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Monthly Archives: March 2012

News Articles from the 1989 Norridgewock Dump Slide

“A massive landslide at  Consolidated Waste Services’ municipal landfill early Monday morning created five large crevices in the landfill that exposed all sorts of once buried  household trash and filled the air with the stench of rotting garbage.”

“Alan Jones, vice-president in charge of engineering for CWS (the previous operator of the Norridgewock dump) estimated that about 900,000 cubic yards of soil and garbage were in the mound that made up the municipal landfill and about two thirds of it slid away” both from The 1989 News Article from the Waterville Morning Sentinel  about the Norridgewock dump slide.

Morning Sentinel Article days after the dump collapse

 

“[Dr. George Sanford of the University of Maine] said the bottom of the landfill went first, followed by the rest of the mound, which broke into six crevices, most 1,000 feet long and some 50-60 feet wide.From testimony on what happened in Norridgewock

Days after the 1989 Dump collapse that lead to Maine’s Solid Waste laws

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Current Events

 

Public Testimony Concerning LD 879

Testimony submitted by a member of the Public on LD879 at last year’s Public Hearing on the Bill.

A Background on LD879 and It’s Relation to the State-owned, Casella-operated dump in Old Town

Joint Standing Committee of Natural Resources April 13, 2011

Back in 1989 a ban was passed by the Maine legislature to prohibit any further development of new commercial landfills in the state. All future dumps would be owned by the state. The ban ultimately would stop the flow of out-of-state waste from being dumped in Maine and secure the long term waste capacity needs of the state for a very, very long time.

During the 1989 legislative session which brought this ban along with the bottle bill, the then Senator John Elias Baldacci who was opposed to this legislation, stated on the senate floor here in Augusta that “Maine needs more landfills”. Within days of his inauguration of becoming Governor in 2004 (and in reality within days of him being elected) the same John Elias Baldacci conducted back room meetings with Georgia Pacific’s top dogs and Casella Waste Systems’ lead people to develop a plan for GP to dump their dump, a huge liability to be rid of when they left town, and a plan that would also allow Casella to move in and take over operations as a commercial operator of, a soon to be, state-owned dump with unlimited capacity for a long time.

An elaborate scheme was devised, Baldacci put in place a number of old cronies from those 1989 days of legislative session to include Jack Cashman, his right hand man and Matt Dunlap who would help secure the votes in the house for the emergency resolve that they would craft and pass out of this committee. The Senate chair of this committee was given to John Martin, who benefitted a significant bonus in his campaign for senate through the Aroostook PAC that was supporting his candidacy with thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Casella Waste Systems and John Martin was supposedly a Maine Clean Election Candidate. He would make sure the emergency resolve would pass this committee without a hitch and help secure votes on the senate floor to put it into law. Dawn Gallagher was put in place as Commissioner of MDEP and she would expedite a 4-6 year process, condensing and bypassing mandated protocol, turning the lengthily DEP process into mere months, less than a year. Assistant attorney general, William Lubenstein, would play an instrumental role in the legal department.

The state would buy the landfill from GP with money they would receive from Casella. Casella willingly offered the 26M to the state, in essence, to buy the operating rights of the GP sludge dump located in Old Town. Casella would receive the authority to change the GP sludge dump into a new and greatly expanded “special waste” mega dump with capacity that could serve the state for 60-80 years, for all Maine only waste. The new dump capacity, however, is proposed to be filled by Casella in 20-30 years with waste from many states labeled as Maine waste, through a “definition of in-state waste” currently defined in Maine Law. The dump deal would be coupled with a GP biomass scheme which would import the waste, needed by Casella to profitably operate, in all commercial respects, their new dump and meet this definition to allow the dumping of out-of-state waste at a supposedly state owned facility that could not accept out-of-state waste. The pubic would be told that the state needed the waste capacity available at the GP dump for our long term waste capacity needs and the GP biomass deal was essential to save the good paying jobs at the GP mill, which GP never planned on saving in the first place.

Casella and their attorneys got together with the Governor’s office and his attorneys, along with other state heads and crafted the Legislative Ressolve to authorize the state to buy the dump and procure an operator to run it. There was a slight glitch in the plan; the state would have to put out an RFP to procure an operator for the new state-owned dump for it to be legal. All of the lawyers from all sides got together and crafted an RFP that was so biased in Casella’s favor, it was virtually impossible for any other waste company to competitively bid for the operating rights of the new state-owned dump.

Terms of the RFP, namely a 50M performance bond and a cheap below market price CDD fuel supply for the GP biomass were two huge stumbling blocks. These two terms alone made it virtually impossible to be fulfilled by any other waste companies that might have been interested in bidding. Those two terms would change drastically and be renegotiated after the award of operating rights was given to Casella.

The willful acts of elected officials at the highest levels and moneyed special interests of GP and Casella that participated, under any other circumstance for any state agency or municipality in the country in carrying out this RFP process, would have been considered criminally illegal acts and would have been legally prosecuted to the full extent of the law. No such legal action has taken place in this circumstance.

The RFP should have gone back out to bid when Casella refused to provide the 50M performance bond and in any other competitive bid process it would have. Instead the parties involved renegotiated it down to a 4M performance bond and were successful in carrying out this illegal RFP process, giving Casella Waste Systems a virtual monopoly on all future waste to be dumped in the state of Maine. As soon as Waste Management ran out of capacity at their Norridgewock facility and had to close, Casella would be the sole handler of all future waste being dumped in the entire state of Maine, which is at the heart of why we are here today to discuss L.D. 879.

Waste Management is lobbying the legislature to amend the 1989 ban on new commercial landfills so that Waste Management can greatly expand its’ facility in Norridgewock. Waste Management wants a similar lucrative and profitable deal as was given to Casella. Waste Management’s reasoning; that the state needs to create fair competition over the waste streams being dumped in Maine, taking away the monopoly handed to Casella on a silver platter. What is fair for one should be fair for all. The Maine legislature, if it passes L.D. 879, ultimately opens the state completely to a train of out-of-state waste. In very short order other waste companies will also seek similar exceptions to allow even more development of new commercially operated dumps throughout the state. It would only be a matter of time before new commercial dumps started piling up mountains of out-of-state waste all over the state of Maine, with no end in sight.

This committee, a few years back, announced that the state had made a “mistake” when it made this deal with GP and Casella, giving a monopoly of the entire waste stream in the state to Casella. There was no “mistake” by any of the parties involved, which willfully and intentionally carried out their goals as planned from the beginning. When multiple parties get together to conspire to develop a scheme to intentionally push through personal agendas of moneyed special interests for financial gain with total disregard for Maine and Federal law to achieve their objectives and greed is the engine driving the process, it is not called a “mistake”. It is defined as “organized criminal activity” in all courts of law in this country. It is also defined as “organized crime”, with the participation of people at the highest levels of our state government and not one “mistake” was made in the carrying out of the plan that met every objective for all the parties involved and was successfully carried out. There was no public scrutiny to shine a light on this deal and the public was purposely kept in the dark, all aspects of this deal transpiring and accomplished behind the scenes. It was only after the fact, that the public became involved.

I recommend that this committee not table L.D. 879, and have an expectation to sneak this through in a future legislative session, when conditions might be more favorable.

I recommend that this committee vote unanimously “Ought Not To Pass” on L.D. 879.

The original deal that brought L.D. 879 in front of you today was wrong. L.D. 879 is wrong. No matter how you slice it, no matter what you say in defense of L.D. 879, two wrongs will never make it right.

I know there are huge legal ramifications that have been presented here with my testimony today. I have prepared and am submitting a copy to all members of this committee, an electronic file. It contains a chronology through e-mails, written correspondence (obtained through FOAA) and public documents, between all the parties that were involved with the original deal, at the time everything was going down. This electronic file supports and gives credence to all statements and implications of “organized criminal activity” I have made here today. It took almost a year to prepare and was submitted to the AG’s office over three years ago, with a promise that it would be investigated because of the validity of it, but never was. I have committed countless hours of my own personal time over the last seven years, with many sleepless nights while living eating and breathing waste management policy in the state of Maine.

So compelled to try to shine a light on this information, I ran for State Senate in 2006, thinking I could make a difference here in Augusta. My husband and I came to Augusta on numerous occasions to speak out on this topic, always leaving here feeling as if we were just beating our heads against the wall, that nothing was ever going to change. I became a select person in my town serving a three year term, my husband was appointed to our town planning board and is still currently serving as chair. We were and are determined to protect our town from further impact of the state owned dump, accessed through our town and sitting on our borders.

My husband and I can ill afford the financial expense in attempting to try, what we know is the right thing to do, in shining a light on this information. I don’t know how much longer we can afford the expenditure of our time and energy to repeatedly travel to Augusta in hopes that this wrong will be finally righted and we can go back to our normal everyday life.

We shouldn’t have to bear the weight of the responsibility to try and fix a situation that started here in Augusta, yet we feel that weight heavy upon our shoulders, because of the knowledge we have. The fix we are in started here in Augusta and must be fixed here, starting in this committee. Part of the solution to this problem; take away the monopoly from Casella, take Casella out of the operations of our state-owned dump.

We are just lay people and the responsibility for such a weight needs to be placed squarely on your shoulders. You, all, are our elected officials serving to protect all the citizens of Maine, not just the moneyed few who have a special interest with their own agendas.

I therefore am also recommending that this committee, coupled with the Ethics Commission and the Attorney General’s office, order a full investigation of the original deal made by the Baldacci administration with Georgia Pacific, Casella Waste Systems and all the individuals involved.

A full investigation may result in a substantial expense on the state’s behalf to fix this situation with the deal that was carried out by a handful of corrupt elected officials and the moneyed special interests of GP and Casella. It is my belief and I speak solely for myself here today, that there is some justice that could be afforded us through our court system and most of us believe that justice will prevail, in the end. It is also my belief that organized criminal activity did take place between the Governor and members of his office, members of the State Planning Office, members of MDEP, members of the AG’s Office, Georgia Pacific and Casella high-ups and all the respective attorneys representing all of the parties involved. Maine might be able to recoup some of the substantial expense that would have to be utilized to fix this problem, by prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law (criminally and civilly), all parties that were involved in any crimes that were committed and discovered through a full investigation into this serious matter.

If no expense is ever recouped for the duplicity and actions of the parties involved, it will still be a smaller price to pay now, with the removal of the commercial operator currently running our state-owned dump, than the expense we could never hope to pay in the future if nothing changes, we condone the actions of the parties involved and L.D. 879 passes and we continue on our current path.

It was never the intent, nor was it ever envisioned that the 1989 ban, when Maine became owner to all future dumps, the state would allow a state-owned dump to be run commercially by a private company from out-of-state and be allowed to fill it with out-of-state waste.

I am asking you all to take this testimony seriously with deep consideration of the facts, take a stand and do what is right for the whole state. Don’t check your conscience at the door, under the pressure of the paid lobbyists and moneyed special interest trying to push their agenda here today in support of L.D. 879.

Do not let John Elias Baldacci, (J.E.B. to all of his closest allies), get away with using his position of our highest state office, the Governor’s office and bring to Maine, his self fulfilling prophecy of 1989 that “Maine needs more landfills”.

Respectfully Submitted,

Deborah Gibbs/P.O. Box 221/Milford, Maine 04461/Telephone: (207)827-5358/E-Mail: gibbsmilford@aol.com

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Current Events