LANDFILL IN BETHLEHEM RECEIVES APPROVAL FOR STAGE VI EXPANSION, DESPITE HISTORY OF LOCAL OPPOSITION
[BETHLEHEM, NH]—Casella Waste Systems, operator of the North Country Environmental Services (NCES) solid waste landfill in Bethlehem, received state approval to expand the landfill under the Stage VI expansion permit on October 9, 2020.
Residents are concerned that the landfill in the heart of the White Mountains in Bethlehem poses a serious threat to the environment. The EPA warns that all landfills will eventually leak and what they leak is toxic. Elevated levels of 1,4-Dioxane, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) known as “forever” chemicals, and other chemicals have been discovered in the landfill, where they have the potential to leak out into groundwater and drinking water. Reports indicate that pollutants from the landfill have already contaminated the Ammonoosuc River, a potential Clean Water Act violation currently being litigated in federal court.
Under the Stage VI expansion permit, the Casella / NCES landfill is expected to increase its size by six acres.
“A larger landfill means bigger consequences,” said Shaina Kasper, New Hampshire State Director with Community Action Works. “North Country residents shouldn’t have to bear the burden of the whole region’s trash.”
About 34% of the waste at the landfill comes from outside New Hampshire.
This is not the first time Casella has attempted to expand its operations in Bethlehem.
“Bethlehem has voted many times against expansion of this landfill for over the past 25 years,” said Andrea Bryant of Environmental Action of Northern New Hampshire (EANNH). “Bethlehem residents are sending a clear message that this landfill is unwanted.”
“While Casella attempts to perpetuate the harmful waste management systems of the past, New England must envision a truly sustainable and just means of processing waste. Expanding the landfill in Bethlehem is merely another example of state agencies abdicating control and management of solid waste policy,” said Jon Swan of Save Forest Lake. “Comprehensive waste reduction, including a container deposit requirement and composting policies, are attainable solutions and are essential to waste stream diversion. A zero waste future is the only path forward for ensuring a healthy environment and quality of life for future generations of Granite Staters to enjoy. Something stinks and it’s not garbage!”
“We won’t be the dumping ground of New England any longer,” said Fred Anderson of the Forest Lake Association.