New proposed Landfill in Dalton NH

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Sep 3, 2003
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Gorham NH
This one was under my radar,

Dalton is definitely an out of sight out of mind community, lots of farms and woodlands. The section of the Connecticut river north of the Moore dam impoundment is a nice paddle. It does have a nearby exit on I 93 and given that Casella is running out delay tactics for the Bethlehem Landfill closure they need a new home for their lucrative business of burying predominantly southern New England trash. A lot of the staff of the Gilman Papermill lived on the Dalton side of the river due to the big difference in income taxes and sales taxes in VT.

The brooks leaving the Bethlehem landfill site have been reported to be subject to numerous water quality violations over the years due to run off from the landfill.
Where I live we have a “Landfill”. Not quit sure how a “Landill” works though.;) Can you hike there?
This project is still going through permitting and looks like CLF is moving to sue. Casella has very deep pockets and knows that local opposition is very underfunded and will suffer from burnout so they just keep plugging at it as the payout is in the 100s of millions over the life of landfill CLF on the other hand has access to funding and rarely picks a fight they do not feel confident about winning.

The landfill in Success Township, Mt Carberry, is owned by the local communities and Coos County acting on the unorganized townships behalf. The claim was that it would only accept waste from out of the region for as long as it took to pay off the initial debts for buying it but over the years the temptation is to accept out of the area waste as its great cash flow to subsidize the costs to run the place. I think its got another 30 or 40 years on it and as far as I know has stayed out of any DES actions. There is a neighborhood in Berlin that was downwind of the former pulpmill that on occasion demands special concessions from the city now that the far more obvious odor from the pulp mill is long gone due to a perceived odor from the Mt Carberry landfill but it generally doesn't go anywhere. Unlike the existing Bethlehem plant and the proposed Dalton plant, the Mt Carberry plants leachate (Liquids draining from the landfill) are discharged to The Berlin Municipal Wastewater treatment plant, rather than unmonitored sites in a local watershed. Any gases from the landfill are collected, cleaned and then piped to the local papermil to run part of their boilers.
Where I live we have a “Landfill”. Not quit sure how a “Landill” works though.;) Can you hike there?

You probably wouldn't want to hike there. i worked with a guy in the 90's who as a kid used to climb the hill in a local private landfill. When he told me the name, I told him about a job I had in the 80's doing bookkeeping for a trash hauler. Our company had their own key so we could dump after hours. I'm sure it was all on the up and up, afterall, when the authorities came and took our records, it was not what they were looking for..... :D (and you only thought I rained on your parades, I changed how he remembered his childhood)
During the week in the AM there is usually quite a line up along RT 3 north of the Franconia Parkway of trucks waiting to get into Bethlehem. There was spill of shredded plastic into the ocean near Searsport Maine. Shredded plastic waste is being imported from Ireland to be burnt in trash burner in Maine,. One of the bales fell in the water and another broke apart. Maine has rules against importing waste from other states but there is huge loop hole that allows recyclable products to be brought into the state. like demolition debris The debris are dumped on the ground, moved sorted with a loader and most is reloaded into a truck bound for the Old Town landfill (state owned), Crossroads in Norridgewock or PERC. Most folks do not care where it goes after they put it in the curb.

The biggest scam is zero sort recyclables. Landfill owners convinced towns to go to zero sort ostensibly to reduce landfill flow but the resultant recyclable streams from zero sort are contaminated far more than segregated recyclables. That reduces the value of the products and many towns decide to landfill it as the market is bad for contaminated zero sort. Areas that stuck with segregated recycling have been impacted far less with the big drop in pricing. Of course for quite a few years the scam was to fill empty shipping containers to be sent to China for recycling. It was just plain trash but the shipping was close to free and there was always an unregulated dump to send it to on the other end.
No different than rare earth metals mining. Out of sight, out of mind. But I want my green electric car. Pros and cons to everything.
There are plenty of year-round residents on Forest Lake. It is a true gem. I can't believe someone would propose something like this, but I really shouldn't be surprised. The proposed landfill is much bigger than the lake.
As pointed out, Dalton had no planning and zoning. Only residents can vote on planning and zoning so second home owners are not in the loop. Land was cheap and its sort of close to an Interstate. The other landfill they own in Newport VT is close to capacity and has significant impact on Lake Memphremagog in Newport VT (its an international water shared with Canada and drinking water source) so if the northbound trucks on I 91 have to take a right onto I 93 in Saint J instead of heading north over Sheffield Heights to Newport VT the Dalton location is ideal. What I wonder about is where does the leachate that is inevitably collected go?. The owner currently has a problem with leachate getting into the Ammonoosuc in Bethlehem at their current landfill. The community owned AVRRD landfill in Berlin has always gone to a downstream treatment plant but there is no treatment plant in Dalton. When it rains there is quite a bit of flow until the landfill is full, closed and capped.
There are plenty of year-round residents on Forest Lake. It is a true gem. I can't believe someone would propose something like this, but I really shouldn't be surprised. The proposed landfill is much bigger than the lake.

I haven't commented on this prior as I was very close to the issue and Casella went sue crazy on many of the project opponents who I know well. Saw mention yesterday of a counter-suit against Casella.....

I ran into an old-timer friend and abutting neighbor of the landowner at the sand pile in Bethlehem last year. The old timer said along the lines of "I love (so & so), known him since he was a kid, but sometimes the guy has rocks in his head. What the heck is he thinking putting a landfill next to the park and the lake."

The land between the proposed site and the lake is rather wet. And even though the surface drainages run away from the lake, I can't help but think ground water moves down the hill towards the lake.

The first move by the developer was to subdivide the proposed landfill lot to create a buffer between the pit and the state park boundary, so they would not have to deal with the state (park) as an abutter. The abutters stepped up to oppose this subdivision and it failed with the town.
Looks like a delay to the proposed project. There were well attended public hearings that raised a lot of issues. Casella was trying to permit a very large piece of land far larger than the initially proposed landfill, obviously with an eye for major expansion for decades. My guess is they will target a smaller area. This is not exclusive to Casella, The AVRRDD landfill in Success was designed for future expansion and at one point legislation intended to impact Casella caused AVRRDD some problems.
Are more and more recyclables just ending up in landfills?...with the trade war,China stopped importing plastics,our toxic crap too?..I recycle but often wonder what happens to it when the magic truck makes it all disappear :rolleyes:
From what I hear the towns that stuck with segregated recyclables and enforce the rules have had markets for recyclables pretty consistently. The same folks like Cassella who own many landfills saw the tonnage being diverted from their highly profitable landfills and convinced many municipalities that zero sort was the way to go and they built the zero sort plants. Zero sort costs less than conventional recycling. The problem is zero sort makes a lower grade contaminated stream of recyclables that no one wanted, with plenty of empty cargo containers leaving American ports its was cheaper to deem these stream recyclables and ship them offshore then to haul them to landfill.
I hope this indicates a trend. Waste companies treat NH like a poor, rural southern state as far as waste dumping goes.

Enough already.
Like not letting projects even to begin with so close to major water ways.
When the mills in Berlin were looking at building a new landfill they spent a lot of time and money to locate an ideal location. When they talked to the state, the state insisted that they look at numerous other locations, in the end they ended up where they had started.

The Bethlehem landfill was started in 1976 by the town in an old gravel pit. Gravel pits go hand in hand with aquifers and the environmental rules in the 1976 were far different than today. There was no state permitting or siting and many town landfills were located in old gravel pits. Bethlehem at the time and for many years was a high tax town in the area and generally the approach was dump trash where it was cheap and local. The rules changed over the next decade and many towns in the region had to close their landfills and replace them with very expensive options or haul the trash to a licensed landfill that in most cases was a grandfathered facility. The state of NH made it tough for the towns, federal and state laws required the towns to close their landfills without providing options to the towns. Casella stepped in and lobbied the state to make improvements to the Bethlehem landfill to keep it open. They have played cat and mouse with the state to keep it open under the guise of helping the town of Bethlehem while packing the landfill with highly profitable out of state and southern NH trash. It should have closed several years ago but up until recently they have managed to keep the town supporting them by offering incentives to the town and voters.

No town wants a landfill, the Berlin landfill (actually located in Success township) slipped in under a loophole in that the mills owned the majority of the township with few if any residents. The surrounding towns all had unlined landfills in old gravel pits along rivers. The mills needed landfill space and could not afford the cost for a new state of the art facility. The state realized that the towns needed a solution, so they allowed the mills to build a new state of the art facility in Success with the understanding that it would allow the local towns to dump at cost. That worked until the mills were no longer profitable and the landfill was sold to the towns. That landfill is double lined with leak detection and the leachate is treated in the Berlin WWTP before it goes into the Androscoggin River. To date its environmental record is excellent. They do accept some out of area waste to replace the waste lost when the pulp mill shut down and the papermill substantially curtailed its operation. My guess is when Bethlehem finally closes, the town will be knocking on the door of the landfill in Berlin and the Bethlehem waste will displace waste from areas farther away.
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Unfortunately it wasn't the state who had sued against this violation of the Clean Water Act, it was the Conservation Law Foundation looking out for us. Here in town some are commenting that the town didn't even get enough in the settlement to cover the towns legal costs, but the town was not involved in this suit. Good thing as there has been so much legal action between the town and the landfill, that it's good to have an outside watchdog identify and pursue source elimination and remediation.

I should mention the Dalton new landfill proposal is looking like a bit of a ploy to sway sentiment in Bethlehem to continue and expand the landfill here. There was a racetrack/dragstrip proposal in recent past on the same property that faced major resistance. Just making up a little whimsical North Country imaginary conspiracy-drama here; where the landowner is so pissed off at the environmentalists for preventing his drag strip that he welcomes in an even more offensive use of his property, with the dual purpose of making the existing landfill in the adjoining town look like the more reasonable option to continue with. Then reintroduce your original land use proposal that now looks so much less impactful than the threat of a new landfill.
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