- A report from Tighe & Bond — a consultant for the town of Southbridge, MA — has said that Casella's Southbridge landfill is not responsible for water contamination in the neighboring town of Charlton, as reported by Telegram.com.
- The report said that it's not physically possible for groundwater to travel uphill from the landfill to the contaminated wells in question. The specific compounds could also not be found together at any point in the landfill based on available data.
- As a result, Casella and Southbridge have indicated that they will not be installing municipal water lines in the affected Charlton neighborhood. Casella will also stop supplying bottled water to some homes next month.
Since traces of 1,4 dioxane were found in 21 Charlton wells last fall, the company has faced significant local pressure. The DEP identified Casella as the potential responsible party and required it to provide bottled water or filtration systems to a select group of homes. The agency has also begun requiring action plans on specific timetables this summer.
The Southbridge landfill is projected to reach capacity as soon as next year and this all comes as Casella is seeking approval to expand it. Though the idea is unpopular among residents, Southbridge reportedly received more than $4 million last year through royalties, curbside collection and other benefits from the company.
Next steps from local advocates or state officials are not immediately clear following these new developments. More than 60 residents recently filed a zoning complaint alleging that the landfill is operating illegally in Charlton and public opposition is unlikely to subside until a source of the water contamination can be identified. According to an employee of the consulting firm, DEP officials have previously said that it's unlikely any site investigation could ever fully prove that the Southbridge landfill isn't the source of the contamination.