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Residents Want Lid on Landfill Expansion Plan

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016   

SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. - Put a lid on it. That's the message from residents who live near the proposed expansion of the Southbridge landfill. An environmental review process is underway to expand the waste landfill, but local residents say the existing landfill is already contaminating local well water and they don't want to see any new permits issued.

Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG) staff attorney Kirstie Pecci says the Southbridge landfill currently covers 52 acres and waste from the existing landfill is likely contaminating local well-water with known carcinogens.

"We know that we have wells that have 1,4-dioxane and in them," she says. "If you live in a rural area like this, if you can't get clean water from your well, you can't get clean water at home it's a real problem. "

Last week state officials approved a response plan by Casella Waste Systems to the tainted water problem, which includes the company providing bottled water to impacted homes. The contaminated wells are in Charlton, but citizens are concerned that untested wells in Sturbridge and Southbridge might be contaminated as well.

Two thousand petitions were delivered to state environmental agencies last week expressing concerns about the planned expansion. Pecci says local residents don't want the state to even consider expanding the landfill until the existing issues are resolved.

"People want MEPA, the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency, to stop the process and that's what the petition says," says Pecci. "Don't allow Cosella to expand, don't give them any permits, don't move forward until we know where the contamination is coming from-and until it is cleaned up."

The Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency is conducting the first stage of the review process. Pecci points out the landfill is already accepting a lot more waste from a lot more places than it used too. She says prior to 2008, it accepted about 25,000 tons of local municipal solid waste, but now accepts about 400,000 tons annually from surrounding states.


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