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Landfill permit appeal is urged

Council faces tight deadline

June 22, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — A local resident is pushing for a Town Council vote on whether to appeal the recently-issued landfill permit, but they would have a very narrow window in which to do it.

Under state law, there's a 30-day window for such action, and that closes Wednesday, June 30. The permit itself states that DEP needs to receive a "notice of intention" five days before the formal appeal filing, which would make the deadline this Friday.

There are council meetings posted for both of those nights. The council is also slated to meet Thursday night after Monday's regular session failed to make quorum; this issue was not on that agenda, but one proponent, John Pulawski, wants to add it.

"There are a lot of things [in the permit] I'm opposed to but I'm specifically urging the council to address the liability issue," he said Monday. " We were told Casella would take responsibility for [the older, unlined landfill cells], but it changed somewhere between the contract and the permit."

The sections of the landfill he's referring to predate Casella's taking over management of the site, under the name of Southbridge Recycling and Disposal Park, Inc (SRD), a few years ago. Before then, it was run by Wood Recycling for several years, but the property has always been owned by the town itself.

A landfill has been up there since the late 1970s, and that history is what worries Pulawski and some others. He said he was concerned that the new permit's language exposes Southbridge to liability for long-term cleanup.

The contract (approved May 2007) states, "SRD shall be responsible, at its sole cost and expense, for all closure and post-closure activities required by the permits or the [Mass. Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP)] regulations at the landfill facility." It also notes the firm "shall propose the substitution of an alternative FAM [financial assurance mechanism] to replace the current FAM the town maintains."

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

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