Council Votes to Send Letter to Environmental Dept

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

With a 10-1 vote, the City Council voted to send a letter to the DEP in opposition of the Wheelabrator facility expanding any further.

State Rep. Roselee Vincent spoke on a motion made by Council President Jessica Giannino to have the council send a letter to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in opposition to Wheelabrator’s proposal to expand the Saugus ash landfill.

The deadline for public comment to the DEP is Jan. 12.

“When I speak about Wheelabrator, Saugus, I usually start with the fact that it is the only unlined ash landfill still allowed to operate in Massachusetts,” Vincent said. “The fact that it is located in the midst of a wetland, that is designated as an area of critical environmental concern. This is a 40-year-old, unlined landfill that would never be allowed to be built by today’s standards.”

The landfill was to be totally capped and closed in 1996, Vincent said.

Vincent acknowledged that Councillor Dan Rizzo has already sent a letter of his own to DEP.

The recent storm that flooded and raised the Saugus River that in turn flooded the Riverside section of Revere.

“This directly impacted my constituents,” Vincent said, adding that the Pines River is also at risk. “It is our responsibility to mitigate the effects of these storm surges. This includes being responsible and opposing dumping more ash in an unlined landfill that is a half mile across the river from out constituents.”

Ward 5 Councillor John Powers said he hears about the good things in Saugus building playgrounds and parks with Wheelabrator donations.

Councillor Dan Rizzo believes the entire area could be impacted by Wheelabrator’s operations.

“It’s an unlined facility that could no doubt leach into the wetlands,” he said. “To have this sitting in the middle of an urban environment makes no sense.”

Councillor Anthony Zambuto, the only councillor to vote not to sign the letter, has been a public supporter of Wheelabrator.

“I’ve heard a lot of quote unquote facts,” Zambuto said.

“They are facts,” Vincent chimed in.

“Please don’t interrupt me,” Zambuto said.

Zambuto said there is a collection system for the water and “not a drop of water escapes that site.”

“Those of us who have looked into it knows what goes on up there,” Zambuto said, adding that it is a clay site.

Zambuto said the ash, often called toxic is not according to EPA and DEP standards.

“If they tell me it’s non-toxic, guess what, I believe them,” he said, adding that he believes Wheelabrator does not contribute to cancer.

Zambuto noted how the city has a 10-year contract with Wheelabrator to dispose of the city trash at a trash to energy plant.

“That’s the safest form of energy there is,” Zambuto said. “If they were forced to truck the ash to Shrewbury or someplace else, forget about the 50 to 60 trucks coming through Revere. The bottom line is that it would be $15 or more a ton in our tipping fees. Let’s assume that extrapolates to $300 on a seniors tax bill. On a fixed income, that’s why I’m against writing the letter against this non-toxic ash.”

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