Casella Waste Systems, Inc., which owns Vermont’s only landfill, plans to build three more cells. When they’re full, around 22 years from now, no one’s sure where the state’s waste will go.  “There are site limitations with future expansions at Coventry,” said Matt Chapman, director of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s waste management division. “You have the road on one side, the airport on the other, the Black River surrounding it and the wetland complex surrounding it on the other sides.”

The state “basically serves the function as a regulator in this capacity,” Chapman said. On a broad scale, the state does some planning — determining how to divert and lessen waste, for example — but the state does not have a long-term plan that outlines where waste will go when Coventry’s landfill is full or how it will be handled.

Casella could, theoretically, expand one more time. To do that, it would need to excavate an old, unlined section of the landfill — otherwise known as Nadeau’s dump — and move it to a new, lined area, which would be filled with old and new trash. The project would be called Phase V. Constructing that project would be incredibly challenging, Chapman said, partly because it is located next to a wetland.  “That means, when you start digging into it, you’re likely to have wetter, saturated soils and waste material in it,” he said. “So it’s gonna be smelly — there are going to be all sorts of challenges.”

That section would provide 3 million yards of capacity for new trash, said Jeremy Labbe, general manager at Casella, compared with the 13 million yards included in the new expansion.

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Author: Emma Cotton, VTDigger
Image: Riley Robinson, VT Diggers