The recent comments of Casella Waste Systems’ CEO displayed an ironic mastery of half-truths (“Managing municipal biosolids is a complex issue that requires collaboration,” March 23). The company failed its own headline advice when it abruptly halted acceptance of wastewater sludge. This $1 billion waste corporation operates the state-owned landfill in Maine. Its suddenly manufactured crisis stressed out municipal leaders.

Casella missed the mark by blaming the end of sludge spreading on Maine farmland. Almost all of that practice was halted four years ago, after 95% of sludge samples failed to meet limits on PFAS. These widely used “forever chemicals” wash down the drain, contaminating wastewater and treatment sludge.

Sludge spreading has resulted in dangerous levels of PFAS at more than 50 farms and 300 household wells, so far. More than 1,000 sludge-spreading sites are under investigation. The passage of L.D. 1911 last year simply ended the last vestige of sludge spreading. That law had zero impact on the current situation. Casella’s own monthly reports to the state show no increase in sludge disposal after that law became effective.

We agree with Casella that the state should help municipalities deploy available technologies to dewater sludge to reduce by half the volume requiring landfilling. But a rollback of state law to allow the company to import construction waste from Massachusetts should stay off the table. Other wastes are available to bulk up sludge disposal.

Accepting out-of-state waste remains an unfair burden on Maine people and our natural resources.

Michael Belliveau
president and executive director, Defend Our Health

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