(Host) For the first time, a Canadian group has been granted status in a Vermont Act 250 proceeding. The group is concerned that plans to expand a landfill in the Northeast Kingdom may adversely affect residents north of the border.
VPR’s Steve Zind reports.
(Zind) The District 7 Environmental Commission is reviewing an application to expand the Casella Waste Systems landfill in Coventry. Casella wants to haul 370 tons of trash to the landfill annually. Now the commission has granted non-party status to the Memphremagog County Council. The council represents 17 Canadian municipalities near the lake.
The landfill is located in the watershed of Lake Memphremagog. The lake’s southernmost tip is in Vermont, but the rest is in Canada. Since the lake’s outflow is also in Canada and about 200,000 Canadians get their drinking water from the lake, there’s concern about potential contamination. Non-party status gives the Memphremagog County Council the opportunity to offer evidence and testimony, and to cross-examine witnesses during Act 250 hearings.
Roger Nicolet is chairman of the Memphremagog Council. Nicolet says the group may go further and request full party status, which would give the council the ability to appeal an environmental commission ruling. Nicolet says first the council wants to see the results of a study it’s commissioned to assess the potential affects of the landfill expansion.
(Nicolet) “We don’t want to interfere lightly into a process that’s going on in another country, although we are close neighbors. We want to be sure that we are on solid ground.”
(Zind) There’s nothing in the Environmental Board rules that prohibits a group from out of the country to participate in Act 250 hearings – as long as they can show they are directly affected. Charles Gallagher is coordinator of the District 7 Environmental Commission.
(Gallagher) “Even though this is the first time that we’ve had a request from a non-U.S. entity to participate I think it’s pretty clear that they have a right to make that petition.”
(Zind) The proposed expansion of the Coventry landfill has attracted more attention in Canada than it has in Vermont. No Vermonters are currently seeking party status in the Act 250 hearings.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.