The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has approved a permit for the Wheelabrator/Saugus ash landfill, in Saugus, which boarders Revere.
MassDEP has approved the company’s proposals to stage ash residue on the landfill before transport off-site, and to place some additional fill in two valleys on the landfill.
The final decision allows Wheelabrator to place additional ash fill in two valleys within the limit of the landfill, subject to specific conditions. MassDEP also executed an eleventh amendment to the consent order, which includes required mitigation.
“We believe the MassDEP’s approval of the continued use of the monofill represents the best environmental and economic solution for Saugus, the region and the state,” said Jim Connolly, vice president, Environmental, Health and Safety for Wheelabrator Technologies. “The MassDEP’s review of the application was rigorous and transparent, and included extensive public comment. We remain open to a dialogue with Saugus about a long-term plan for Wheelabrator Saugus that will enhance our economic and environmental value to the community.”
State Rep. Roselee Vincent is disappointed in the decision.
“The decision announced today by Commissioner Martin Suuberg and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is more than troubling – it is irresponsible and reprehensible,” Vincent said. “It is disturbing to me that the commissioner could come to this determination after listening to and reading the compelling testimony of residents who live in Wheelabrator’s shadow, and that of environmental experts and local officials.”
Vincent noted that it was even more unsettling is that the MassDEP did not take into account the severe flooding experienced by the neighborhoods surrounding the landfill in January and March.
“Flooding was so severe during the storm surges on Jan. 4, March 2 and 3 that Route 107 and Route 1A, which bound the landfill and Wheelabrator facility on either side of the Rumney Marsh, were closed to traffic because the road was impassible,” she said. “Sadly, it seems that the administration just simply does not care about my constituents who live in Saugus and Revere and whose lives are affected by the operations of this company.
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers said he was 100 percent opposed to the Wheelabrator permit request.
“Not only does this do a disservice to the people who live in Riverside, or the Point of Pines. It does a disservice to everyone who lives in Revere,” Powers said. “When the wind is right it blows over Revere. There are also numerous occasions when the alarms are going off in the plant at night keeping residents awake.”
Powers is concerned about contamination and said he can’t figure why cities and towns have spent millions for clean water, “If this ever leaches into the Pines River then what’s the point,” Powers said.
“If that plant were being built today it would never be permitted,” Powers said.
“MassDEP has failed to do its job in protecting my district and my constituents from this environmental injustice. In the coming days, the Alliance for Health and Environment will be determining next steps, and all options, including appeal and litigation are on the table,” Vincent said.