Trash Dump Place Near Me – Dozens of trucks loaded with waste pass through the gates of the Juniper ridge landfill in the old town every day.
Near the entrance, they are greeted by a sign with prohibited items including refrigerators, propane tanks and dead animals. At the bottom, in big red letters, is a warning: “The Juniper Ridge Landfill accepts only waste generated in Maine.”
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That rule — no waste from other states — has been a central tenet of Maine’s trash laws since the late 1980s. The state even bought Juniper Ridge in 2004 as a result, in part.
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It’s also misleading: Other states have sent hundreds of thousands of tons of construction waste to state landfills over the years.
Massachusetts is the largest exporter of all that wood, brick, asphalt and other trash, much of which is banned from its landfills. In some years, imports accounted for nearly a third of the amount landfilled in Maine.
“Everything has to be ‘generated’ in Maine. Well, that’s kind of a trick word. It’s not like it was all dumped in Maine for the first time,” says Ed Spencer, an Old Town resident who lives less than two miles from the dump. “It was all a scam and now it’s just grown into an established waste path.”
More than 60% of the licensed space at Juniper Ridge is occupied, according to state records.
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Along with the steady importation of construction debris, the landfill received an increasing amount of waste from Maine, including construction materials, household trash, and sewage sludge. This has nearly doubled its fill rate in recent years, and within six years it has begun to expand once again.
Environmental activists, neighbors of the landfill, including the Penobscot Nation, and a growing group of lawmakers have decried the unique circumstances that allow private companies to dump so much material from Massachusetts at the state facility, despite laws that were once meant to prevent it.
“It’s really just filling the Juniper Ridge landfill,” says Peter Blair, an attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation. “It’s a huge amount of available capacity that only increases the need for future expansion and reduces the amount of Maine-generated waste — well, Maine-generated waste — that can go there.”
A wide variety of materials are buried in Juniper Ridge, including ash from waste incinerators, food scraps and other trash that Mainers leave on roadsides, and sludge that communities remove from their sewage.
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So far, most of the material comes from another source: construction and demolition sites around New England. That broad category now accounts for about two-thirds of what’s buried in the state’s landfill each year — and it’s the center of concern for critics.
Some of that trash comes from within Maine. Casella Waste Systems, the contractor that operates Juniper Ridge, Vermont, typically buries it raw without removing recyclables.
According to data provided to the state Department of Environmental Protection, these deliveries in the state have doubled in the last decade and will increase to 2020 in 2020. exceeded 300,000 tons.
In 2022 month of January. truck prepares to leave ReSource Lewiston, a facility that is processed outside before being sent to the Juniper Ridge Landfill. The facility, formerly ReEnergy Lewiston, has not changed its sign.
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More controversially, Casella has consistently accepted large amounts of construction waste from other states, primarily Massachusetts but also New Hampshire. In some years, their combined weight was about 200,000 tons, about the weight of two aircraft carriers.
First, independent Maine truckers who have already delivered goods outside the state will stop at a transfer station to collect trash. They then transport that material back to Maine and deliver it to a facility in Lewiston called ReSource.
ReSource Lewiston, which until 2013 was a subsidiary of Casella and still works closely with the landfill operator, removing small amounts of wood, metal, drywall or other materials to sell for recycling.
He sorts the remaining debris into two different piles: large bulky items like carpets and mattresses, and smaller materials that he has ground into a mulching mixture. He then loads that sorted waste into trucks for another 120 miles up Interstate 95 and pays Casella to bury it at Juniper Ridge.
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A mulching mixture is poured over raw garbage every day to reduce odors and prevent wind or animal carry-over. And bulky objects are mixed with incoming sewage sludge to form a stable layer in the landfill.
Although Maine law allows Juniper Ridge to accept only waste “generated” in the state, a long-standing loophole has allowed ReSource to treat trash handled as Maine-generated.
According to data provided to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, under this new definition, ReSource sent an average of about 190,000 tons of waste (about 90% of it from other states) to Juniper Ridge each year. .
Massachusetts has banned many types of construction debris from its landfills for 15 years as part of a broader effort to reduce waste and conserve its limited landfill space.
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But in reality, the Bay State has shifted more of that burden to other states, including Maine. Over the past decade, the loophole has allowed out-of-state companies to send more than a million tons of construction waste to Juniper Ridge through Lewiston, according to the Maine DEP.
Meanwhile, those who live in the shadow of Juniper Ridge are outraged that their community has become a dumping ground for so much waste from outside Maine.
“Most of the imports come from Massachusetts, which has tightened its landfill regulations substantially over the years,” says Spencer. “Maine needs to follow suit or we’re just going to be full.”
When Spencer started building his home in Old West in the late 1970s, he became familiar with the unpleasantness of living next to a dump.
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He made a living logging the surrounding forest, but there’s one stretch of quaking aspen he hasn’t bothered to cut because it hides the rolling hills of debris that have risen outside his property since the state took over in 2004. bought Juniper Ridge.
Ed Spencer, a West Old Town resident whose home is less than two miles from Juniper Ridge, overlooks the landfill from one part of town.
Still, that barrier didn’t stop the occasional smell of rotting sewage or garbage from reaching his home. Several times he says, “It makes you feel like you can’t breathe.”
Members of the Penobscot Nation also spoke out against the imported waste being buried at Juniper Ridge, which is about four miles from their reservation on Indian Island. Last year on Earth Day, they helped organize a caravan to the landfill to protest imports.
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“There’s enough trash here that we have to take care of,” says Kathy Paul, a longtime tribal activist who was born and raised on Indian Island. “Why are they taking someone else’s?”
While most of the landfill’s waste is generated in the state, tribal members fear that the imported trash adds to the contamination in liquids or leachates that seep out of the landfill over time — a particularly common group of chemicals known as PFAS.
“The stuff that we’re seeing coming in, this oversized bulk waste, construction and demolition debris, we know has certain classes of chemicals that we’re concerned about, particularly PFAS,” says Dan Kusnierz, the tribe’s water resources program manager. “Things like carpets, sofas, upholstery, textiles, many of these types of materials have been treated with PFAS-containing compounds.
No studies have found a link between landfill leachate – or a subset of other states’ waste – and contamination of the surrounding environment.
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But during the state’s stepped-up PFAS monitoring over the past few years, it found PFAS in the Juniper Ridge leachate far above the state’s drinking water standard, a standard that landfill leachate is not required to meet.
The Maine Legislature is now considering funding a study of the best methods to remove PFAS contamination from leachate from state landfills. Also, the recently released federal bill includes $1.6 million. $100,000 to fund a PFAS removal system at the Anson Madison Sanitary District wastewater treatment facility in Somerset County.
Under its state license, Casella collects the leachate and sends it to a pulp mill on the other side of Old Town, where it is treated and discharged into the Penobscot River downstream of Indian Island. But state regulators have acknowledged that no wastewater facility in Maine has the technology to completely remove PFAS, which are linked to cancer and other health threats.
It refers to tribal members who have traditionally used the Penobscot River for fishing and other subsistence activities, as well as their cultural identity.
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Harmful contaminants, including dioxins, mercury and PCBs, have been found in fish in the river, prompting state advisories for people to avoid or limit their activities.
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