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Not In My Backyard: Environmental Group Criticizes Landfill Expansion Proposal

A man stands above a landfill pit.
Jane Lindholm
VPR File
The Coventry landfill, pictured here in 2015, is the state's only operational landfill.

While Vermont is running out of room to throw away its trash, not everyone is happy with a proposal to expand the state's only operational landfill.

Earlier this month, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources granted initial approval to a 51-acre expansion of the Coventry landfill. The site currently occupies 71 acres.

The landfill — the only open one in the state — is expected to reach capacity in four or five years, according to the ANR. The proposed expansion would allow the landfill to remain operational for at least another 22 years, given current rates of waste disposal.

The landfill is run by Casella Waste Systems.

Casella spokesperson Joe Fusco called the expansion a normal step in the evolution of Vermont's waste management system.

"We need landfills as part of our resource management and waste management infrastructure," he said. "And this [landfill] is an important part of that infrastructure here in Vermont."

The Conservation Law Foundation, a New England-based environmental advocacy group, is criticizing the proposal for its potential environmental impact.

Kirstie Pecci, a senior fellow at the CLF, says investing in larger landfills is the wrong approach.

"When I hear that landfills and incinerators are necessary, honestly that's nonsense," Pecci said. "We use them because it's easy to back up a truck and dump it and because some large companies are making a lot of money doing that."

There will be a public hearing on the proposed expansion Thursday, June 21 at 7 p.m. in the Coventry Municipal Building.

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