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Army Corps of Engineers to host public meeting on Dalton landfill permit

The area in Dalton, NH, that is a proposed site for a landfill. NHPR file photo 2019 / Annie Ropeik.
Annie Ropeik
/
NHPR
The area in Dalton, NH, that is a proposed site for a landfill. NHPR file photo 2019 / Annie Ropeik.

This story was originally produced by the New Hampshire Bulletin, an independent local newsroom that allows NHPR and other outlets to republish its reporting.

Residents will have a chance on Wednesday to ask questions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is weighing a permit application to build a landfill half a mile from Forest Lake in the small North Country town of Dalton.

The corps has authority over waters of the United States, including wetlands, giving it powers of approval over the project proposed by Vermont-based Casella Waste Systems. Casella, which already operates a landfill in Bethlehem, has also submitted a permit application to the state Department of Environmental Services.

The landfill has divided the small town and faced heavy opposition from some residents. Ahead of the public meeting – scheduled in the Dalton Municipal Building from 5 to 7 p.m. – some local residents are planning to rally against the dump.

The public meeting will include information on the corps’ review process, a description of the project, and a question-and-answer session. Afterward, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., there will be a roundtable discussion on environmental justice concerns.

The corps is accepting public comments on the permit until July 3.

If Casella’s plan is approved, the company would build a 70-acre landfill with a capacity of 10.75 million cubic yards of waste over an 18-year lifespan, according to the permit application. It would be double-lined, as required by the Department of Environmental Services, and Casella has proposed an additional geosynthetic clay liner.

If approved by the corps and DES, the construction of the landfill and related infrastructure, such as an expanded access road, would run from around 2025 to 2027, with operations beginning around 2027 or 2028, according to the permit.

Developing the site would result in half an acre of temporary wetland impact and around 11.5 acres of permanent wetland impact, according to a letter in the permit application from John Gay, an engineer with Casella.

In his letter, Gay said the site was chosen based on a “multi-state siting analysis,” but residents and environmentalists have expressed fears about its proximity to the lake and the impact it might have on the surrounding nature and communities.

The Dalton project has been a flashpoint for other conflicts over solid-waste issues in the state. This legislative session, the Senate killed bills that would have pumped the brakes on new landfill development and slowed the import of out-of-state trash, currently dumped in New Hampshire at a rate of about 900,000 tons a year.

The project has also been ever-present in the dialogue on proposed landfill regulations in the state, which critics, including Dalton-area advocates, have said the solid-waste industry played an outsized role in shaping.

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