As community leaders, organizers, and environmental advocates, we were part of the strong bipartisan push to pass LD 1639 in the last legislative session. Our skepticism of Casella’s latest claims that it can no longer accept sludge at Juniper Ridge Landfill has only deepened after Casella’s presentation to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee last week.

LD 1639 was a critical bill that closed a loophole which Casella was using to dispose of hundreds of thousands of tons of out-of-state waste at the state-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town. During our work to pass LD 1639, Casella repeatedly claimed that all this out-of-state waste, most of which was construction and demolition debris and oversized bulky waste from Massachusetts, was necessary because the company relies on the material to stabilize and bulk sludge before it can be landfilled.

Let’s be clear. Casella has never explained why out-of-state waste is the only material it can use to stabilize sludge. Other landfill operators around the country utilize numerous other materials for sludge stabilization. This includes using contaminated soil, municipal solid waste, sawdust and wood chips. What’s more, some operators have invested in technology to dewater and dry sludge before it is landfilled, which reduces the need for stabilizing agents.

Casella is also claiming that another bill, L.D. 1911 — which prohibited the land application of sludge or compost derived from sludge — has created more sludge than it can handle. Again, it is hard to take this claim seriously.

Casella reported no increase in sludge disposal at Juniper Ridge Landfill since L.D. 1911 became law in 2022. Casella’s own data undermines its attempt to scapegoat a law that has helped protect Mainers from serious health consequences of spreading PFAS-contaminated sludge on farm lands. With the Environmental Protection Agency’s historic proposal to regulate six PFAS in drinking water nationally, now more than ever we must continue to advance new legislation and preserve existing legislation that protects Mainers from such contamination.

Casella’s recent sudden decision to stop landfilling sludge at Juniper Ridge is a blatant attempt to undo vital legislation and is a classic bullying tactic. Casella’s way of doing business was challenged when Mainers stood up to the company and demanded that our state-owned landfill solely be used for waste that is actually generated in Maine. Now the company wants to see critical environmental laws overturned and is stoking fear to get its way.


The problem is that Casella’s bullying tactics can have significant and severe consequences. Shipping our sludge to other communities isn’t the right answer. Neither is disposing of it in our waterways. Both these options pose serious environmental, health and justice concerns.

It is outrageous that Casella’s recent actions thrust managers of wastewater treatment facilities into situations where they were suddenly being overburdened by sludge. Plant managers warned of an impending public health crisis. Casella used this manufactured crisis as fodder to push importing out-of-state waste again rather than utilize other widely existing solutions for landfilling sludge.

Instead of trying to undo important legislation, Casella should be working with the Department of Environmental Protection to find a solution such as using Maine-generated waste to stabilize the sludge or investing in drying and dewatering equipment.

In the long term, we also must start making polluters pay for the waste they are creating, to help fund solutions. Over the last few years, Maine has shown tremendous leadership when it comes to waste management.

We can’t move backward. Instead, we must continue to move forward and build upon our success.

Jackie Elliott is a member of Don’t Waste ME. Dana Colihan is co-executive director of Slingshot. Peter Blair is the policy director at Just Zero​​. Nora Bosworth is a staff attorney for the Zero Waste Project of the Conservation Law Foundation.

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