In Response To John Gay

To the Editor:

John Gay (Casella Waste Systems, Inc.) wasted 600 words in this paper on Friday denying that he gave me some disturbing information about Casella’s plans for Dalton and its rationale for choosing a pristine site for a large and largely out-of-area trash dump. Indeed, he did not say any of those things to me, because I’ve never met him! How strange to read a letter from someone you don’t know, denying that he knows you.

But a DIFFERENT engineer working for Casella DID tell me exactly, verbatim, what I reported on in my July 17 letter, and I greatly resent being called a liar for reporting on a conversation that Mr. Gay had no part of, but that his company most assuredly did.

I see no reason to provide the name of the very cordial and thoughtful Casella engineer I did speak with, but he knows who he is, and knows that I am completely accurate in my reporting of his words.

The weirdest thing about Mr. Gay’s letter is that his denials are also shown to be false in publicly-available documents. He claims that “nowhere on [Casella’s] list” of criteria for picking a site is there “any mention of zoning.” But not only did his colleague volunteer to me that Dalton’s lack of zoning was “why we are here,” but Casella’s pre-meeting letter to the state Department of Environmental Services (May 30) describes “Community Land Use” in two paragraphs, with these exact words as the VERY FIRST sentence therein: “The Town of Dalton has no zoning.” Oops; I guess by “nowhere” he means “first.”

Similarly, Mr. Gay insists that Casella “does not assume,” but that they “let science and facts guide our decision making.” And yet, at the informational meeting I attended sponsored by Casella, their wall-sized map of the proposed landfill site said in large letters “groundwater flow is inferred” to move southwest away from nearby Forest Lake. My conversation with his colleague was about if and how Casella might eventually move from assuming the direction of flow to verifying it, and I came away unimpressed and unsatisfied.

But this is not the time or place for scientists like us to debate the fine points (and not-so-fine points) of hydrogeology and risk. This is the place for Mr. Gay to apologize for writing that “no one representing Casella acted in the manner you described.” I know what I heard, I know who I heard it from, and I know that I, for one, am not given to making stuff up.

If the Caledonian had contacted me by email or phone, I would have explained Mr. Gay’s confusion, and I would not now have to also be rebutting his other misinformation.

Adam Finkel

Dalton, N.H.

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