Toxics Action Center
Toxics Action Center

Environmental groups to sue Casella Waste Systems over releasing toxic pollution from leaking landfill into Ammonoosuc River


BETHLEHEM, NH – Toxics Action Center and Conservation Law Foundation issued a formal notice to Casella Waste Systems, Inc. that the two organizations intend to file a lawsuit against Casella for illegal discharges of pollutants from the Bethlehem Landfill into the Ammonoosuc River.

The notice alleges that a drainage channel collects leachate and contaminated groundwater from the Landfill and discharges it into the River, in violation of the Clean Water Act. Pollutants discharged include iron, manganese, and 1,4-dioxane (a suspected carcinogen).  The notice also alleges that this discharge is causing or contributing to water quality violations in the Ammonoosuc River.

“This is not the first time we’ve seen a Casella landfill release contaminants into the environment, nor is it the first time Casella has failed to protect New England’s water resources,” said Woody Little of Toxics Action Center, “I am proud to stand with concerned residents who wish to protect public health and the environment. It is outrageous and unacceptable that Casella’s landfill is leaking into the Ammonoosuc River yet they are still trying to strongarm the Town into expanding the facility. Casella is not the good neighbor they claim to be.”

“The Bethlehem landfill is dumping dangerous pollutants into the Ammonoosuc River, one of New Hampshire’s treasured and iconic waterways,” said Tom Irwin, Director of Conservation Law Foundation New Hampshire. “Expanding this landfill is not only illegal but a menace to the health and wellbeing of North Country residents living in its shadows. It is time to stop expanding toxic landfills and start protecting communities by reducing waste at its source through recycling and other efforts.”

The Bethlehem Landfill is operated by Casella and its subsidiaries, New England Waste Services, Inc., and North Country Environmental Services, Inc. (the owner of the Landfill). Casella, one of the largest waste collection firms in the Northeast, is currently seeking authority to expand the size of the Landfill in Bethlehem through a Zoning Article and an Article to instruct the Select Board to negotiate with Casella. Both articles will be voted on on Tuesday, March 13th.  The Town rejected similar articles to allow expansion of the Landfill last year, but Casella would not accept the community’s decision.

Dean Knapton, a local business-owner and Toxics Action Center member, lives along the Ammonoosuc just six miles downstream of the landfill in Littleton, NH. “I’ve lived in this area for almost 40 years,” said Knapton. “I have a house 3 yards from the riverbank that I am going to put in a trust when I retire. It’s about time Casella cleaned up their mess, so my grandkids can enjoy the river like I have without putting their health in danger.” As a Littleton resident, Knapton cannot vote this Tuesday. “This landfill affects people downstream too. I hope this lawsuit will make the voices of people like me heard.”

Toxics Action Center member Kristina Zontini has been organizing with local citizens’ groups to stop any further landfill expansion, and is working to stop Casella at the ballot box this Tuesday. “For years, we’ve seen pictures of discolored sludge running into the river, and heard about high levels of pollutants. You don’t swim or fish down river from the landfill anymore,” said Zontini. “Not only has Casella been exploiting and dividing our community for decades, this ‘state of the art facility’ has also been threatening our health and natural resources.”

“Bethlehem’s greatest assets are its natural beauty, and rapidly growing outdoor recreation economy,” Zontini added. “That’s where our future is, not in a mountain of trash.”

Woody Little, Toxics Action Center 510-418-8785
Tom Irwin, Conservation Law Foundation, 603-573-9139
Kevin Budris, Esq., NELC 617-747-4304

Toxics Action Center is a non-profit organization that works side-by-side with communities throughout New England to prevent and clean up pollution at the local level.  For more information, visit Conservation Law Foundation is a non-profit organization that uses the law, science and the market to create solutions that preserve our natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy. For more information, visit The groups are represented by the Boston-based, non-profit National Environmental Law Center, which represents citizen groups across the country in actions to enforce the nation’s environmental laws; and attorney David Nicholas of Newton, Massachusetts.



4 thoughts on “Environmental groups to sue Casella Waste Systems over releasing toxic pollution from leaking landfill into Ammonoosuc River”

  1. Barbara Thompson says:

    thank you

  2. Lennie Fillius says:

    I thank you for supporting our efforts to keep this dump from becoming the mega dump of New England. We have little resources to fight the consistent expansion efforts which has gained a substantial foothold within our community. Your support is a tremendous boost to our efforts. Thank you for supporting the Ammo river and all of our neighbors living down river of the dump.

  3. Thank you! Our little town of 2, 300 has been sued, bullied, lied to, and pushed around since 1993, when Casella acquired the Bethlehem landfill. Since then we’ve taxed ourselves over and over to fight a David/Goliath battle with this large corporation capitalized on the NASDAQ exchange. It’s never been a remotely fair fight in terms of resources, but we’ve hung on. Your assistance will help even the odds and help the majority of responsible residents make a case to our expansion-loving neighbors that pollution of the Ammonoosuc River is not an acceptable outcome for anybody. No matter how much shiny stuff they dangle in front of our eyes.

  4. Tom says:

    Ridicules to have this trash on our river

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