Residents gather on the Riverwalk covered bridge in Bethlehem, N.H., in support of NELC’s Clean Water Act notice to Casella Waste Systems.

BETHLEHEM, N.H.—On March 8, NELC attorneys mailed a notice to Casella Waste Systems and its subsidiary , North Country Environmental Services, alleging that the companies are regularly violating the federal Clean Water Act at their solid waste landfill on the banks of New Hampshire’s Ammonoosuc River. The notice, sent on behalf of Toxics Action Center and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), alleges that the companies currently employ a drainage channel to collect pollutants from the landfill and discharge them into the river, but have never obtained a Clean Water Act permit authorizing these discharges.

Casella is one of the largest waste collection and landfilling companies in the Northeast.

NELC is currently litigating a separate case against Casella for pollutant discharges from a landfill in Southbridge, Mass. “This is not the first time we’ve seen a Casella landfill release contaminants into the environment, nor is it the first time Casella has failed to protect New England’s water resources,” said Woody Little of Toxics Action Center. “I am proud to stand with concerned residents who wish to protect public health and the environment.”

The landfill’s discharge to the Ammonoosuc River includes leachate (water that has passed through landfill waste and contains soluble and suspended waste materials), contaminated groundwater, iron, manganese and 1,4-dioxane (a suspected carcinogen often found in and around landfill sites).

Residents who swim and fish in the river have long feared the impacts from these pollutants. “For years, we’ve seen pictures of discolored sludge running into the river, and heard about high levels of pollutants,” said Toxics Action member Kristina Zontini of Bethlehem. “We don’t swim or fish downriver from the landfill anymore.”

Under the Clean Water Act, citizen plaintiffs may sue violators 60 days after providing formal notice to the violators and to state and federal environmental agencies. If the companies do not put a permanent end to unlawful pollutant discharges to the Ammonoosuc by the end of the 60-day period, NELC attorneys will file suit in U.S District Court in Concord.