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Moretown Landfill expansion update: In order to build, things must get better

In an October 1 letter to Moretown Landfill, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) waste management and protection division informed those who submitted the landfill’s application for expansion that it will not be approved “until the Moretown Landfill sufficiently demonstrates compliance with groundwater protection and odor control criteria,” Ben Gauthier wrote on behalf of the division.

While the Moretown Development Review Board (DRB) and residents have already expressed concern about groundwater contamination in the board’s preliminary hearings regarding the potential construction of a fourth trash cell at the landfill’s Route 2 location, the DEC’s letter was one of the first to quantify issues of odor control, stating that the division has received 49 odor complaints relating to the site in the previous year and that 15 of them were reported as “moderate to strong.”

Indeed, odor control is something “we need to be better at,” Moretown Landfill’s general manager Tom Badowski said at the most recent DRB hearing, which took place on September 27.

Currently, the site has two engines that collect smelly gasses like methane and convert them to energy, “and we’re working on putting in a third,” Badowski said.

 In other words, while Badowski could not deny that the construction of a fourth trash cell—whose wall would be 80 feet higher than those of existing cells—could increase odors in the surrounding area, in recognizing this reality Badowski was prepared to outline a plan to help control and contain the smell.

But is any amount of odor—no matter how faint—acceptable? “I have a right to clean air and clean water,” one resident said at the last hearing, expressing a justifiable concern for his quality of life. “Why are we even considering this project?” he asked.

While those who live near the landfill site have been vocal in their opposition to its expansion, the rest of Moretown residents can only benefit from the large sum of money the town receives from Moretown Landfill under conditions of its host agreement. If Moretown Landfill does not receive approval to construct a fourth trash cell—which would extend the site’s life by 12 to 16 years—it will reach capacity and have to close within the next year or so, and the town will lose out on over $400,000 annually.

Thus, the consideration process will continue with the next DRB hearing, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday, October 11, at 7 p.m. at the temporary town offices located next to the landfill on Route 2.

 

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