by Eileen Weber
If you live in or around Hartford, you’re probably aware that your garbage dump will be closed at the end of next month. So where is all that junk going to go? Franklin. A lovely scenic town nestled right by the Shetucket River and about half way between Hartford and Norwich.
According to the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA), an ash landfill is earmarked for a site just off Route 32 which runs through the center of town. Many of the residents are having a not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) reaction to it.
But there is a flip side: The potential $1.5 million revenue for the town would be a welcome sight in this economy. It would also provide a tax cut for the town residents.
In an interview with Connecticut’s National Public Radio in April, Jennifer Davis-Muller, a resident of Franklin, said she had a valid reason for her NIMBY point of view. “This is literally 2,000 feet from my back property,” she said. “I have two small children and I’m concerned about the safety for myself, my family, and the residents of Franklin.”
The ash that goes into the landfillis the remaining inorganic residue from burning municipal solid waste (MSW) in the trash-to-energy facilities the CRRA moderates across the state. It has the consistency of damp cement and is treated chemically. Because it is treated chemically, any water run-off that comes in contact with it becomes a concern.
The CT DEP requires landfills to be near waterways because of the run-off from snow melt and rain water. Kirk said that the state mandates landfills not only accommodate run-off but are also sealed to prevent the wildlife from foraging. He said that the trucks are also sealed so that there is no leakage between treatment facilities and landfills.
Davis-Muller refuted Kirk’s statement. She said that the ash does leak out of trucks and blows onto lawns, parks, and bodies of water. “This is hazardous waste,” she said. “If it wasn’t hazardous waste, we wouldn’t have to worry about the run-off being trucked off to treatment plants.”
Unfortunately, Connecticut is not alone in this where-do-I-put-my-garbage problem. In an article published on November 10th on the Popular Mechanics web site, six states were cited as having a less than five-year capacity for their landfills. Three of the states, including Connecticut, were in New England.
This is a staggering statistic when the rest of the country has about a 20-year disposal capacity. The Western and the Pacific states have the greatest capacity left. So what are we to do? Waste more fossil fuels and ship our junk out there? Not the best solution.
The Franklin landfill site still has another year of investigation to determine if plans will continue. If it is determined that this is to be the proper place, the construction will begin in 2010 and the facility would be open to dumping by 2011. A public commentary on the issue has been tentatively set for some time in January.