South Hadley landfill makes ‘Dirty Dozen’ list
SOUTH HADLEY — The town’s landfill was named a top New England polluter Tuesday by a Connecticut-based environmental group.
Toxics Action Center of West Hartford, Conn., added the South Hadley site to its annual list of “Dirty Dozen” regional polluters, saying the landfill creates noise, dirt and odor pollution to the surrounding residential area and also poses a threat to groundwater due to potential leaking of decades-old industrial solvents dumped there.
The group has issued “Dirty Dozen” lists for 25 years, targeting what it calls “egregious polluters who have failed to take appropriate action to address their pollution problems.”
The South Hadley landfill is owned by the town and operated by Advanced Waste Disposal of Jacksonville, Fla., formerly Interstate Waste Services.
Officials from Advanced could not be reached for comment.
Advanced was also named a top Vermont polluter for its operation of the Moretown landfill.
Also on the list are General Electric in Pittsfield and Entergy Nuclear, which operates the Vermont Yankee power plant in Vernon, Vt. A complete list is available at www.toxicsaction.org.
Five local residents whose properties are located near the landfill attended Tuesday’s event, held across the street from the landfill on the lawn of Knight Machine and Tool Co., 11 Industrial Drive.
Standing in 35-degree weather with light snow falling, they listened as Toxics Action Center community organizer Jonathan Leibovic read a statement. Trash trucks rumbled in and out of the landfill and could be seen dumping loads of trash on what residents have dubbed “Mount Trashmore,” a vertical construction of earthen berms that towers above the treeline. The facility accepts 600 tons of trash daily from multiple locations.
“See the man-made mountain of crap,” South Hadley resident Bob Flaherty told the group, gesturing toward the landfill. “You have to see it to believe it. You have to smell it to believe it.”
Flaherty, a WHMP radio host and former Daily Hampshire Gazette reporter and columnist, lives at 9 Oak Ave., about a mile north of the landfill. He and other dissatisfied landfill neighbors nominated the dump for the Toxics Action Center recognition.
Mohinder Grewal of 8 Eagle Drive said her home, which is the closest to the landfill, is affected by vibrations from the tractor-trailers of trash that pass her home six days a week.
“I have a problem with the smell, the noise and the dust,” she said. “If I have company, it’s so embarrassing to me. I can’t have a cookout in the summer.”
“It’s horrible, smelly,” said Pam McDonald, who lives on New Ludlow Road in Chicopee.
“The traffic goes right past our house,” said Patricia Smalley of 580 New Ludlow Road, South Hadley, adding that trucks frequently line up early in the morning on her street, waiting for the landfill to open at 7 a.m., awakening neighbors with the sounds of screeching brakes.
The landfill “is sacrificing people’s health in order to make money,” she said.
Christine Archambault of 259 Old Lyman Road said landfill protesters are continuing their efforts to thwart plans to expand the trash operation into abutting land known as the Bynan Conservation Area.
Voters at a Nov. 15 special Town Meeting accepted newly surveyed acres in the Bynan parcel, a first step toward allowing the landfill to expand into a six-acre parcel.
“I don’t want anyone to be discouraged by the Town Meeting vote,” Archambault said, noting expansion is a lengthy process requiring approval from the South Hadley Board of Health and state Department of Environmental Protection.
“It’s not a done deal,” she said.
The group held a public protest at the intersection of Park and College streets Oct. 27 to bring attention to their complaints about the landfill.