Special to The Journal
Last week at Saugus Town Hall the WIN/Wheelabrator subcommittee met to receive a presentation from WIN Representative Jim Connelly. Connelly led the presentation, which outlined WIN’s proposal to the Town of Saugus. WIN stated the deal is contingent on receiving both local and state permits. The proposal promises a cash incentive to the Town to allow the facility to continue dumping ash for an additional 25 years at the landfill. This would require an expansion of the landfill as well as bury more than 2.5 million tons of additional ash to the landfill within these 25 years.
MassDEP has already determined that additional ash over the 50-foot maximum height or expanding the footprint will not be allowed, since the incinerator is located in an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). In a letter from MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg to State Representative Jeffrey Turco, dated Nov. 16, 2021, Suuberg states:
“Any future proposals for expansion would require a modification to the facility’s site assignment and approval from MassDEP and the Saugus Board of Health. As the landfill is located within an ACEC, an expansion of the landfill (including vertical expansion) would need to meet the site suitability criteria in the Regulations with respect to the site assignment. While an applicant is free to propose a site assignment modification, and MassDEP will review information submitted, based upon the information presently before MassDEP, the facility fails to meet the necessary site suitability criteria to allow for expansion within the ACEC and therefore would not receive a positive site suitability determination. Without a positive site suitability determination from MassDEP, a proposal to amend the facility’s site assignment to allow for vertical expansion would not advance to the Saugus Board of Health for consideration.”
“20 years after this site should have closed operations, Wheelabrator is still putting profits over people. The idea that our community could allow this or any corporation to pay for the ability to pollute is absurd. Under no circumstances do I support ANY expansion of the unlined ash landfill that sits in the center of the beautiful Rumney Marsh, an ACEC itself” said Representative Giannino (D-Revere). “Saugus and Revere voters cannot be silenced with money. The damage to the environment and the health of neighbors will surely surpass any monetary benefit posed by this expansion if it hasn’t already. I’m opposed to this or any scheme that risks the health of our neighbors or neighborhoods.”
“’Environmental justice’ means nothing if a large corporation can simply buy off local officials in one town at the expense of their residents and neighboring communities,” said Representative Turco (D-Winthrop). “Decades of additional damage have been done to our environment and the health of our families, friends and neighbors by continued use of this landfill. I join with so many others in demanding that the Commonwealth give meaning to our laws and to prohibit any further landfill expansion in this Area of Critical Environmental Concern.”
“No amount of money will ever mitigate the physiological damage done to the people of Revere & Saugus, and the ecological damage done to the Rumney Marsh Area. There should be no expansion of the ash landfill, especially in an area of critical environmental concern. The proposal by WIN to pay-off the affected municipalities is environmental bribery and is an affront to the intelligence of people from Revere & Saugus,” said Senator Lydia Edwards (D-Boston).
The next WIN/Wheelabrator subcommittee public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 17th at 7pm in Saugus Town Hall. During this meeting, interested attendees will be given the opportunity to provide remarks on WIN’s proposal to the Town of Saugus.