By early-2017, eighty residential wells in Southbridge, MA, tested positive for lead, 1,4-dioxane, or carcinogenic chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Residents did not need to look far for the source of these contaminants: monitoring reports from Casella Waste Systems revealed that a landfill it operated in Southbridge had been releasing these toxins into groundwater for many years. The landfill contaminated more than drinking wells – it also discharged chemicals and metals into nearby wetlands and streams.

To protect drinking water and local habitat, NELC filed suit on behalf of Toxics Action Center and Environment Massachusetts, charging Casella, the landfill operator, and the Town of Southbridge, the landfill owner, with violating both the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act. After several years of litigation, the environmental groups agreed not to pursue their federal environmental law claims upon securing Defendants’ agreement to close the landfill, spend millions to install pipelines connecting residences with polluted wells to clean drinking water, and reach a monetary settlement to compensate individual plaintiffs harmed by contaminated groundwater.