Toxics Action Center
Toxics Action Center

Alliance for Health and Environment Emphatically Supports Conservation Law Foundation and Saugus Board of Health Appeal of MassDEP Wheelabrator Saugus Decision

For Immediate Release: May 11, 2018

SAUGUS – The Alliance for Health and Environment announces its full support of the Conservation Law Foundation and the Town of Saugus’ Board of Health decision to appeal the recent MassDEP decision to approve a permit for Wheelabrator Saugus to expand its ash landfill. Under the permit, Wheelabrator Saugus would be able to uncap 39 acres in two drainage valleys and fill them with over 500,000 tons of incinerator ash over the next five to ten years.

“The Wheelabrator landfill is the most dangerous in Massachusetts, and it is putting the health of nearby residents at risk,” said Kirstie Pecci, director of the Zero Waste Project and a Senior Fellow at CLF. “The local site assignment process ensures that the people who are directly affected by this expansion are heard. For that reason, state law grants the Saugus Board of Health ultimate authority over waste facilities in the town. Until the board determines whether the landfill is a potential danger to public health and safety as well as the environment, MassDEP legally cannot allow this project to move forward.”

“I am extremely pleased with Conservation Law Foundation’s and the Saugus Board of Health’s decision to appeal the permit approved by the MassDEP,” said State Representative RoseLee Vincent. “I thank both CLF and the Board of Health for hearing the cries of people who live in the shadow of Wheelabrator Saugus’ facility. For over twenty years, the DEP has allowed this company to use a consent order to circumvent the process of obtaining a site assignment whenever it wishes to increase capacity of their unlined landfill. The time is long overdue for Wheelabrator to be held accountable for their actions, and if the MassDEP cannot live up to its core mission of ‘ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes…and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources,’ I hope the courts will step in to reverse this irresponsible decision.”

“The Saugus River Watershed Council is elated that Conservation Law Foundation and the Saugus Board of Health will be moving forward with the appeals process to halt uncapping and expansion at the Wheelabrator Saugus ash landfill that was unfairly permitted by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s decision” said Saugus River Watershed Council Board Member Jackie Mercurio. “DEP’s decision would allow an unlined landfill full of contaminated ash to continue to put our watershed at risk. It is imperative that we start planning for rising seas and storm surge to protect our coastal infrastructure. It is our obligation to protect the Rumney Marshes Area of Critical Environmental Concern and the people living in Saugus, Lynn and Revere. Not only should the landfill be closed and capped, but we need to take steps today to secure the site and prevent ash with arsenic, lead, cadmium and other pollutants from damaging public health and out waterways during future coastal storms.

“The DEP’s decision to allow the ash landfill to expand puts Saugus, Lynn, and Revere residents’ health at risk,” said Sofia Owen, Attorney and Eastern Massachusetts Organizer for Toxics Action Center. “It’s long past time for the state to invest in zero waste solutions that would not only protect the environment, but provide a living wage for local workers. An appeal of the decision is the only option.”

“With my hats on as a neighbor in Winthrop and the regional director of an organization committed to healthy communities, I applaud this action by the Conservation Law Foundation and the Town of Saugus,” said Cindy Luppi, New England Director for Clean Water Action. “Allowing the expansion of the oldest and most poorly sited incinerator/ash landfill in the Commonwealth to expand is a clear violation of environmental justice and a slap in the face to residents who live in the area.”

“The Saugus Board of Health asked for a site assignment, which is their right and which went ignored. With such a large expansion of the facility, the Board of Health is trying to protect the people of Saugus, which is their job,” said Debra Panetta, Chair of the Saugus Board of Selectmen. “In addition, the people of Saugus and Revere asked for an environmental report, where Wheelabrator spent significant money not to comply with compiling this report. This money would have been better spent alleviating the health and safety concerns of our community. I applaud CLF and the Town of Saugus for putting people’s well-being first.”

“Our extreme gratitude goes to Heather Miller and Kirstie Pecci from the Conservation Law Foundation , who not only listened and believed , but took up the battle when others simply were content to let the status quo continue unchecked,” Ann Devlin, President of Saugus Action Volunteers for the Environment. “SAVE is very proud to be a member of the Alliance for Health and Environment and wishes to thank all the members who are working so hard to address an ash landfill that never should have been placed on a wetland and should have been closed and capped twenty years ago.”

“The Conservation Law Foundation’s and the Saugus Board of Health’s decision to appeal the permit approved by the MassDEP is a great step in the right direction,” said Revere City Council President Jessica Giannino. “I thank both CLF and the Board of Health for listening to the concerns of residents and representatives from Revere and Saugus.”

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Alliance for Health and Environment Media Contacts:
Representative RoseLee Vincent
Kirstie Pecci, Attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation
Cindy Luppi, Clean Water Action

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