Community Action Works
Community Action Works

An entire family and the polluter ¼ mile away

Jackie has lived in Saugus, MA her entire life. So has her entire family.

Jackie’s story is a unique one. More than 100 years ago, Jackie’s great-grandparents settled in East Saugus with her grandmother and her eight brothers and sisters. They each built houses right next to each other. As their family grew, the siblings gave their children plots of the land.

Eventually, the whole family was one neighborhood—a big block of houses where Jackie and her cousins all grew up together.

That neighborhood is just a quarter mile from a major polluter.

The Wheelabrator incinerator in Saugus burns trash. Burning trash means toxic pollution in the air we breathe. It also means that the toxic ash that’s leftover after burning needs to go somewhere. In Saugus, it goes into an unlined landfill right on site.

The incinerator has a terrible environmental record. In 2011, Wheelabrator paid the largest-ever fine for environmental violations in Massachusetts.

And neighbors like Jackie’s family have paid the price with their health.

“In my one household alone, there were five cancers between the three of us,” said Jackie. “I lost my mom to brain cancer a few years ago. My dad had two unrelated stage four cancers simultaneously. Aside from my household, I have lost my grandmother to cancer and my grandfather to heart and respiratory issues along with many aunts, uncles and cousins to all different cancers.”

“I have no answers, but lots of questions.”

– Jackie Mercurio

Jackie is part of a coalition called Alliance for Health and Environment working to stop this incinerator.

Right now, there are three bills you can support to protect neighbors in Saugus. They would prevent companies from constructing landfills near designated areas of critical environmental concern, give Boards of Health in cities or towns near solid waste facilities increased say over operations, and require the landfill in Saugus to close in December 2024.

If you live in Massachusetts, please send a letter to your representatives to urge them to support these three bills.

Your voice matters. Thanks for taking action.

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