I was born and raised in Hartland and the tannery has always been a part of the scenery and life here in town. I suppose we put up with the smell and commotion because we felt it was worth it. However, we didn’t realize we gave up more than we bargained for.

Today, the tannery is barely holding on. It has gone through bankruptcy and in the process burdened the town with a hazardous waste dump and a huge tax burden.

Until 2016, the town only took its own waste. In 2016, the town received approval to dispose of “special wastes” on an ongoing basis (from other towns), including paper mill sludge, construction and demolition debris, auto-fluff and sludge.  Have you heard of sludge before? It is the sometimes solid, sometimes liquid material generated from wastewater treatment plants, and it contains pollutants, such as heavy metals, dioxins and other toxic chemicals, as well as pathogens like human germs, bacteria, viruses and parasites — and it reeks.

People who live in close proximity to the landfill have been exposed to horrendous odors and huge dust plumes. On many days, we can’t even be outside.

Chapter 400 of the Maine regulations requires that “fugitive dust and nuisance odors from the landfill be controlled.”  But yet, despite over 100 documented complaints since April 2018, they are still allowed to operate in violation of the law.

Since 1977, the state has granted variances, one of which was to be able to have the landfill located within 1,000 feet of a residence. Hartland is the only municipally owned sludge landfill in the state that has houses that close to it.


Wake up Hartland — we are putting our community at risk.  The landfill and its out-of-town sludge and waste are not worth the cost to our health and quality of life.


Debbie Cooper


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