Public hearing to be held Wednesday on Turnkey landfill expansion

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 09-05-2023 4:40 PM

In response to concerns from residents and state officials about the proposed expansion of the Turnkey Landfill in Rochester, the state Department of Environmental Services will hold a public hearing to discuss the plan’s potential impacts on both public health and the environment.

The public hearing on Wednesday in Concord will focus on the cumulative impacts of the proposed landfill expansion, particularly the air emissions from landfill operations. This hearing will also accept public comments on an air permit that pertains to the landfill.

It will be held at Department of Environmental Services offices at 29 Hazen Drive from noon to 3 p.m. The public can also view the meeting online.

The expansive site in Rochester, which is operated by a private subsidiary of Waste Management of New Hampshire, Inc., has proposed a plan to increase its disposal capacity and extend the lifespan of its 218 acre active landfill by adding another 60 acres. Three landfills exist at the site, but two are inactive and capped.

Landfill gas from all three landfills is collected to power engines and turbines through combustion. A portion of this gas is transported to a treatment plant at the University of New Hampshire.

“I think the public deserves to have some input into whether the landfill air emissions are a benefit to the state or not,” said State Rep. Tony Caplan, a Henniker Democrat. “The state has legal requirements. I understand that. But the very least they can do is offer some public hearing.”

The proposed landfill expansion could bring in between 1,400,000 and 1,550,000 tons of waste annually from the Seacoast and out of state.

Nelia Sargent, a resident of Claremont who has been actively engaged in opposing the establishment of an incinerator in her town, said the process of air permitting has always been problematic.

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“Unfortunately, many of our public agencies have been basically corrupted and are serving industry interests, not public health and safety. That’s too often the case,” said Sargent, who is among those that requested a hearing on the expansion. “Some of them are doing very good work but too often, agency directives are controlled by industry, not by public health and safety as the primary guide.”

The Department of Environmental Services said a comprehensive examination of landfill emissions and their impact on air quality is unnecessary.

“This is an immaterial issue for this permitting action as there are currently no regulatory requirements to address cumulative impacts,” department officials wrote.

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