Nancy Oden


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Pre-Hearing Testimony, October 30, 2006

 

To: MAINE LAND USE REGULATION COMMISSION

From: CLEAN WATER COALITION, Intervenor in Proceedings

Re: ZP-703, Re-zoning Petition for Toxic Dump in Township 14, Washington County

 

To the LURC Commissioners:

Clean Water Coalition hereby submits our objections to the proposed re-zoning of 190 acres, within a proposed larger purchase of 4,700 acres, for a toxic construction & demolition debris (C&DD) dump in Township 14, Washington County. 

We are not using paid "experts" in this Testimony. Instead we're relying on our knowledge of the area and our knowledge from past experience as to the harm this project would inflict on this site, as well as those of us who live here and our woods, waters, wildlife, and fisheries. 

We appeal to the LURC Commissioners to consider those of us who live here, rather than the money-hunger (which they admit) of a very few, and to deny this Petition. 

Thank you for considering the following:

POINT 1.

The proposed site is a stunningly unsuitable place for a toxic dump. It sits above hundreds of acres of wetlands and vernal pools, and upstream of two known Atlantic Salmon streams (Clifford and Chase Mills), two large and popular residential, recreational lakes (Gardner and Cathance), and nearby coastal fisheries, where many local people make their livelihoods digging for clams, mussel dragging, and lobster fishing.

Some of these waters provide drinking water for people, all are habitat for wildlife and fish, and are within feeding range of many, many species, including Bald Eagles, osprey, deer, bear, many species of warblers and other songbirds, ducks, geese, and thousands of smaller species whose habitat and lives would be destroyed. 

POINT 2.

While the Petition is to re-zone 190 acres for a 30-acre dump plus roads, etc. within 4,700-acres of working forest woods and waters, we learn from the Petitioner's own actions and from other dumpers in Maine that, once permitted, their initial dumping areas fill up quickly with from-away garbage, and then the dumpers apply for expansion after expansion until the area's physical limitations are reached.

Since the Petitioners plan to purchase--if the dump is permitted--4,700 acres (about 8 square miles!), there is virtually no physical limitation to how large and destructive this mound of toxic material could grow.

The Petitioner, Marion Township Landfill, LLC, currently is running a 6-acre, unlined, leaking, construction & demolition debris (C&DD) dump which, instead of the 20 years it was to have lasted, has been nearly filled up in about six years.

They have filled it with from-away C&DD trash because, as their spokesperson, Dean Bradshaw, said to the Washington County Commissioners in open meeting, "We like the money."

Dumps which accept other than local trash become SACRIFICE ZONES, good for little else, which makes them even more attractive to garbage profiteers who bring in waste from away.

Here are three examples:

  1. Norridgewock was a small local dump until a former DEP employee (Alva Achorn) bought it and began bringing in out-of-state garbage. Local people agonized as they watched trucks from all over the country bringing in who-knows-what (why would trucks from Colorado be taking materials to a dump in Maine?) through their town; there were--and still are--spills of burning incinerator ash and other garbage, traffic accidents, noisy trucks, etc.
     
    Then DEP approved the dump's purchase by Waste Management Systems, Inc., the world's largest nuclear, chemical, and hazardous waste dumper and dealer. No one knows, or is checking, what comes into that dump.  There should be Geiger counters at our borders to check all incoming trucks.
     
    Norridgewock is now a SACRIFICE ZONE, waters have been contaminated, an important stream has been ruined, people's lives changed as the dump grew to their property boundaries, and still they fight the expansions.
     
  2. Hampden's huge dump, right on I-95, is now owned by Casella, who owns most of Maine's waste facilities. This mountain of toxic waste is filled with mostly out of state waste. No one is checking (except themselves) what goes in there. This dump also, if our informants are correct, should be checked with a Geiger counter.
     
    "Sawyer Mountain," so-called, is scheduled to close in a few years because it can no longer physically expand. It will continue to leach toxics into surrounding waters for a long, long time. Once contamination gets into the fractured bedrock with which Maine is underlain, there is no chance of cleanup.
     
  3. Old Town's dump, purchased by the State for $26 million from Georgia-Pacific (which almost immediately closed the mill and left the state), is now owned by the people of Maine, who will be ultimately responsible for damage it causes. It's being run by and profits are for Casella on a no-bid contract.
     
    This dump, as Hampden's, Norridgewock's, and all others, smells really bad so that neighbors are very disturbed. It is sited on wetlands near streams running directly into the Penobscot River.
     
    Casella has recently applied for another expansion.

POINT 3.

ALL DUMPS LEAK. While this applicant, like all the others, proposes to lay down an "impermeable" liner before dumping their toxic filth, testimony from other applicants' own geologists have testified time and again under oath that All Dumps Leak.

In Clean Water Coalition's "Reply Brief" to the proposed dump in Township 30 in 1989, which we will copy for the LURC Commissioners at the Public Hearing on November 9, 2006, there is testimony that the applicant's geologist admitted, under questioning and under oath, that all dumps leak.

This fact, which has been confirmed by geologists at Public Hearings around the Norridgewock dump, the Old Town dump, and the Twp. 30 proposed dump, is irrefutable.

Therefore, any dump of toxic materials, such as construction and demolition debris, which is anything in a building or thrown on the truck, which an applicant proposes to site in wetlands and over millions of tons of fresh water, should be denied.

No liner can hold up against the chemicals which form at the bottom of a dump, and these liners usually crack and break early on as trucks drive on them to dump their loads.

The myth of "impermeable liners" is simply another falsehood to lull people into thinking any toxic dump could be made "safe."

POINT 4.

Construction and Demolition Debris is not merely left-over 2x4's. It contains a nightmarish collection of anything the dumper throws on the truck, including barrels of hazardous chemical wastes, etc. We have statistics on this which we will bring in for the Commissioners on November 9. No one is checking, just as with municipal solid waste dumps where hazardous wastes also are sneaked in.

POINT 5.

Washington County and nearby Hancock County are seismically active areas. Earthquakes within the past 20 years or so centered in New Brunswick and Washington County and nearby Hancock County or the near ocean have rocked our houses, knocking things off shelves, and shaking entire buildings. The latest series of earthquakes began with a 4.2 magnitude centered near Mount Desert Island just a few weeks ago, and has been followed by a number of temblors which could be felt around the Township 14 region and farther. They are continuing to this date.

This means that any statements that a liner would be "impermeable," or that a dump wouldn't leak are even less credible than before. Cracks open up in the underlying fractured granite, allowing toxic chemicals to pour down into the pure waters, irretrievably and irrevocably them.

POINT 6.

Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner David Littell was quoted very recently in the Bangor Daily News (clipping provided at Hearing) that the Old Town dump provides enough space for all Maine waste. This means, on its face, that no new dump, especially one as large as proposed for Township 14, is needed at all.

POINT 7.

The State Planning Office stated, in a letter from Martha Freeman dated April 10, 2006, "A regional landfill that would provide disposal capacity for construction and demolition debris to 15 communities in Washington county would be consistent with the State Waste Management and Recycling Plan."

This clearly states that the State Planning Office Plan would approve a C&DD site for the 15 towns in the consortium. They say nothing about other regions' garbage.

POINT 8.

The real question is -- why should Washington County allow other people's trash to be dumped in our woods and waters?  Why don't other areas take care of their own trash?

POINT 9.

Because the applicant is a consortium of 15 towns' representatives (even though the townspeople do not, for the most part, know of this proposal), they could, if they chose, legally block any trash not from those 15 towns. The fact that they are deliberately choosing to accept from-away trash to gather money says that they have considered  neither viable alternatives nor the deleterious effects  of their proposal.

The ostensible reason given by the (hired) "engineer," Dean Bradshaw of Dennysville, is that they will use the money to lower the towns' tipping fees. If this is so, the reported $1.5 million plus they have already gathered from taking in from-away garbage should have been used for that purpose. Instead, it is being used to attempt to build a much larger dump for from-away garbage.

That money they already collected could have been used to lower everyone's tipping fees by creating a large collection site for re-usable, recyclable materials which could be made into "new" products, or fixed up for resale.

POINT 10.

We would ask the LURC Commissioners to consider the CUMULATIVE EFFECT of this proposal added to the Cumulative Effect of all the other toxic dumps in the State of Maine.

The cumulative effect of this toxic dump, in addition to other stresses on our woods and waters (pesticides, clearcutting, paper mill pollution) in the area of the proposed dump and Maine, would be to create irreparable harm to portions of Maine's woods and waters, with concomitant loss of wildlife, fisheries, and quality of life for people who live in the region.

It would contaminate drinking water for local people, and send toxic chemicals into the streams, lakes, ponds, vernal pools, and nearby coastal waters with a cumulative effect on people's livelihoods from the sea, and from the recreational livelihoods on the lakes and surrounding woods.

POINT 11.

Leachate ponds, intended to collect the toxic chemicals which leak out of the dump, will spill over and leak into surrounding wetlands and downward into all the aforementioned waters, ending up in coastal fisheries.

The ponds will fill up with rain water and snow, which will cause them to spill over.

Wildlife will drink from these poisoned water ponds because they are within their living areas. It is truly unacceptable and abominable to deliberately poison the birds and wildlife and fish, as well as people.

POINT 12.

The Petitioner claims they are running out of space in their 6-acre C&DD dump, which was supposed to have lasted 20 years or so. Perhaps they are running short of space, but the problem is self-created since they have chosen to bring in other people's garbage.

They should not be rewarded by allowing them to bring much, much more from-away garbage, and toxic materials at that.

Clean Water Coalition has raised the question of whether the federal government, so eager to clean up the Katrina mess, would consider paying dumpers to truck that hazardous filth to Maine. This is a serious consideration, and one which we absolutely could not countenance.

Since the 6-acre dump isn't yet full, we propose they shut it off to all but Washington County C&DD, and that they immediately begin recycling all possible materials to conserve space and our natural resources.

POINT 13.

In these times, when we must slow down global climate change, forests and wetlands will play a special part. Trees absorb climate-warming greenhouse gases, block fierce winds, provide food and shelter for us and for wildlife, and their attendant wetlands hold back floods.

We should be planting trees by the millions, not cutting them down unnecessarily, especially not for a dumping place for materials which will leach toxic chemicals into the woods and waters, harming all life in the area.

POINT 14.

We propose the following alternatives to dumps of all sorts, although we will need some small ones locally for materials which cannot be re-used

A recycling center such as this could be set up in Washington County to take care of most of our throw-aways, and perhaps some, which are still usable, from other areas, as well;

POINT 15.

This Petition does not represent a "public good" or "public benefit." It would damage the quality of life around Township 14 for people, wildlife, the fisheries, and numerous members of species would simply be wiped out without the woods and clean waters necessary to their survival.

In Summary, the Clean Water Coalition feels this Petition is neither necessary nor good nor acceptable, and asks most fervently that the LURC Commissioners deny this Petition to turn a large part of Township 14's and Washington County's remaining woods and waters into a large, toxic dump.

Thank you.

 

                                                                                  
Nancy Oden, Coordinator
Clean Water Coalition
October 30, 2006

 

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