State Would Deny Saugus Ash Landfill Expansion

DEP cites location of facility in area of critical environmental concern

Landfill in Saugus, MA

November 17, 2021 (BOSTON, MA) – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would not allow the expansion of the Wheelabrator Saugus Ash Landfill as it’s currently proposed according to a letter from Commissioner Martin Suuberg. The letter cited the location of the landfill and adjacent solid waste incinerator in the middle of an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (a fragile salt marsh) in detailing DEP’s opposition to the current expansion plan. Members of the Alliance for Health and Environment (AHE) are hopeful that this means the landfill will close soon.

“State officials would be absolutely right to deny the expansion of this already massive, polluting landfill,” said Kirstie Pecci, director of Conservation Law Foundation’s Zero Waste Project. “No new landfills or expansions of landfills are allowed in an Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The Saugus Ash Landfill is in the middle of one of these areas, so it is not allowed to expand vertically. End of story.”

“This is the most dangerous landfill in Massachusetts, and it’s been sickening nearby communities and destroying Rumney Marsh for decades,” said Cindy Luppi, New England Director of Clean Water Action. “The only long-term solution is to close this facility for good, and we’ll be continuing the fight to make sure that happens.”

“I am so excited for this important step forward for Environmental Justice in the Town of Saugus and City of Revere,” said State Representative Jessica Giannino. “We have been waiting my whole life for this progress.”

“Environmental Justice means nothing to the people of the North Shore so long as the Wheelabrator Saugus Ash Landfill continues operate in an ACEC,” said State Representative Jeff Turco.  “Commissioner Suuberg’s letter makes clear that the long overdue closure of the Saugus Ash Landfill is on the horizon.”

“SAVE (Saugus Action Volunteers for the Environment) is pleased with MassDEP Commissioner Suuberg’s letter,” said Stephanie Shalkoski, SAVE Co-president. “DEP clearly shares our long-standing concern that any plans to increase the height of the ash landfill will endanger the Rumney Marsh ACEC.”

“As a resident who understands the detrimental impact to the environment and human health that this facility and its ash landfill has had on local communities, this letter gives me hope that we will soon be having closure plan discussions,” said Revere resident Loretta LaCentra.

In the past, DEP allowed Wheelabrator to expand capacity at the facility by burying an additional 560,000 tons of ash in the stormwater valleys of the landfill. CLF and AHE joined the community in challenging that decision, at which time DEP stated that it would not allow a vertical or footprint expansion of the landfill.

Experts are available for further comment.