Rutland Herald: Casella fighting order to end landfill leakage: December 3, 2000: By JOHN DILLON : Staff Writer : The orange-tinted, foul-smelling water seeps out of: the ground and into : the: Wells River in eastern Vermont. The source of the: pollution is no : secret:: An old landfill nearby has for years fouled the ground: water, and now : the: tainted plume is bubbling up in surface springs. : But state officials and the landfill's owner can't: agree on how to fix : the: problem. The Agency of Natural Resources wants: Vermont's largest trash: company to install a new cap over the dump to prevent: water from : leaching: through and causing more contamination. Casella Waste: Management Inc.,: which bought the Wells River landfill 12 years ago,: says the cap is too: expensive. The company prefers to let the pollution: gradually diminish : over: time. : Casella, which is based in Rutland, recently appealed: a state order: directing the company to cap the landfill to stem the: pollution. : "Our view is we ought to continue to monitor as we: have over the last : 10: years," said John Ponsetto, the company's lawyer. "The: benefits : associated: with this cap don't warrant the expense." : The delays frustrate Alice Allen, a dairy farmer whose: nearby property : is: contaminated by the old landfill. Allen over a year: ago first noticed : the: orange leachate bubbling up on her land. She said she: wants the state : to: enforce a 1994 court order that requires the company: to stop the : landfill: from polluting the environment. : "This has just been a struggle for us. It's documented: the : contamination is: on our land and is coming out of the ground water. It: was documented in : the: court case. But the case was never resolved. The: contamination is not: resolved. If anything it's gotten worse," Allen said.: "... It's not an: issue of proving it anymore. The state knows it's: happening. Casella : knows: it's happening." : Water leaching through layers of trash over time can: form a toxic brew : that: seeps into groundwater and enters streams. This: widespread pollution is : why: the Legislature over a decade ago decided to close: many old, unlined: landfills. Owners of the old dumps were often required: to test ground : water: for signs of contamination. : Casella bought the Newbury Waste Management landfill: in Wells River in : 1988: and operated it for the next five years. But after the: company failed : to: cap the landfill in 1993 according to the state's: timetable, the Agency : of: Natural Resources took the company to court. A 1994: settlement required : the: company to pay a $68,500 fine and "to take all actions: necessary" to : stem: the pollution if tests showed the landfill continued: to contaminate the: water. : Monitoring wells indicate that the old dump is still: leaking chemicals : into: the environment. Manganese and iron levels in three: wells exceeded : state: limits, while water samples also showed elevated: levels of volatile : organic: compounds, including trichloroethene, benzene and: methyl tert-butyl : ether,: according to 1999 state records. Earlier this year,: the state also: determined that the groundwater "seeps" - areas where: water flows to : the: surface downhill from the landfill - violate water: quality standards. : Casella has offered to buy Allen's property and: adjacent land that is : also: affected by the closed dump. The landowners refused to: sell. Casella : then: proposed developing a new landfill on the site and: transferring the : waste: from the old dump into the new lined landfill cell.: The Agency of : Natural: Resources did not support that idea because of the: time and expense: involved. And Allen and her neighbor remain adamantly: opposed to a new: landfill. : "Over my dead body will there be another landfill: there," she said. : While the landfill has not contaminated her drinking: water, Allen said : the: pollution has complicated plans to conserve her dairy: farm through a : land: trust. The Upper Valley Land Trust is reluctant to: secure a : conservation: easement on the land because of potential liability: issues, she said. : "This has taken its toll on me, personally as well as: on my business," : she: said. "I live here. I can't go away ... I just foresee: that Casella : would: drag this on forever and forever." : Ponsetto, Casella's lawyer, said the pollution will: eventually diminish : as: the landfill ages. He noted that the state has changed: its mind from a : year: ago, when officials did not support a synthetic cap or: other remedial: action. Instead, Environmental Conservation: Commissioner Canute : Dalmasse: agreed with Casella that the contamination will ease: over time. : Dalmasse told Allen in an October 1999 letter that the: state would not: force Casella to take further action to halt the: pollution. "Overall, : we: are seeing contaminant levels lessening, and this is a: direction that: should continue as the closed landfill ages," Dalmasse: wrote. "Given : the: modest numbers and types of contaminants, and the: relatively low and: generally decreasing concentrations of those: contaminants, I do not : believe: that remedial action to the landfill is warranted at: this time." : But in October, Andrea Cohen, the head of the state's: solid waste : division,: told the landfill owner that it had to submit a plan: to stop the : chemicals: from leaking from the landfill. Cohen noted in her: letter that Dalmasse: agreed with her decision. : Ponsetto now wants the state to return to its first: ruling, rather than: force the company to install a $1 million synthetic: cap. "We think the: right way (to deal with the issue) is essentially what: the commissioner: said a year ago," Ponsetto said. : But Allen said the state needs to force the company to: clean up its: lingering pollution. : "I'm just a dairy farmer. How much pressure can I put: on Casella?" she: said. "Why should my farm be a receptacle for: leachate? Why should the: Wells River?" : The state ordered the company to submit by Nov. 15 a: plan to cap the: landfill by Oct. 15, 2001. Casella missed the deadline: and instead: challenged that order. State officials are now: deciding how to proceed,: said Andrew Raubvogel, general counsel for the Agency: of Natural : Resources.: : "The solid waste division (of the Agency of Natural: Resources) is : trying to: move forward in a way they think is appropriate," he: said. : "If the data says there's an impact on the ground: water or surface : water we: can require them to do more studies, more monitoring: and more : remediation,": Raubvogel said. "We've done that, and that's what they: (Casella) have : asked: for reconsideration on." These guys are bad news dump there stock!!!!
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