The DEP has NOT issued the permit to Casella! See below message & attachments.
They have required more information from Casella and proof of approval from the FAA. They responded directly to some of the thoughtful and justified concerns posed by the approximately 150 comments submitted to them.
Enjoy your weekend, knowing that you have had a part in protecting our community and working towards zero waste!
Residents for Alternative Trash Solutions
Thank you for your recent comments on the Southbridge Landfill Facility permit modification.
Knowing of your interest, we wanted to advise you of the final permit, as modified and effective June 1, 2010. Attached is the permit and related documents. The permit also contains language governing appeal rights.
Solid Waste Program
For some background -- RATS:
This website is presented to share information amongst a citizens group of over 300 Southbridge, Sturbridge, and Charlton residents formed to prevent Casella Waste Systems’ proposed extension of the Southbridge Landfill to allow 400,000+ tons of municipal solid waste.
We oppose Casella's plan to make Southbridge a raw garbage dump for the state.
We call on the Southbridge Board of Health to protect the public health from the dangers of contaminated air and water, toxic gases, and overall environmental degradation by denying Casella's application.
Furthermore we call on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the town governments of Southbridge, Sturbridge, and Charlton to further safeguard our region by making Zero Waste plans for waste reduction and safe management of discards.
The Southbridge Landfill is about to become the largest raw garbage landfill in Massachusetts! Casella Waste Systems plans to increase the permitted raw garbage to over 400,000 tons of municipal solid waste - raw garbage - there each year, including Boston's and Springfield’s trash. The trash thrown in Boston's garbage cans will travel over an hour west to be piled onto an already 800-foot high mountain of trash located in the center of three western Massachusetts communities - Southbridge, Sturbridge, and Charlton.
The problem in Southbridge is evident of a more profound statewide crisis when it comes to dealing with waste. Massachusetts residents produce almost 2 tons of trash per person each year, and recycling rates have actually fallen in recent years to 33%. Right now the state Department of Environmental Protection is drafting the next Solid Waste Master Plan, its blueprint for managing the Commonwealth’s garbage from 2010-2020. They are considering lifting a 19-year moratorium on building new incinerators, and allowing new trash-burners to be built in the state.
RATS! Residents for Alternative Trash Solutions, is committed to changing the way we deal with waste - on a local and state-wide level. We have grown our organization to include over a thousand people all not only opposed to this regional landfill and the numerous health and environmental problems it brings to our community, but also committed to moving our state forward towards zero waste. RATS has been working with other major environmental groups across the state in a coalition called Don’t Waste Massachusetts to urge the state to stop going down this burn and bury path and instead reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost to get to zero waste.
Our group's volunteers have accomplished so much in the past year. Our pro bono attorney represented us valiantly in the Board of Health site assignment hearings and the appeal to the Superior court following that decision. She is a Harvard grad, now stay at home mom, who works fearlessly against the waste company's slew of highly paid attorneys. We've founded this in-depth informational website that serves as a resource for other groups fighting landfills and moving towards zero waste all over the country. We've made a short film, with the help of a Washington DC-based film maker to show how decisions like this affect small communities and the importance of adopting zero waste solutions. We also created a short professionally-narrated animated segment to explain how a modern landfill works. Our volunteers have met with numerous state officials to educate them on landfilling and zero waste. We've focused on growing our contact list and educating the community about landfills, incineration, and their alternatives - since many resources available are funded or heavily influenced by the waste industry. We've done this at numerous conferences, gave lectures at colleges, and submitted articles to publications.
Our group has grown enormously since it was formed over a year ago and new opportunities are coming before us all the time. We have the opportunity to move forward with many new projects in this coming year. We plan on approaching the target of Zero Waste in our state with expanded legal efforts. We plan on improving and publicizing our short film and on increasing our communications by implementing new methods of public relations. We'd like to improve our community outreach by implementing a new phone call system to contact those who do not have access to email. We are also working on forming a web-based system to collect complaints and observations (odor, traffic, etc.) from households surrounding the landfill. Once perfected in our community, this same system could be used by any other town looking to gather information about any kind of environmental nuisance.
RATS! is unique in that we are using a grassroots approach to addressing a widespread problem that is severely under-represented in our culture. Our group can serve as a template for many other small groups. Already, we have been contacted from other groups as far as Nevada and Florida for resources and information. When groups like ours become interconnected, share information, and resources, the power of the environmental movement can grow exponentially.