Councillors Support Giannino, Serino in Opposition to Expansion at Wheelabrator

The Revere City Council voted 8-1 to join Councillors Jessica Giannino and Richard Serino in stating their opposition to a vertical expansion at Wheelabrator in Saugus. Council President Anthony Zambuto was the lone councillor to not support the statement.

Following is the text of the statement:

We the undersigned members of the Revere City Council wish to go on record today in support of the legal analysis and reasoning against permitting a vertical expansion at Wheelabrator Saugus, Incorporated (the “Landfill”).

Currently, there are two central legal arguments against the permission of expansion. Firstly, the 1989 Amended Consent Order (“ACO”) between MassDEP and the Wheelabrator Saugus Energy from Waste facility (“Facility”) requires the Landfill be shut down when the Landfill reached the grades approved in the 1989 Final Engineering Plan (“FEP”). Over the decades, despite eleven amendments allowing the filling of storm water valleys to the ACO and subsequent modifications to the FEP, the maximum height limit of 50 feet in the FEP has never been amended—and the 2018 final decision by MassDEP to modify the facility’s permit and FEP, preserved that same maximum height limit.

The Landfill must be scheduled for closure, and more modifications shall not be permitted, because as of the filling of the last two storm water valleys, the facility has met its FEP grades—the amendments and modifications have allowed for Phases 1-5 of the facility to be altered to their capacity. There is nowhere else for the Landfill to expand to and MassDEP’s Final decision does not authorize a vertical expansion beyond the 50 feet limit that has been in place for over 30 years. Therefore, Wheelabrator cannot, legally, continue to expand the Landfill and/or extend its operation.

Secondly, if the Landfill is not scheduled to be shutdown based on the above reasoning, and Wheelabrator seeks to undertake a vertical expansion, it must complete the filing process for a major modification/expansion beyond the current ACO and must apply to MassDEP for a new Determination of Suitability. Vertical modifications “beyond the limits of an approved plan” are classified as a “major modification” and as such requires a Determination of Site Suitability.

As MassDEP is barred from issuing a favorable Determination of Site Suitability for any expansion of the Landfill, expansion of the Landfill will not go before the Town of Saugus Board of Health for a site assignment. Local Boards of Health are only required to hold a Site Assignment hearing or issue a Site Assignment to applicants if they first receive a favorable Determination of Site Suitability.

Alongside the legal issues of expansion, there are numerous environmental and health issues as well. Wheelabrator’s ash landfill is located within a one-mile radius of Environmental Justice communities in Saugus, and its impacts extend well beyond Saugus to neighboring Environmental Justice communities in Revere and Lynn. For decades, these communities have been burdened by pollution and nitrogen oxides being emitted by Wheelabrator. Breathing air with high NOx concentrations can cause respiratory distress, particularly in people with asthma. NOx also reacts with other chemicals in the air to form ground-level ozone— another respiratory irritant—and particulate matter—which can lead to respiratory irritation, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and even death.

For these reasons, we stand in support against permitting a vertical expansion at Wheelabrator Saugus.


Jessica A. Giannino

Richard J. Serino

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