Correcting the Record

To the Editor:

In response to Adam Finkel’s letter from July 17, I would like to correct the assertion that anyone from Casella Waste Systems, Inc. would have represented themselves in the manner that Mr. Finkel described.

First, I believe I am the “local engineer” that was referenced by Mr. Finkel and who was representing Casella at the July 2 barbecue in Dalton that Mr. Finkel referenced. I have spent the entirety of my career, more than 25 years, devoted to the permitting, compliance and engineering of landfills.

I understand that debates such as the one happening in Dalton right now are filled with emotion. Many people have fears of the unknown. A large part of my job is to provide information and to provide it in a way that is without hyperbole and helps to eliminate conjecture. I take great pride in the work that I do and the information I deliver.

I have never replied to a question in such a flippant manner as Mr. Finkel asserts. “Why do you think we are here?” is not an answer I gave, or would ever give, when dealing with the public around a situation so complex.

The fact is that Casella chose Dalton as a possible site for a landfill based on a long list of evaluative criteria. Nowhere on the list is there any mention of zoning, ordinance, or any other local town governance structure.

Mr. Finkel goes on to assert that I told him “Casella also prefers pristine sites for (our) new landfills.” The fact is that this is the first new landfill site I have ever been involved with, and the first possible new –or greenfield—landfill site in the northeast in more than three decades. Mr. Finkel’s assertion is damaging because it gives the reader the sense that siting a landfill is a common occurrence. That Casella is just siting landfills throughout the northeast on whims. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, a greenfield site has many benefits. One of which is that we have a clean slate to Engineer and we don’t have to deal with old technology or years of contamination to clean up as we successfully did in Bethlehem. The current land use is industrial at the Dalton site and while it is ideally suited for this kind of operation, I would not categorize it as “pristine.”

Finally, the point Mr. Finkel makes about groundwater is again entirely outside of the kind of technology and care with which we approach these sites. We do not assume. We let science and facts guide our decision making and monitoring systems to protect the environment. We over Engineer our liner systems, beyond State requirements, to further ensure compliance and safety.

At the heart of our business is the desire to provide needed health and safety infrastructure to the communities in which we operate. Landfills are important as long as we continue to produce the volumes of waste that we currently are. Hopefully, someday we produce less—I know that our company spends a lot of time and resources on educating people on how to do just that.

Mr. Finkel, if you were referring to me, you have misled the readers about our conversation. If you were not referring to me, my apologies for inferring that you were. I think it is important for the public to know that no one representing Casella acted in the manner you described.

I also invite anyone interested in learning more to contact me directly or take a tour of the NCES site in Bethlehem.

John Gay

Region Engineer & Dalton Project Manager

Casella Waste Systems, Inc.

Hyde Park, Vermont

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