On Monday, July 15, Moretown Landfill stopped accepting waste at its Route 2 location. From here on out, the facility will begin a roughly 30-year-long closing procedure for two of its trash cells, installing permanent caps and monitoring gas wells and groundwater. In the meantime, however, Moretown Landfill will seek the necessary permits to construct a fourth trash cell on site.

The closing of Cells 2 and 3 comes as the result of a settlement between Moretown Landfill's owners, Advanced Disposal Services, and the state after the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) denied recertification of Cells 2 and 3 and Advanced Disposal appealed that decision.

The settlement was first announced in a July 9 letter signed by attorneys for Moretown Landfill and the Vermont attorney general's office, who worked out further details via teleconference on July 11. While it has not yet been finalized, the parties have filed a joint consent order to be approved by Vermont Environmental Court by the end of this week.

Looking forward, Advanced Disposal plans to submit Cell 4 permit applications to the ANR, the Act 250 Commission and the Moretown Development Review Board (DRB) by December of 2013. Interstate Waste Services, the company that owned Moretown Landfill before Advanced Disposal took over ownership in September of 2012, had previously submitted permit applications for Cell 4 and the DRB had held seven hearings considering a conditional use permit for the expansion last year. Those hearings were put on hold last December and Advanced Disposal withdrew the permit application so that it could focus on recertifying its existing cells.

According to the plans presented at those hearings, the 40-acre Cell 4 would be roughly the size of Moretown Landfill's three existing cells combined and would extend the facility's life by 15 to 18 years. Neighbors who attended those hearings formed a coalition called Citizens for Landfill Environmental Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR) opposing construction of Cell 4, citing the facility's record of failing to control off-site odors. Advanced Disposal says it has since invested over $1 million in on-site improvements to control odors, although the effectiveness of those improvements has not yet been quantified.

Whether it can re-open with the construction of Cell 4 or not, Moretown Landfill's closure has already begun to affect the town. Historically, Moretown has received over $500,000 in tipping fees and property taxes from the landfill, which it has used primarily to lower its municipal taxes, and the Moretown Select Board is still waiting for the landfill's contribution before it sets this year's tax rate.