WESTBROOK – The life of the landfill and bulky waste facility at Westbrook will be extended until Jul. 31 and not December as previously stated by officials from the Department of Environmental Protection, DEP.
First Selectman John Raffa said at a recent Board of Selectmen meeting that he negotiated with the DEP to get a seven month extension on the landfill but the site will continue to operate as a transfer station.
Raffa said a seven month extension was requested rather than six months to allow an extra thirty days in case the budget is not passed at the first referendum in June.
Raffa planned to sign the consent order with the DEP which he will hand deliver, adding “I want this to proceed right away,” Raffa said.
“They can still bring mattresses, furniture, cardboard, newspaper, bottles, bulky waste, and metal,” to the site, Raffa said, adding for the common resident, materials that used to be permitted will still be allowed to be collected at the site and stored temporarily, but would need to be hauled off-site.
For budgetary reasons, Raffa hopes to phase out the operation of the site as a landfill and admitted hauling away bulky waste will be more expensive for town than the current practice of burying it.
Residents may see fees for the facility increase as it transitions from a landfill to a transfer station and remediation costs are likely to result in both users and taxpayers footing the bill.
The town has taken the closure project, which would include encapsulation, slope changes, and construction of a transfer station to bid.
Three contractors have bid for the project but no winning bidder has yet been announced and costs have yet to be determined, Raffa said.
Raffa said he presented information about the consent order to the board as a courtesy even though his signature is the only one on the consent order.
At a September Board of Selectmen Meeting, Selectman Robert Mulvihill, Raffa’s former running mate, said Raffa never informed him or Selectman Tony Palermo about the potential closure of the landfill.
This led to Mulvihill asking Raffa to resign and Raffa refused.
Closure of the landfill comes because of an order from the DEP.
Robert Isner, Director of Waste Engineering and Enforcement from the DEP said, “the landfill has reached its capacity and needs to be closed.”
Isner said the closure also serves as enforcement action taken by the DEP due to ongoing violations occurring at the site as far back as 1989.
Violations cited by the DEP in the past include failing to have proper permits, failure to control access to the site, allowing illegal items at the landfill, failure to submit surface and groundwater reports to the DEP in a timely fashion, operating a recycling program without a permit, too large of a working face, lack of policing against liter, exposed areas of solid wastes,
outer slope grades were exceeded, and absence of fill limit markers.
Palermo said he does not believe the DEP will assess fines to the town for past violations but said the closure will be expensive for the town.
Additionally, at the Board of Selectmen meeting, a Nov. 1 town meeting was set for discussion of a proposed sewer-avoidance ordinance drafted by Water Pollution Control Authority Chair Marilyn Ozols.