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Glass pieces in access road prick concern

Forming the upper half of the access road’s route, this hill includes a noticeable quantity of glass fragments. Such use is widely considered appropriate by road construction standards, but may have a subtle chemical impact on water leaching through it. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
October 25, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — To Roger Caouette, the idea that the glass bottles people leave out for recycling end up being buried as part of a roadbed doesn't make much sense.

He raised the issue with the Board of Health last week, after submitting photos of part of the access road route that includes a lot of multi-colored glass fragments.

Casella's John Farese, however, said that use is generally recognized as a "beneficial use as a construction material," and Health Director James Morin agreed.

Morin argued the state sees use in the road as better than mining more rock for the roadway or simply dumping the glass in a landfill. He noted the technical term for such fragments is "glass cullet," and as long as it doesn't exceed a certain percentage of the roadbed's material, it's legal.

"Before 1994, that glass came back as a glass bottle," Morin said. But today, he argued, it's more energy and cost efficient to reuse it this way.

Maybe so, but to board member Anne Beinema, the overall reaction made her think Caouette "was getting blown off."

"I didn't think glass of that magnitude should be in the road," she said, wondering when it was put there.

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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