Breaking news: Moretown Landfill will not be recertified

On Thursday, March 14, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) announced its decision to deny Moretown Landfill’s recertification application. The Route 2 facility can continue to operate under its existing certification until April 15, 2013. After that, it will close.

The ANR denied Moretown Landfills recertification on two grounds: “the operator’s failure to control odor and landfill gas emissions at the facility” and “the facility’s contribution to violations of groundwater quality standards,” the Agency explained in its decision announcement.

When the facility switched ownership from Interstate Waste Services to Advanced Disposal Services this past September, it invested over $450,000 in attempting to correct these problems, but ultimately the improvements were not enough. “The application provided by Moretown Landfill fails to demonstrate that proposed operational changes would result in the facility attaining compliance with the standards of the Solid Waste Management Rule,” the ANR said.

This past December the ANR announced its “intent to deny” Moretown Landfill’s recertification after the facility was cited for several environmental violations, but during a public comment period that followed, the ANR considered over 200 comments from Vermonters explaining how the landfill affects their livelihood.

While many of those comments came from Moretown residents, who either depend on the landfill as a source of revenue or suffer from its strong off-site odors, others came from out-of-towners, such as small business owners who worry how closing one of the state’s two landfills will increase their already high overhead costs for trash removal and environmentalists urging the ANR to take a stance against negligent business practices.

The ANR addressed residents’ concern about increased trash removal costs in its decision announcement: “Although there will only be one lined landfill in Vermont, it is important to note that the trash collection and disposal system in New England is regional, and includes other landfills in New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts,” the ANR said. 

And the state has already begun investigating new landfill sites. “While there is significant capacity in the existing Vermont landfill, three other sites have also been through local and state permitting,” the ANR said. “For a range of reasons the owners of those sites have not felt that it was worthwhile developing these permitted locations. The closure of Moretown may well make one of these other sites more viable.”

The owners of Moretown Landfill have yet to respond to the ANR’s decision, but the Moretown Select Board will discuss how the decision will affect the town at their next meeting on Monday, March 18.