February 26, 2024

February 15th, 6pm to 8pm,
Eastern and Veterans room at Jeff’s Catering,
15 Event Center Way, Brewer, Maine 04412

Juniper Ridge Landfill Seeks Expansion of State Contract Despite Track Record of Harm to Local Environment and Communities, including the Penobscot Nation.

Below we share information from local grassroots organization Don’t Waste ME:

This photo was taken last spring during a large landfill fire at Juniper Ridge Landfill that was exclusively covered by Sunlight Media Collective

Stop the extension of Casella’s Contract! 

Maine’s Bureau of General Services (BGS) is considering a proposal for a 6-year extension of the Operating Service Agreement (OSA) between the State of Maine and Casella to manage Juniper Ridge Landfill.The OSA would be extended from 2034 until 2040. The current agreement has 10 years remaining. 

Over the past two decades, residents, environmental organizations, and legislators have been questioning Casella’s ability to manage Juniper Ridge Landfill. Casella’s performance has been dismal – not just in Maine, but in every state it has operated.

It’s time to TERMINATE the existing contract rather than considering an EXTENSION. Please join us & testify against this proposal in person on Thursday, February 15th.

 

The hearing will be held at 6:00 p.m. in the Eastern and Veterans room at Jeff’s Catering at 15 Event Center Way, Brewer Maine, 04412. Please plan to keep your testimony to 3 minutes.

Juniper Ridge Landfill Megadump Part 1 — video by Sunlight Media Collective.

What we are asking:

  • There should be NO renewal or extension of the Operating Service Agreement until there is a full evaluation of Casella’s performance at JRL. Bureau Director William Longfellow stated just last year to the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, it was highly unusual to have a 30-year contract with anyone. Why should the OSA be extended?
  • Renewal or extension of the OSA should NOT be considered without a license for expansion.
  • A license for expansion should NOT be issued until operations at JRL are structured to preserve disposal capacity for Maine-generated waste.
  • Obligations of Environmental Justice statutes must be met for the Public Benefit Determination.

Below are talking points for your written comments and testimony:

 1. Casella mismanages Juniper Ridge Landfill. 

There have been numerous instances of landfill mismanagement over the years. In May of 2023,a fire broke out at Juniper Ridge Landfill which burned for four hours. Casella nor the DEP still have not identified the cause of the fire. During an uncontrolled burn, dioxins are produced and introduced into the environment when waste is burned, and can settle on vegetation and bio-accumulate within the food chain. Exposure to dioxins has been linked to suppression of the immune system, disruption of hormonal systems, liver damage, skin rashes, reproductive and developmental disorders, as well as certain kinds of cancer

In February 2023, Casella refused to accept sludge at Juniper Ridge, creating a sludge crisisand putting Waste Water Treatment plants in a tough position. Casella claimed increased amounts of sludge caused landfill instability. However, Casella reported no increase in sludge disposal at Juniper Ridge Landfill since LD 1911 became law in 2022. Casella’s own data undermined their attempt to scapegoat a law that has helped protect Mainers from serious health consequences of spreading PFAS contaminated sludge on farm lands. There has been no reportor accountability for the incident, claiming this manufactured emergency as a reason to continue importing out-of-state waste to manage instability.

In their two decades of operation, Casella has been unable to manage odors from their operations at Juniper Ridge landfill. They have admitted that they are unable to control odors from operations, and stated they are afraid to introduce more air into the system to mitigate odors fearing it would cause another landfill fire.

2. Casella has been a bad actor in Maine, with a track record of regulatory and environmental infractions across the region.

For years, Casella exploited a loophole in Maine law to use up precious state-landfill capacity to profit off of the importation of out of state waste. Additionally, Casella dumps minimally treated leachate into the sacred Penobscot River, harming the Penobscot Indian Nation.

In the past five years, Casella has violated environmental laws at their facilities in Bethlehem, NH; Southbridge, MA; and Seneca, NY. Casella’s violations across the region demonstrate its lack of competence to operate any facilities, let alone extend their contract in Maine.   

3. Casella impedes Maine’s waste management hierarchy goals and recycling goals.

Our waste hierarchy statute states landfilling is a last resort, and yet Casella charges exorbitant recycling fees that work against our recycling goals. Furthermore, Juniper Ridge is a publicly-owned landfill obligated by statute to provide disposal for waste generated in Maine. However, Casella, a company that profits over a billion dollars annually, makes money off of disposal of waste at Juniper Ridge. Waste becomes a commodity that grows share-holder profits and provides little incentive to create less waste. 

Please join us on February 15th and state your opposition to extending this harmful contract with a company that cares little about wasting Maine.

Thank you for your continued dedication to keeping Maine safe and healthy for all to enjoy.

The team at Don’t Waste ME!

PFAS in Juniper Ridge Landfill Leachate – Penobscot Nation Water Quality Dept. Responds — video by Sunlight Media Collective.