NELC’s lawsuit against Casella Waste Systems seeks to protect New Hampshire’s Ammonoosuc River.

CONCORD, N.H.—On Sept. 2, 2020, over the strenuous opposition of defendant Casella Waste Systems, United States District Court Judge Paul J. Barbadoro granted the motion of NELC attorneys to add a second count to their Clean Water Act (CWA) suit seeking to protect New Hampshire’s Ammonoosuc River from the continuing discharge of landfill pollutants.

The suit, filed in 2018 on behalf of Toxics Action Center and the Conservation Law Foundation, initially alleged that the Casella solid waste landfill in Bethlehem, N.H., is discharging pollutants to the river via a surface channel that the company maintains as a waste drainage system. However, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April that pollutant discharges that pass through groundwater to reach surface waters can be subject to the permitting requirements of the CWA, NELC attorneys asked to add such a claim to the Bethlehem lawsuit. In their successful motion to amend, they noted that Casella’s own engineering consultants concluded that there has been a “preferential” groundwater pathway carrying wastes from the landfill site to the river for several decades.

This sets the stage for a decision on the status of landfill pollution under the CWA, a vital issue for communities throughout the country.