ITEM FILE PHOTO
Wheelabrator Saugus is pictured in this file photo.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Conservation Law Foundation is taking Wheelabrator Saugus, Inc., to court for failure to monitor and track water quality in the area surrounding the company’s ash landfill.

In a letter dated Monday, May 22, staff attorney Heather Murray wrote on behalf of the foundation that it intends to file suit against Wheelabrator in federal court. Monitoring the water quality is required by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Murray wrote.

“The Saugus ash landfill sits at the heart of a thriving community, yet landfills of this type are infamous for releasing lead, mercury, and other cancer-causing chemicals in our air and water,” said CLF attorney Kirstie Pecci in a statement.

Wheelabrator’s approximately 140-acre site is located at the confluence of the Saugus River and Pines River and within the boundaries of the Rumney Marshes Area of Critical Environmental concern.

Peter Kendrigan, general manager of Wheelabrator Saugus, said the company complies with state and federal regulations.

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“The assertions by CLF are false, demonstrate a lack of understanding of the regulations, and appear to be designed only to interfere with Wheelabrator Technologies’ application with the state Department of Environmental Protection to continue operating the monofill,” he said in a statement.

The CLF notice states that because the landfill was originally used for solid waste, soil acidification has likely already taken place and could continue to take place, increasing the risk for leaching. It adds that the landfill is the only unlined landfill in the state and that its coastal location makes it “extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts such as sea level rise and damaging storm surge.”

“Despite this significant hazard, the landfill has operated for decades without monitoring its impact or creating an adequate barrier from the families and businesses that call Saugus home. It’s time for Wheelabrator to answer for its years of neglect and finally commit to water quality monitoring as the law requires and the community demands.”

“Wheelabrator is an environmental services company that processes post-recycled solid waste from eastern Massachusetts municipalities and businesses into clean, renewable energy,” said Kendrigan in a statement. “Protecting public health and the environment is our highest priority and we operate in a manner that is protective of the environment. We are in full compliance with stringent state and federal air, water, and solid waste regulation, and our operating permits have been maintained and renewed without excepting in Saugus.”

A copy of CLF’s notice is available at www.clf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2017-05-22-FINAL-Wheelabrator-Saugus-Notice-Letter.pdf


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte