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Casella Waste’s Record In Maine Towns

07 Jan

 Casella has a history of bad faith negotiations with multiple Maine towns.

“I certainly wouldn’t consider Casella a good corporate citizen,” said James Grattelo, a Portland business owner and former mayor and city councilor in Biddeford. “They wait to get caught, then they argue that it’s not a problem. Only as a last resort and after constant, constant fighting will they even attempt to correct the problem.”

…In Hampden, Town Manager Susan Lessard says the town largely has recovered from the failed two-year legal battle to prevent Casella from expanding that landfill. In 2000, the court approved the expansion, declaring the landfill critical to the state’s solid waste disposal infrastructure. “The trust factor between the two entities at that point was pretty close to nonexistent,” she said. …Today, Lessard talks about Casella as a trainer would an 800- pound gorilla: something requiring relentless attention.

Source: “Casella Waste Systems Inc. from bags to riches,” Bangor Daily News, Feb 7, 2004

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Hermon and Casella

The Town of Hermon issued orders in 2009 and again in 2012 that Casella violated its Wastewater Discharge Permit and the town’s Sewer Use ordinance when dumping leachate and sludge from its Pine Tree Dump in Hampden into the town’s sewers.

Source: “Application for a Solid Waste Project Amendment,” from Casella (as NEWSME) to MDEP, requesting permision to send Municipal Solid Waste from MERC to JRL, Sept 2012

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FACT: Casella has sued over a dozen communites where it has owned or leased land.  

Casella sued Biddeford over local zoning changes in 2010.

Source: “Casella sues city over zoning change,” Courier Gazette, September 20, 2010.

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FACT: Casella was sued by Maine towns contracted with the PERC incinerator.

The Municipal Review Committee, representing the 116 communities that use the PERC incinerator that was then partially owned by Casella, sued Casella in 2000. The MRC claimed that Casella didn’t seek lower prices for disposal of incinerator residue because it also owns the Sawyer Environmental Recovery Facility in Hampden.”

“Our communities will not be economically compromised to accommodate larger corporate interests,” said Greg Lounder, executive director of the Municipal Review Committee.

Source: Portland Press Herald, Towns sue owners of waste incinerator. January 8, 2000

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Biddeford and Saco’s Experience

Casella’s MERC incinerator generated lawsuits and contested contracts for decades, with host communities Biddeford and Saco charging the company engaged in bad faith negotiations and poor business practices.

Biddeford first sued MERC in 1989 for damages relating to MERC’s operation and location.

Part of the settlement required the city to pay more to leave its trash at MERC, thereby allowing then-owner KTI to avoid bankruptcy. The settlement also stipulated that the city would be paid 20% company’s value if MERC was lost through bankruptcy or sold.

When Casella paid $500 million to take over operations of MERC by merging with KTI in December 1999, the company claimed that the merger was a “stock swap” where the cities “will get nothing from the deal”. Biddeford and Saco called the takeover a sale and said they were entitled by contract to a share of profits from the Casella takeover.

Saco later filed suit after Casella increased the amount of trash it processed annually from the 212,000 tons listed in the contract up to 274,000 tons. The cities also charged that Casella was using MERC as a transfer station, which was prohibited by the 1991 contract.

Saco City Councilor Leslie Smith Jr. said he doesn’t trust the company to abide by its word.

“Right now I would rather shake hands with a rattlesnake than reach across the table and shake hands with someone from MERC” on an agreement, he said.

Sources: “Biddeford files lawsuit against MERC,” Portland Press Herald, Jan 10, 2002

“Saco panel opts to sue MERC trash plant,” Portland Press Herald, Nov 6, 2001.

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[Biddeford City Councilor Matthew] Hight said he could not support a plan that encouraged Lewiston to partner with the company.

“I don’t see how, in good conscience, I could advocate that given our experiences with Casella here in Biddeford,” he said.

……Kyle Noble, a member of a citizens’ group that opposed the MERC contract, the Working Alliance for Biddeford’s Future …said the plan may be well-timed.

He said the federal government is offering incentives for waste-disposal companies to harvest methane gas from landfills, which could make it more financially attractive for Casella to abandon the Biddeford incinerator in favor of taking garbage to the two landfills to the north.

Source: “Skepticism greets plan to close trash incinerator,” Portland Press Herald, Sept 3, 2007

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FACT: Casella was sued by its partner corporation in 2000 over poor business practices.

Energy National Inc., co-owner of the PERC incinerator in Orrington, sued its partner Casella over refusal to allow the partnership to pursue more affordable residue disposal prices. Under the partnership agreement, both companies must consent before PERC can enter into any disposal contract. The Municipal Review Committee, representing member towns, alleged that Casella balked at negotiating better disposal prices because it also owned the Sawyer Dump in Hampden.

Source: Bangor Daily News, PERC co-owner’s suit echoes complaints in towns’ claim. Jan 29, 2000

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Over 90% of waste sent to Casella’s KTI Bio Fuels processing center comes from out of state.

In 2010 the majority of those 200,000 tons of construction and demolition debris was dumped in the State-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill (JRL) in Old Town operated by Casella.

JRL is only allowed to accept Maine waste, but thanks to a loophole created by Casella lobbyists, out-of-state waste processed at KTI becomes eligible Maine waste.

Former State Representative Bob Duschesne wrote to DEP Commissioner (and former Casella lobbyist) Pat Aho:

“Figures show that the apparent role of KTI Bio Fuels is not to produce biofuels.

…It is to convert out-of-state waste to in-state waste for purposes of disposal at Juniper Ridge.”

Source: “The KTI Example,” Bangor Daily News, Jan 13, 2012 

 

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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Current Events

 

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