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Op-Ed in BDN: It’s time to close out of state waste loophole.

 

Juniper Ridge Landfill. BDN photo

OLD TOWN, MAINE — 1/23/ 13 — A worker flattens trash at the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town on Wednesday, January 23, 2013. Carter F. McCall | BDN

 

 

 
 

Reasons to Support LD 401, An Act To Preserve State Landfill Capacity and Promote Recycling

ABOUT LD 401

1. A loophole in Maine’s waste regulations allows out-of-state waste to be funneled through processing
facilities and become classified as Maine-generated waste. This reclassification makes the waste
eligible for disposal in the State-owned landfill, resulting in Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town being
rapidly filled with imported waste, turning Maine into the low-cost dumping ground for surrounding
states with stricter waste policies.    About Massachusetts waste exports

2. As surrounding states and provinces enact strong recycling mandates and bans on landfilling many
types of materials, Maine has failed to enact equivalent recycling requirements or restrictions on
wastes allowed to be dumped in landfills. See state landfills bans2019 State report: increasing disposal at Juniper Ridge landfills

3. Monitoring and testing requirements for toxins in landfill leachate are inadequate for protection of
public health of communities downstream.  See Arsenic

4. Maine regulatory agencies have started restricting the landspreading of biosolids contaminated with
PFAS/PFOS on farmland, resulting in disposal of more contaminated sludge in Maine landfills.
Landfill leachate is regularly discharged into the Penobscot, Kennebec, and Sebasticook Rivers with
no requirements that the leachate be tested or treated for PFAS. SEE:  PFAS Landfill details
and PFAS in the Kennebec and Merrimack Rivers

5. People most impacted by landfill operations lack adequate opportunities for meaningful participation
in decision-making processes relating to licensing waste facilities. Environmental Justice  
and Government Oversight Committee findings     Local control over landfills 

 
 

Energy & Natural Resources Committee Contacts

ENR Committee Key Member Contacts:

Representative Ralph Tucker (D)
Phone: (207) 725-7639 e-mail: Ralph.Tucker@legislature.maine.gov
Represents: Brunswick

Senator Brownie Carson (D)
Phone: (207) 751-9076 e-mail: Brownie.Carson@Legislature.Maine.gov
Represents: Bailey Island, Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell, North Yarmouth, Orr’s Island, Pownal, South Freeport, South Harpswell

Senator Robert Foley (R)
Phone: (207) 590-2144 e-mail: Robert.Foley@legislature.maine.gov
Represents: Acton, Kennebunk, Lebanon, North Berwick, Wells, Berwick

Senator Justin Chenette (D)
Phone: (207) 590-3266 e-mail: Justin.Chenette@legislature.maine.gov
Represents: Buxton, Camp Ellis, Hollis, Limington, Ocean Park, Old Orchard Beach, Saco

 
 

Petitions To Correct Injustice in State Waste Policy Accepted by DEP

On January 13th, a group of people from communities impacted by waste operations delivered petitions with over 250 signatures to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Don’t Waste ME group members Ed Spencer, Bill Lippincott, and Hillary Lister, and Penobscot Nation
Tribal Ambassador Maulian Dana gathered at the DEP office. [Video of event  Part 1   (5min)

The group called on the State to close loopholes in the definition of Maine-generated waste, and require
the consideration of environmental justice when determining the benefit of licensing landfills.

Maulian Dana spoke on the need for the law and rule changes, [Video part 2. (5 min) explaining:
“The Penobscot Nation is happy to support this effort. Our Director of Natural Resources, John Banks,
provided testimony and we supported him on that on LD 401 in the last session, and we really see this
as a natural fit for us to support.

Maine is our sacred homeland and has been before statehood even, so it make sense to keep it clean and
pristine, and certainly not accepting waste from other places.

And I think this goes hand in hand with bills from last session having to do with water quality and
sustenance fishing. Obviously we’re dealing with Juniper Ridge Landfill and the ramifications on the
health of the Penobscot River where we live.”

Hundreds of thousands of tons of waste from out-of-state are being dumped at the State-owned Juniper
Ridge Landfill in Old Town, with the types and amounts of waste increasing each year. Leachate from
the landfill is discharged into the Penobscot River with inadequate treatment and extremely limited
testing.

A loophole in Maine’s waste regulations allows out-of-state waste to be funneled through processing
facilities in Maine and become classified as Maine-generated waste. This classification makes the
waste eligible for disposal in the State-owned landfill with minimal public input. The proposed rule change, and legislative changes proposed in LD 401 [Link to About LD 401 page],
would be a critical step toward closing the loophole.

Most of the imported waste is classified as Construction and Demolition Debris, which has been
banned from disposal in Massachusetts landfills. [Link to Dumping Ground article.]

Other materials being imported to Maine for disposal include wastes and leachate containing PFAS,
known as “forever chemicals.” Maine currently has no testing of landfill leachate for PFAS levels, and
limited protections for communities downstream of wastewater treatment plants where the leachate is
discharged into the river.

Throughout the waste facility licensing process, the disproportionate impact of toxins on the health and
well-being of local communities where operations are located has often been ignored.

The petition calls for the DEP, when making a determination of public benefit required for landfill
licensing and expansion, to consider the effects of landfill operations on equal protections and
environmental justice for communities at risk of being disproportionately impacted by the waste
facility.

The DEP accepted the petitions and is expected to review the petitions for completeness in the next
month. Within 60 days of accepting the petitions as complete, the Department is expected initiate a
Public Hearing process to consider the proposed rule updates.

 
 

Citizens Petition DEP to Close Gigantic Waste Loophole

Rule change would impact trash coming to Maine from surrounding states and provinces.

For Immediate Release (January 12th, 2020)

Contacts                                                                                                                                              Dana Colihan, Toxics Action Center     dana@toxicsaction.org   207-871-1810 (office)

Hillary Lister, Don’t Waste ME  hillarylister@mainematters.net   207-314-4692 (home)

[AUGUSTA, ME] — Today, waste reformers from across the state will deliver petitions with over 250 signatures to the Department of Environmental Protection. The petitions call on the Department to update its waste management rules to close a loophole in the definition of Maine-generated waste and to require the consideration of environmental justice when determining the benefit of licensing landfills.

Currently a loophole in the State’s waste regulations allows out-of-state waste to be funneled through processing facilities in Maine and become classified as Maine-generated waste. This classification makes the waste eligible for disposal in State-owned landfills. The proposed rule change would be a critical step toward closing the loophole.

“Unfortunately, Maine has allowed hundreds of thousands of tons of out-of-state wastes to be landfilled in our state simply by changing the legal definition,” said John Banks, Natural Resources Director for the Penobscot Nation. “The result is that we’ve become the dumping ground for states to our south. It is time to correct this massive injustice.”

It is estimated that 40% of waste disposed at the State-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill (JRL) on the Old Town/Alton border originated from outside Maine. Most of the imported waste is classified as Construction and Demolition Debris (CDD), which has been banned from disposal in Massachusetts landfills. The largest CDD waste stream flows through the ReEnergy processing facility in Lewiston, where more than 90% of the inputs originated out-of-state and more than 90% of the outputs ended up in Maine’s State-owned landfill. In 2017, approximately 136,000 tons of wastes—more than 4,000 tractor-trailers per year—were sent from ReEnergy to the State-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill.

Ed Spencer, a neighbor to JRL explains, “Our neighbors in Massachusetts continue to tighten their rules on waste disposal and we need to do the same.”

Dana Colihan, Maine Community Organizer at Toxics Action Center agrees, “We need to manage our waste better, but more importantly we need to protect our communities better. Mainers who live next to landfills are speaking out and the state must listen.”

Other non-Maine materials coming to Maine landfills include sludges containing PFAS, known as “forever chemicals.” Maine currently has no testing of landfill leachate for PFAS levels, and limited protections for communities downstream of where the leachate is discharged.

Throughout the licensing process, the disproportionate impact of toxins on the health and well-being of local communities where landfills are located has often been ignored. The petition calls for the DEP, when making a determination of public benefit required for landfill licensing and expansion, to consider the effects of landfill operations on equal protections and environmental justice for communities at risk of being disproportionately impacted by the waste facility.

According to the State rules, the DEP will initiate a Public Hearing process to consider the proposed change within 60 days. Petitioners plan to engage with the DEP to achieve shared goals ensuring there is accurate information on how much waste is being disposed in Maine landfills and where it is coming from, and to provide meaningful protections for local communities where landfills are operating.

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Don’t Waste ME a coalition of people across Maine advocating for responsible policies that protect the health of communities most at risk from negative impacts of landfill, incinerator, leachate and sludge disposal operations. Learn more at dontwasteme.wordpress.com

Toxics Action Center works side-by-side with communities to prevent or clean up pollution in New England. Learn more at www.toxicsaction.org

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January 17th: Legislature’s ENR committee worksession & vote on LD 401 An Act To Preserve State Landfill Capacity and Promote Recycling.

On Friday, January 17, starting at 10am, the  Environment and Natural Resources Committee of Maine’s legislature will hold work sessions on waste policy bills held over from last session.

LD 401, An Act To Preserve State Landfill Capacity and Promote Recycling, is scheduled to be voted on by the committee at the work session.

LD 401 proposes to:

1. Ensure there is accurate tracking and record keeping identifying the origin, amounts and types of materials disposed in waste facilities in the State;

2. Ensure waste is effectively tracked from generation point through processing to final disposal point,including the following types of facilities and disposal sites where tracking is required: landfills; landfill leachate discharge sites; incinerator ash and slag disposal sites; and biosolids disposal sites;

3. Ensure that waste materials imported from outside the State that are processed at facilities in the tate are not classified as Maine-generated waste;

4. Ensure that waste materials that end up in a landfill, such as construction and demolition debris,which are used for daily cover in a landfill, are not counted toward the State’s recycling goals;

5. Ensure adequate legal standing and strengthen protections for the health and well-being of people living in close proximity to waste disposal facilities;

6. Strengthen conflict-of-interest protections in awarding and management and oversight of state waste contracts to prevent price fixing and market manipulation.
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Read the proposed bill here LD 401 An Act To Preserve State Landfill Capacity and Promote Recycling).

Listen to the Worksession streaming live  Jan 17th 10am     Archived Audio of the LD401 worksession will be available on Friday at: http://legislature.maine.gov/Audio/#216 wastemap_maine_communities

 

MRC Dump Plan Draws Overwhelming Opposition

Should a new waste dump be built by the Penobscot in Argyle and/or Greenbush?
Bangor Daily Poll at: http://bangordailynews.com/2014/07/01/news/bangor/proposed-new-landfill-to-get-public-hearing-as-maine-grapples-with-waste-management/?ref=search

On July 2, the DEP held an informational meeting at the Old Town Elks lodge, to gather Public input in order to make a Determination of Public Benefit for the MRC dump proposal.

A determination of Public Benefit is necessary for the project to go forward for final permitting. The Land Use Planning Commission will also have to rule on the project as it would be located in the Unorganized Territories.

Not one of the members of the Public who spoke at the meeting expressed support for the new dump. Several suggested that siting a waste dump in the heart of traditional Penobscot hunting, fishing, and gathering lands around Birch Stream would be a sort of genocide. Penobscot Nation representatives and the Maine Indian Tribal Commission have so far been excluded from the planning for the dump.

Dozens of Penobscot Nation community members marched from the Island across the River to the afternoon meeting. Over a hundred people from local communities, including Argyle, Greenbush, Alton, the Penobscot Nation, Greenfield, and Old Town filled the hall.

People raised concerns about impact on local water supplies, agriculture, hunting and fishing, why a new dump is needed only miles upstream of the State-owned JRL landfill, and whether the creation of a new dump violates the state waste hierarchy that clearly places landfilling as the least preferable method of dealing with waste. Several people raised concerns that the proposed waste facility location appears to be in-line with a proposed East West Industrial Corridor route.

Argyle and Greenbush sit on top of a major aquifer and well-known floodplains. Both communities are on the banks of the Penobscot River, and Argyle is located on Birch Stream and at the headwaters of Alton Bog. Argyle is adjacent to the Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, which protects the second largest peatland in Maine.

In 2006 a landslide occurred on the banks of the Penobscot in Greenbush. It moved for 3 days, and undercut Route 2, requiring rebuilding of the route. Experts have determined that there is possibility of more landslides in the area.

The specific location(s), owner(s), and operator(s) of the dump are missing from the application. MRC states the dump would not necessarily be owned and operated by MRC, and could be transferred to a “Successor Entity.”
The application does not contain details on who the “Successor Entity” would be. When a local resident at the hearing asked whether it would be Casella, one of the attending Casella representatives dropped his pen and notebook on the floor, looking flustered.

MRC claims that 72 of its 187 member communities have signed a resolution in support of the plan.
Representative Stacey Guerin of Glenburn spoke at the July 2nd meeting, and referred to a letter filed on behalf of area Representative Anita Peavy Haskell to the DEP, stating that representatives of MRC member communities have communicated that they were not aware that that the resolution they signed would authorize MRC to develop a new dump. At no point in the “Resolution To Continue the Advancement of Post 2018 Planning Process,” that member towns signed, is development of a new landfill ever specifically mentioned.

Not one of the hundreds of people who attended the July 2nd meeting spoke in favor of the MRC dump plan.

Video of the meeting will be posted soon.

More information at: http://bangordailynews.com/slideshow/plan-to-build-landfill-in-argyle-or-greenbush-draws-fire-at-maine-dep-public-meeting/?ref=search

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On May 21, 2014 the Municipal Review Committee Inc (http://mrcmaine.org/) met with residents of Argyle, Maine, site of a planned new landfill and other solid waste processing facilities. The meeting was held at Happy Acres Hall in Alton.

Over 100 local residents responded to the MRC dump proposal with a resounding No!

Further details on this proposal, including the over 100 letters that have been filed in opposition are at the Maine DEP’s site for this project, http://www.maine.gov/dep/waste/mrc/.

Video of the Alton meeting filmed by Eric Tuttle is online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wLTIsdGmYs

More information on the proposed MRC dump at: http://noargyledump.com/

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Current Events