New Hampshire Unlawfully Issuing Waste Permits

CLF sues state Department of Environmental Services

landfill with garbage trucks

February 11, 2021 (CONCORD, NH) – A developer has submitted plans for New Hampshire’s first new landfill in decades, and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) is unprepared to handle the application. DES has been ignoring a law that requires officials to engage in ongoing, statewide solid waste management planning, and to use that planning in deciding whether to grant permits for new and expanded landfills. Despite a mandate to update this plan every six years, DES has not done so since 2003.

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has sued DES for this failure and to stop it from issuing a permit for the proposed landfill in Dalton until it follows the law and releases a new plan.

“State officials are blatantly ignoring the law and communities are suffering as a result,” said CLF New Hampshire attorney Heidi Trimarco. “The state is legally required to have an updated solid waste plan before approving landfill permits, yet it has green-lighted several landfill expansions since the last plan was completed in 2003. Instead of committing to waste reduction and diversion efforts as part of a new solid waste plan, New Hampshire has become a dumping ground for out-of-state waste.” 

The proposed massive new landfill in Dalton would have an enormous impact on waste management in New Hampshire for decades to come.  As proposed, the landfill will be 180 acres, require the permanent filling of 17 acres of wetlands, and would have a disposal capacity for 23,000,000 cubic yards of waste. It would operate for at least 38 years. The developer plans to build the landfill dangerously close to Forest Lake and Forest Lake State Park.

A valid, updated waste management plan would advance New Hampshire’s goals and waste management hierarchy, which establishes landfilling as the least preferred method of managing waste. Alternatives to landfilling including source reduction, recycling, reuse, and composting, are needed to protect the environment and public health. Before DES can decide if New Hampshire needs a new landfill, it must first comply with the waste planning law and produce a valid, up-to-date solid waste management plan to guide its decision-making.

You can find the lawsuit here.

CLF experts are available for further comment.