- Local residents have accused Casella Waste Systems of not taking necessary precautions to prevent water contamination near its Southbridge, MA landfill. On Friday, they joined the health boards of Charlton and Sturbridge in submitting written comments about a proposed landfill expansion to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
- Casella is seeking a potential 20-acre expansion of its landfill area and creation of a new 14-acre disposal area. The company plans to build 60-foot-high berms around the existing landfill.
- The state DEP has identified Casella as potentially responsible for contaminating residential wells with 1,4-dioxane, a solvent used in some household products that has been classified as a probable human carcinogen. Residents said the company hasn't properly tested for this substance in the past and that a planned hydrological study in 2018 is too late. Casella is currently providing bottled water to 29 homes in Charlton.
Landfill expansions are often contentious, but concerns over contaminated drinking water have escalated the situation. With the issue currently receiving major media attention across the country, residents are on edge.
"We're going to be in a Flint, MI, type of situation, and our aquifer is also going to become contaminated," Linda Cocalis, chairwoman of the Sturbridge Board of Health, told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Massachusetts is expected to lose 1.5 million tons of landfill capacity by 2020 and also has a moratorium on the construction of any new incineration facilities. Exporting waste to other states is becoming increasingly expensive and is not a good long-term solution. New solutions for landfill diversion may be needed as the expansion of existing sites becomes increasingly difficult.