the ills of Casella and Juniper Ridge Landfill

what we're trying to protect

society for roots and trees is appalled that the sacred place where we live is becoming an ever expanding toxic chemical dump.  We like to live and breathe and coexist in health and happiness.  We don’t like it when heartless aliens come in and kill all the magic for money.

Maine’s a gloriously beautiful place, what is worth destroying it?  When it is destroyed, we are all destroyed.  Poisoning our land and water and air poisons us.

Right up river from the home of the Penobscot Nation – Indian Island – the state of Maine has allowed an out of state corporation, Casella Waste, to operate Juniper Ridge Landfill (JRL).  Casella Waste has been continuously making shady deals that severely undermine the environment and people who live around the landfill.

Originally, JRL was only supposed to be used for Old Town mill waste, then it was only to be used for state of Maine waste, now Casella is trucking in biomedical waste from Massachusetts, Vermont, Connectitcut and New Hampshire.  The blood and poison and drugs and disease and chemicals seep into our ground and spread through our river.  The toxic gasses flare up and choke our lungs.

For a complete synopsis of these happenings, and information on the danger of landfills in general, go here.

After decades of exploitive industries contaminating the Penobscot River with dioxins from Mill waste, damming, flooding and pulp waste from logging, Penobscot Native Americans have worked hard and unceasingly to clean up the river over the years, vastly improving the health of the Maine ecosystem.  The river is a fundamental part of Penobscot cultural traditions and survival, and home to many species, not just humans.

Native Americans in Maine and throughout the Americas have been treated unfairly and had genocide committed against them enough.  It’s unacceptable that this level of injustice is still going on right outside our doors.

In the midst of so many environmental affronts against our beloved place of residence, just lately, Casella is trying to get further control of Juniper Ridge:

If you can, find time to write.  Representatives can be looked up at

Here’s an example of the kind of letters we’ve been sending to our senators, governors, representatives and department of environmental protection agents:

Dear Senator Raye,

It has come to my attention that a resolve concerning Biddeford MERC and Juniper Ridge Landfill is being rushed through the motions without a chance for leadership and citizen input!

What’s the rush?! I hope state lawmakers are aware of the multitude of concerned citizens in towns surrounding Juniper Ridge Landfill (JRL) who will be OUTRAGED if Casella Waste is given more corporate control in Maine.  I am particularly concerned with the lack of transparency that surrounds JRL activities.

We don’t need Casella bringing more toxic waste into our precious environment.  Destroying and poisoning the land that we live on also destroys and poisons us.

It’s appalling how the state of Maine is giving Casella, an out of state company, so much power to do lasting harm to the Penobscot river, Penobscot Native Americans, and the citizens of Old Town, Orono, and Maine.

People who vote their lawmakers into office trust them to do the right thing for the well-being of the citizens of Maine – not for the pockets of corporations and industry.

PLEASE Senator Raye, do everything in your power to stop Casella Waste from getting complete control of Juniper Ridge Landfill, control which would expand that company’s power to destroy our environment and health.

It’s not right nor just what is being allowed to happen. Concerned citizens have a right to know what is going on around them and to participate in the democratic process.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

15 polluted water road
toxic mill town, maine 00100

Feel free to use that as your own template for writing letters to help.

Here are words from some other society for roots and trees members who wrote in to describe the dire straights we’re faced with:

“Juniper Ridge Landfill history has been riddled with sneaky, underhanded deals between the operators and the State of Maine.  Now it seems the state wants to give up its responsibility for this dump, leaving Casella to do as it pleases.  We already know about the underhanded politics that landed Casella the job of operator several years ago (under Baldacci’s administration), we already know that they are trucking in tons of waste from out-of-state, including biomedical waste!  We know that they were granted a partial expansion, despite citizen protests, we know that they have entered into a multi-million dollar deal with the university of maine to construct a methane pipeline, and the saga continues….

In short, the state of Maine (ancestral wabanakiland!) is under severe environmental attack right now!!  We need people to be aware, become involved, and help spread the word.”


Perhaps you have seen the terrible news for anyone who cares about our
community that there is a bill (LD 1911) before the legislature to
sell Juniper Ridge Landfill to Casella!
We do not know what the legislative procedure will be over the next
few days for this bill that was introduced very suddenly.
The bill is here
This resolve authorizes the State to take action to facilitate the
transfer of the Maine Energy Recovery Company facility to the City of
Biddeford and the closure of this facility. It also authorizes the
State to transfer the ownership and licenses
of the Juniper Ridge Landfill in the City of Old Town to Casella Waste
Systems, Inc. It specifies requirements that must be met before the
Maine Energy Recovery Company facility may be closed, one of which is
the transfer of the Juniper Ridge
Landfill to Casella Waste Systems, Inc.


“Writing letters to state representatives with an overall message for them to protect our environment and natural resources is helpful.

At this point in time, there are so many bills being introduced that sabotage our environment for corporate greed that it’s nearly impossible to keep up on them, and to respond to each bill individually.  That’s why I would recommend contacting lawmakers with an overall message that we need our resources left in tact for Maine people and not for corporate greed.

Right now we are faced with a super east-west highway construction that will cut through the heart of Maine, from East, along the Stud Mill Road, crossing the Penobscot River at Freese Island, to Dover, and on through to Cobure Gore.  The purported purpose of the highway is to support industry – moving tar sand oils from Quebec to the New Brunswick port.  Tar sand oils is particularly dirty business, and the method used to extract the oil sludge is wicked destructive, using thousands of gallons of fresh water and chemical cocktails to extract the dregs of oil.  The process, referred to as fracking, has proven incredibly destructive to many, many indigenous communities, particularly from cracking the rocks below the surface of the Earth, and causing methane gases to leach into well water.  The industrial highway will be a privately owned toll road.  Our state lawmakers recently passed legislation to approve the use of $300,000 of maine taxpayer monies to fund the feasibility study for these wealthy private investors! I think our money should be used to fix our existing roads, etc, not to fund wealthy investors who only intend to hold the state ransom (they said they would pay the money back if the entire project was deemed feasible, and if it was approved by the state).

There’s the Enbridge pipelline project, moving tar sands oil from Canada to Portland.  Apparently this Canadian oil giant Enbridge has a long history of spills including 840,000 gallons of sludge spilt into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

Then there’s the LPG tanker proposed for Searsport; the mountain top mining in Aroostook county (Thank you Irving oil for chopping the heads off our mountains!! – PS – now I won’t buy Irving oil), and of course all this landfill business – juniper ridge, norridgewock crossroads, and who knows what the heck is going to happen with Dolby (right up there at the headwaters of the Penobscot).

Scary, scary times”

A few months ago, we went to protest Casella Waste at a public meeting.  The power of the written word was most apparent when used towards justice.

I held that cardboard hand written sign to my chest as the money men talked lies and tried to silence us.  The people of Maine rallied for their land and water, “the river is my medicine,” a friend’s button said.  An old man was kicked out for speaking out to Casella with the outraged passion of a beat poet: “you’ve destroyed our land and our lives with your greed.”

Like the old quote says: “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money.”

Our blood doesn’t run on dollar bills, it likes clean air and water, and food grown from uncontaminated soil.


  1. Pingback: Updates in Maines Waste World « Stop out-of-state Trash from coming into Maine!
  2. Robert Quattrone, Jr. · July 19, 2012

    It bothers me greatly that Casella is trying to do this at Juniper Ridge. I am an employee at Maine Energy Recovery Company. My city recently approved the sale of MERC so that they can shut us down. 80 people will be without jobs unless Juniper Ridge is blocked to allow solid waste there.
    I feel that there is a win/win solution. Unfortunately, Biddeford City council is hell bent on shutting us down. There is another buyer waiting to buy us, but Casella’s greed(and Biddeford’s ignorance) is most important. I am truly sorry that this may happen to Old Town. Casella could easily send our trash to another waste-to-energy plant. They are starving for trash like MERC. But, because this is the best way to maximize profits for Casella, they would like the state to take a step backwards in Maine’s waste handling policy. Let me know what I can do to help you. I have facts and figures that may be pertinent to your fight.
    Robert Quattrone, Jr.


  3. Robert Quattrone, Jr. · July 19, 2012

    Another point that I wanted to make about Junioer Ridge, was that our city council said were the following:
    Councilor Bourque: ” all Biddeford has to worry about is getting the trash to Westbrook(Casella is building a transfer station there), from there I don’t care where they dump it.”. I was thoroughly disgusted by this. Mr. Bourque’s were his reply to my question on ethics of dumping in another cities backyard.
    Former mayor Joanne Twomey said at a previous meeting that ” we’ve had the trash long enough, it’s someone else’s turn”.
    Finally, our city manager John Bubier, said cavalierly that this is our landfill too.
    Not all citizens of Biddeford feel this way. Unfortunately, some do.


    • society for roots and trees · July 20, 2012

      Robert, thank you for your comments, and thank you for opposing Casella and Juniper Ridge. I’m sorry to hear that your job is in jeopardy due to corporate greed and short-sighted politicians who are destroying the health of Maine’s people, animals, and natural resources.

      I recommend getting in touch with the people at :
      They are very diligent in keeping up with this issue and working towards environmental justice in Maine.

      Also, you may be interested in this recent news on the subject:

      AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Board of Environmental Protection on Thursday denied an Old Town resident’s attempt to halt or stall the proposed expansion of Juniper Ridge Landfill.

      During the board’s meeting, Old Town resident Ed Spencer made his case in opposition to the Department of Environmental Protection’s public benefit determination from earlier this year that favored a 9.35 million cubic yard expansion of the state-owned landfill. Casella Waste Systems Inc., which operates Juniper Ridge, originally sought an expansion more than twice that size — 21.9 million cubic yards.

      “I’m disappointed, of course. I think it’s an unfortunate decision,” Spencer said after the board unanimously voted to deny his appeal. “I just don’t see the justification for this large of an expansion.”

      Spencer has said he agrees with many of the findings in the DEP’s public benefit determination but contends that the state doesn’t need that much increased capacity in the next 10 years.

      Spencer argued that a number of factors — including a depressed economy that could keep down the amount of construction and demolition debris going into the landfill, the potential for opening up capacity at the Crossroads landfill in Norridgewock and the Dolby landfill in East Millinocket, and the fact that the DEP denied a similar Juniper Ridge expansion request in 2010 — show that the state doesn’t need that much increased capacity at Juniper Ridge to suit the state’s needs for the next decade.

      Board members, including Elizabeth Ehrenfeld and M. Wing Goodale, expressed concerns when they learned during presentations by Spencer and Casella representatives that a significant portion of the waste going into the landfill originated out of state.

      Only in-state waste is allowed in Juniper Ridge Landfill, but state statute defines in-state waste as any waste that is “processed” at a Maine facility. That processing includes sorting and incineration of waste.

      The board ultimately decided that questions about state statutes and regulations were separate issues from the public benefit determination it was examining Thursday.

      Landfill opponents have called for an independent, third-party audit of what goes into Juniper Ridge and where it comes from, but Casella representatives contend that their books are open and show the company is following the rules and regulations that have been laid out in statutes and contracts.

      The board agreed in May to hear Spencer’s appeal. BEP Chairwoman Sue Lessard said at the time that Spencer had standing to appeal because he was an “aggrieved person,” largely because he lives less than two miles from the landfill. She agreed with his claims that his property and quality of life might be affected by odors, noise and traffic coming from Juniper Ridge.

      Lessard rejected similar appeals from two other landfill opponents, Charles Leithiser of Old Town and Sam Hunting of Orono, in large part because they live farther away from the landfill.

      Now that Spencer’s appeal has been rejected, Casella and the State Planning Office may file an expansion application to begin the licensing and permitting process.

      Tom Doyle, an attorney for Casella, told the board that Juniper Ridge will run out of space by 2017 or 2018 and the licensing and permitting process for an expansion is likely to take five or six years.

      “All the public benefit determination does is get an applicant to the starting line,” Doyle said.

      Juniper Ridge takes in more than 700,000 tons of solid waste per year, Doyle said. If the expansion had been delayed by the overturning of the DEP’s determination of public benefit, the state might have found itself in a “waste disposal crisis,” he argued.

      Doyle said Spencer’s arguments for why an expansion wasn’t needed relied on the assumption that a “perfect storm” of uncertain circumstances would occur, including the opening of other landfills to more waste — which would involve lengthy, difficult licensing and permitting processes similar to what Casella is about to start.

      He argued the determination of public benefit shouldn’t be trumped by “a bet.”

      Doyle called DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho’s finding of public benefit for an expansion “well reasoned, prudent, and entirely consistent with her statutory charge,” despite the fact that Casella got half the capacity it wanted.

      Juniper Ridge is likely to see even more waste in the near future after the Biddeford City Council voted 8-1 on Tuesday to close the Maine Energy Recovery Co. trash-to-energy incinerator by next year.

      Casella representatives have said they still have customers to serve and that waste that would have gone to MERC will now have to go to Juniper Ridge for disposal.

      MERC General Manager Ken Robbins said in April that his facility expects to process 260,000 tons of waste this year and that the majority of that trash originates outside of Maine.

      In another meeting in Augusta on Thursday, the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee was scheduled to consider whether to take action on a request for an investigation into Casella and its business dealings with the state.

      The request for an investigation has been up for discussion at four separate meetings, but the issue was tabled again because the committee was short on time on Thursday.

      best wishes,
      society for roots and trees


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