January 13, 2022 (BETHLEHEM, NH) – Community Action Works (formerly Toxics Action Center) and Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) have settled their federal Clean Water Act lawsuit against Casella Waste Systems, Inc., and North Country Environmental Services, Inc., for the discharge of pollutants from the companies’ Bethlehem Landfill into the Ammonoosuc River.
“We are extremely pleased to achieve a settlement that protects water quality in the Ammonoosuc River and holds Casella accountable for the harmful environmental impacts of one of its landfills,” said Hayley Jones, the New Hampshire & Vermont State Director for Community Action Works. “This settlement represents a step in the right direction, showing the crucial role that community enforcement of environmental laws plays in protecting our health and environment.”
“By getting Casella to remove a decade’s worth of contaminated sediments from a polluted channel flowing into the Ammonoosuc, this settlement directly addresses a legacy of landfill pollution,” explained Tom Irwin, Vice President and Director of CLF New Hampshire. “The problems addressed in this case are yet another reason why New Hampshire needs to focus on reducing waste rather than burying it in landfills.”
The suit, originally filed in May 2018 in U.S. District Court in Concord, alleged that a drainage channel owned by the defendants collects leachate and contaminated groundwater from the Landfill and discharges it into the river, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. These discharges regularly contain elevated levels of iron and manganese, and have in the past been found to contain a variety of other landfill-related pollutants, including 1,4-dioxane (a suspected carcinogen).
The parties’ settlement agreement was signed and entered by U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro on January 11.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Casella and NCES have two years to apply for all necessary permits to perform removal of contaminated sediments and site restoration work at the large seep and 370-foot-long drainage channel located between the Landfill and the Ammonoosuc River, and then have one year to complete the cleanup project.
In addition, as a condition of the settlement Casella and NCES are required to make a payment of $50,000 to fund “projects designed to promote restoration, preservation, protection, and/or enhancement of water quality in the Ammonoosuc River watershed.” Conservation Law Foundation and Community Action Works have determined that the non-profit Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust is the local conservation organization best suited to receive and responsibly use these settlement funds for their required purpose.
Community Action Works is a non-profit organization that works side by side with everyday people to confront those who are polluting and harming the health of our communities. We partner with the people who are most impacted by environmental problems, training them with the know-how anyone would need to make change in their own backyard. For more information, visit www.communityactionworks.org.
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 www.clf.org.
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 attorneys David Nicholas of Newton, Massachusetts, and Meaghan Jepsen of Ransmeier & Spellman P.C. in Concord.