Frequently Asked Question
No. There is a misconception that the Granite State Landfill will carry with it risks of contamination typically associated with unlined landfills. While unlined landfills are a thing of the distant past, if you are hearing this, we understand why you could be concerned. . The reason modern landfills cost millions of dollars to develop, build, operate, and close is because of the strict regulatory standards designed to prevent harm to human health and the environment. The truth is, modern landfills like Granite State have double liner systems and are subject to extensive review by regulatory authorities, accordingly, Granite State will be designed, permitted and constructed in compliance with laws and regulations focused on protecting against impacts to nearby waters, including the Ammonoosuc River, Forest Lake, Alder Brook, Connecticut River, as well as to surrounding wetlands and drinking water supplies.
The siting of the Granite State landfill meets or exceeds stringent regulatory siting requirements and setbacks designed to protect water and water supplies. As mentioned above, all waste will be deposited into an area that is double lined and backed up by a clay barrier (see below) to prevent contaminants from reaching soils and groundwater to protect the environment. The regulations require that monitoring wells be placed within a few hundred feet of the landfill so that, in the very unlikely event of a release from the landfill, any contamination will be detected and remedied long before it can reach any lakes, rivers, or other surface waters.
Another reason the site is suitable for the landfill is because surface waters and drinking water wells are so distant from the landfill footprint. While the federally mandated double-liner system and network of monitoring wells make a release nearly impossible and would promptly detect it if it were to happen, it provides yet another layer of reassurance that these waters cannot be impacted by the landfill. The lined area will be over half a mile from Forest Lake to the east (in fact, Granite State will be situated in a separate watershed from Forest Lake so groundwater from the location of the landfill cannot possibly reach the lake), over a mile from the nearest community drinking water supply and the Ammonoosuc River, and over 1,000 feet from the Alder Brook. The nearest water body to the north of Granite State is Cushman Brook, which is located two miles from the landfill footprint. Groundwater flow from the landfill site is east to west, towards Alder Brook – and not toward Forest Lake.
The double-liner system proposed by Granite State has been used successfully in New England for more than 30 years and will prevent contamination from reaching the environment. Here is how it will work:
Landfill leachate is created when precipitation or snowmelt comes in contact with trash. Granite State’s design will collect leachate from across the uppermost landfill liner on a 60 mil (0.060 inches minimum thickness) high density polyethylene geomembrane also known as the primary liner. The geomembrane is made from virgin plastic resin, manufactured to high quality control standards. Installation will be done by certified installers, under the supervision of a third-party construction quality control officer and ultimately approved by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. The primary liner serves as a primary barrier and overlays a complete back up system that includes a secondary geomembrane barrier which is also 60 mil. high density polyethylene. These two liners are backed up by third geosynthetic clay liner. This clay liner provides an additional level of protection against leakage. If hydrated by a leak, the clay material will expand and seal a leak. As landfill operations occur, and trash is added to the landfill, leachate will drain down through the waste to the primary lined surface and quickly drain by gravity to the sump of the landfill where it is removed by a continuous pumping system.
You may have heard that many years ago someone at EPA made the statement that eventually all liners will leak. More recent scientific studies have shown that landfill liners will not eventually leak, and there is no basis for this speculation. Laboratory testing has determined that the liners will last for hundreds of years. In fact, because a waterproof cap is permanently installed over completed landfill cells, the landfill will stop producing leachate well before the useful life of the landfill liners has been reached. This has been proven at the many municipal unlined landfills in the state that simply installed such caps when the state required them to shut down. By keeping precipitation out of these landfills they have dramatically reduced contamination of groundwater beneath them. In addition, our regulators require extensive monitoring and testing to ensure that the liner and leachate collection systems are working properly.
Our aim is to run our landfill in such a way that has no bearing on your daily life, as it is significantly screened from view and odors are effectively managed on site.
As part of the landfill design, we considered visibility from off-site properties, including the Ammonoosuc River, which is about 1.2 miles from the landfill, and determined that the view of the landfill will be largely blocked by topography and vegetation. With respect to Forest Lake, our preliminary viewshed analysis indicates that only a small portion of the upper elevation of the landfill may be visible from Forest Lake for a very short period over thirty years from now. Once capped and closed, this area will blend in with the surrounding landscape.
The landfill will carefully manage on-site odors using a multi-focused approach, which will include the application of daily cover, installation of temporary caps, operation of gas collection and control systems, and the application of odor neutralizing agents to the waste mass and waste hauling trucks. These agents actually break down the components in waste that cause odors. An employee will be tasked with regular patrols of the facility and neighboring areas to scout out odors, and we will work with waste generators to address odor at the source. In addition, we plan to reach out to our neighbors to communicate activities taking place at the site, and at the same time look for opportunities to address any concerns regarding transient odors.
Landfill operations will include focused litter control efforts. This will include limiting the active working face (i.e., where waste is actively being deposited) and applying daily cover or alternate daily cover to active fill areas. We will use portable and permanent fencing to contain loose litter, and landfill personnel will regularly patrol the landfill property, as well as the Douglas Drive entrance, to gather and dispose of any windblown litter. Refuse hauling trucks will be required to either have loads tarped or use closed containers/truck bodies to reduce the opportunity for windblown litter.
We expect that most truck traffic will access the site from Route 3 to Route 116. Waste haulers collecting trash from the greater Littleton area could arrive at the site from the east on Route 116 (Littleton).
It makes little sense for truckers to pass the exit for Route 3 with its 50 mph speed limit and travel further to Exit 40 to take a route with speed limits in the 30s. Like virtually all through trucking above the notch into Coos County, the trucks going to Granite State will likely use the most convenient route, and that is Route 3.
The Granite State operation is expected to average about 102 truck trips per day, of which less than half will be larger vehicles such as tractor-trailers hauling waste from transfer stations. The rest will consist of local haulers and contractors. Traffic lanes for waste haulers associated with the project are being carefully studied and altered (if necessary) to be certain they meet all New Hampshire Department of Transportation Highway Standards for safety.
Casella has proposed a Host Community Agreement (HCA) to the Dalton Selectboard providing for $2M in annual benefits to the Town, including property taxes on the landfill, beginning when landfill operations start. Benefits will be payable either directly to Town residents as a property tax reimbursement (if the Town’s lawyer determines that this is permissible under New Hampshire law) or to the Town in monthly installments. The Town will decide which form of payment to accept. If approved by the Town’s lawyer, property tax reimbursement payments will be made to full time residents of the Town, who have lived on the taxed property throughout the full tax year. Based on the Town’s current budget, its tax rate, and the number of residential properties, this reimbursement would result in full reimbursement of total property taxes paid to the Town.
The ability for us to offer these benefits is dependent on the revenue generated by landfill operations, accordingly, any restriction or reduction in disposal capacity due to New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) permitting would result in a reduction of benefits to the Town.
Another direct benefit to the Town is $50,000 each year for projects to enhance the Town’s aesthetics or promote the health, safety, and welfare of Town residents. The Town will also benefit from income associated with any renewable energy project that may be developed. We will also provide free curbside collection of municipal solid waste and comingled recyclables for all Town residents, non-industrial small businesses, and town-owned buildings (a total benefit of approximately $150,000 in year one). Finally, the Town will also benefit from free acceptance of up to 1,000 tons per year of municipal solid waste and construction and demolition debris from the Town transfer station (a benefit of approximately $16,000 in year one).
Our Host Community Agreement (HCA) proposal includes a mechanism to protect the value of eligible properties against reduction in market value caused by the presence of the landfill. In our experience, residents rarely look to use these protections, because the landfill does not reduce property values.
Granite State will accept municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, and non-hazardous special waste such as contaminated soils. “Contaminated soil” is a term used to describe soil that has been impacted with a contaminant. Some examples include; soils associated with a gasoline leak from a tank, a car accident, or a home heating oil release. Granite State will not accept any type of hazardous waste.
The majority of the trash received over the life of the proposed facility is expected to be New Hampshire trash. Casella serves over 150 New Hampshire municipalities and other NH-based customers.
Casella and its partners are now producing roughly 25 megawatts per hour of clean energy at five of the company’s landfills. This clean energy is enough to power approximately 25,000 homes and results in substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. When organic material (things like banana peels and paper cups) in solid waste decomposes in a landfill, it naturally generates a mixture of gases known as landfill gas. Landfill gas is a mixture of approximately equal parts methane and carbon dioxide, along with other trace gases such as water vapor. To capture this gas before it can escape to the air, we use a series of wells connected by piping to a powerful vacuum system to extract it so that the gas can be converted to electricity or another end use.
Yes. Local zoning that regulates landfill development is preempted by state law that does just that. What that means is that when a municipal ordinance conflicts with a state law, state law prevails— the local ordinance is preempted, and is unenforceable.
No; however, a host agreement could give the community the ability to negotiate certain community needs. Casella would be willing to collaborate with the Town on this point as the permitting process moves forward.
Due to setback requirements and other constraints at the site, if permitted the landfill will remain at its current proposed size of 137 acres.
A Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is a facility (typically a large enclosed building) that accepts and sorts recyclable materials. Once the recyclable materials are sorted by material type (cardboard, newspaper, plastic bottles, etc.) they are compressed, baled and then loaded onto a truck and taken to a destination where they are dedicated to another use. A MRF is a component planned for Casella’s comprehensive approach to waste and resource management that allows for local and statewide communities to share in significant economic and environmental benefits. A MRF would alleviate disposal capacity pressures, create jobs, help lift recycling rates, lower the costs of recycling, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the state.