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WIN offer faces early opposition

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Subcommittee to hear public comment on WIN community host agreement at Aug. 17 meeting

  The Board of Health’s Landfill Subcommittee seeks public comment on the proposed Community Host Agreement that WIN Waste Innovations presented at Saugus Town Hall last week. WIN would pay the Town of Saugus up to $15 million in exchange for adding 25 additional years to the life of the ash landfill adjacent to its trash-to-energy plant on Route 107.

  Several town officials and state legislators have already expressed their opposition to the proposal.

  The subcommittee’s next meeting has been set for 7 pm. Aug. 17 in the second-floor auditorium at Town Hall. Cogliano said the subcommittee decided to switch from the Aug. 10 meeting because three members wouldn’t be able to attend. Town residents and others who wish to submit questions or comments for the Aug. 17 meeting can email them to Selectman Corinne Riley at criley@Saugus-ma.gov.

  “The proposal from Wheelabrator/WIN to add 25 more years of ash disposal should be immediately rejected. WIN’s proposal, which includes a financial gift for Saugus, can only be viewed as a Saugus ‘Trojan Horse’ that is both hollow and deceptive,” Saugus Precinct 10 Town Meeting Member Peter Manoogian said this week.

  “This proposal would burden Saugus with nearly 3 million more tons of incinerator ash that contains toxic heavy metals such as Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and the highly carcinogenic compound known as dioxin. WIN’s claim that such ash is non-toxic is based on 1995 EPA industry advocated ‘guidance’ (EPA530-R-95-036) that allowed for a laboratory sampling approach that would result in the very claim made by WIN that such ash is ‘non-toxic.’ This guidance was written because in 1989 the US Supreme Court had previously determined that under the more reliable testing process incinerator ash would, under law, be classified as ‘toxic,’” Manoogian said. “I urge the members of this sub committee to not drag this Trojan Horse agreement into the gates of Saugus. No amount of money is worth this hollow gift that will have a lasting impact on Saugus.”

  WIN Waste Innovation’s proposed Host Community Agreement, if approved by the town and the state, would also require WIN Waste Innovations to:

  • Reduce NOX and other emissions below current permit limits in place at time of agreement that are protective of public health and environment.
  • Conduct optimization testing to determine levels of additional NOx Reductions.
  • Fund the installation of one stand-alone ambient NOX monitoring station in Saugus.
  • Request the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to update its 2016 health study of Saugus residents as it relates to the plant’s operations and the landfill.
  • Provide $26,000 per year to fund an independent third-party consultant to inspect the waste-to-energy facility and monofill.

  Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Debra Panetta raised questions about whether the WIN proposal would comply with state and local environmental regulations. “The landfill was originally supposed to close in 1996 with a grassy seed. It’s been 26 years since the original closure date, and WIN Innovations is requesting an additional 25 years. That would translate to approximately 2.5 million tons of additional ash in their unlined landfill,” Panetta said.

  “According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), no new landfills or expansions of landfills are allowed in an Area of Critical Environmental Concern. In a letter written by Martin Suuberg, Commissioner of the DEP, to Representative Jeffrey Turco, dated 11/16/21, he states ‘While an applicant is free to propose a site assignment modification, and MassDEP will review information submitted, based upon the information presently before MassDEP, the facility fails to meet the necessary site suitability criteria to allow for expansion within the ACEC and therefore would not receive a positive site suitability determination,’” she said. “Without a positive site suitability determination from MassDEP, a proposal to amend the facility’s site assignment to allow for vertical expansion would not advance to the Saugus Board of Health for consideration.”

  State Rep. Jessica Giannino (D-Revere), whose legislative district includes Precincts 3 and 10 in Saugus, issued the following statement: “Twenty years after this site should have closed operations, Wheelabrator is still putting profits over people. The idea that our community could allow this or any corporation to pay for the ability to pollute is absurd. I under no circumstances support ANY expansion of the unlined ash landfill that sits in the center of an area of critical environmental concern, the beautiful Rumney Marsh.

  “Saugus and Revere voters can’t be silenced with money. The damage to the environment and the health of neighbors will quickly surpass any monetary benefit posed by this expansion if it hasn’t already. I’m opposed to this or any scheme that risks the health of our neighbors or neighborhoods.”

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