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In response to Rachel Goff’s article in the January 10, 2013, issue of The Valley Reporter, “CLEAR (Citizens for Landfill Environmental Accountability and Responsibility) asks the Moretown Select Board for changes.” This was reported inaccurately. Tom and I were not there as representatives of CLEAR but as individual citizens of Moretown.
There were some components not included in the article that affect the overall tone and message of the discussion we had with the board. First and foremost, the article neglected to clearly state our position as we unmistakably shared while there. To clarify that at this time, Tom and I intend to continue our opposition to the continued operation and expansion of the landfill. We were clear that the recommendations that we submitted to the board should not be construed as an indication of a desire to negotiate with the landfill or in any way suggest we were open to the idea of operations continuing at the site.
Our strongest recommendation to the board, omitted from the article, was to not renew the Host Town Agreement (HTA) for operations at all. The history of the ownership of MLI and its performance outside the boundaries of the Solid Waste Management Rules in Vermont continues to support our position. Information about the landfill’s past performance was supplemented by Lisa Ransom (not a member of CLEAR but an affected and concerned citizen) who was also present at the meeting. She pointed out that in March of 2010 the landfill almost succeeded in taking in 33,000 tons of soil contaminated with dioxin from a Massachusetts Superfund site and spoke of what the consequences to Moretown could have been if that had occurred.
The article shared our suggestion that if the town renewed any agreement with the landfill it should provide a greater benefit for the town than has been received in the past, and that those most affected should benefit the most. This is a point made because we believe there is a need for increased oversight and consideration of both the property values and the daily impact the landfill has on the residences and businesses along the Route 2 corridor.
If for some inexplicable reason the state allows the continued operation of a landfill that has myriad violations in its history and has made commitments to follow the law only to continue the violations, Tom and I wish for the town to ensure that they hold the landfill accountable at a local level and not solely rely on the state for this answerability. The state can be expected to do its job, but if the landfill is monitored directly by the town, with daily oversight including fines that are included in the HTA, the incentive for the landfill to comply would simply augment the state’s protocols and processes.
Paying directly to the town for their liability will affect the landfill’s profit. This is one method to get the attention of a company such as this and keep their focus on responsible operations. We were clear that monetary compensation is not a solution to the significant issues we are currently facing but a valid means of forced accountability that can also offer the potential to better distribute the compensation to those most affected.
For the board to receive copies of any of the landfill’s dealings with state agencies was suggested to keep the board better apprised of the landfill’s activities with regard to permits, amendments and alleged violations. For whatever reason, it appears that over the years, information has not been consistently reviewed by the board over the years with regard to daily operations and alleged violations. The article indicates the receipt of this information is important with regard to whether the landfill will be allowed to remain open. While true at this time, our primary goal is to ensure the board be fully informed, not selectively informed which is likely if they continue to utilize the landfill as their in turn source. Either regarding closure procedures or operating procedures it is important that the board be aware of all state-to-landfill and landfill-to-state correspondence to protect the town interest.
Douglass lives in Moretown.