When the landfill is closed (no longer accepting waste), who is responsible for ensuring it does not pollute our air and water?
Who will manage the ongoing maintenance operations of the landfill once the facility is no longer receiving waste? Will the millions of gallons of leachate be managed carefully? Will the slopes of the landfill erode with the extreme weather, causing a great deal of leachate to “break out” and run down the sides and into the ground?
There is a dawning awareness among landfill owner-operators, including Casella NEWSVT, that liability for environmental damage and harm to the public health belongs to them. The costs to safely manage landfill leachate and gas emissions, even decades after the landfill is closed, will be a huge burden to the landfill owner/operator. The annual report from the Casella Corporation raises doubt that they have obtained enough insurance coverage, much less set aside sufficient funding, to deal with an adverse event that could potentially cause harm to the health of the public and/or the environment. “Toxic PFAS Waste That Lasts ‘Forever’ Poses Financial, Logistical Challenges for Landfills.” Crunden, E.A., Wastedive, 19 Oct. 2020
From Casella Waste System, Inc. 2019 Annual Report:
“Our insurance coverage and self-insurance reserves may be inadequate to cover all significant risk exposures.
We carry a range of insurance policies intended to protect our assets and operations, including general liability insurance, property damage and environmental risk insurance. While we endeavor to purchase insurance coverage appropriate to our risk assessment, we are unable to predict with certainty the frequency, nature or magnitude of claims for direct or consequential damages, and as a result our insurance program may not fully cover us for losses we may incur. In addition, as a result of a number of catastrophic weather and other events in the United States, insurance companies have incurred substantial losses and accordingly in many cases they have substantially reduced the nature and amount of insurance coverage available to the market, have broadened exclusions, and/or have substantially increased the cost of such coverage. It is likely that the tight insurance market will continue into the foreseeable future. A partially or completely uninsured claim against us (including liabilities associated with cleanup or remediation at our facilities), if successful and of sufficient magnitude, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any future difficulty in obtaining insurance could also impair our ability to secure future contracts, which may be conditioned upon the availability of adequate insurance coverage. In addition, claims associated with risks we have retained under our self-insurance programs may exceed our recorded reserves which could negatively impact future earnings.”
(Casella Waste Systems, Inc. (2019). 2019 Annual Report.
Retrieved from https://ir.casella.com/static-files/e5136baa-8223-418a-95f9-f350929a8efe)
DUMP will continue to raise public awareness to ensure safe post closure management practices. The owner/operators of the Coventry NEWSVT landfill must not be allowed to shirk their fiscal responsibility for the toxic threat posed by the landfill now or in the future. They, who have made millions from the landfill, must be held to account to protect Vermont’s natural resources and the people and wildlife that depend on them.
We are not alone in this concern. Read more.
Landfill Liability and the Future of Recycling: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure , Seldman, Neil , (Commentary), Waste360, 30 Apr 2020.