A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 NOVEMBER 1995
Location Operator Tons- On-Line Miles from Pollution
per-day Haverhill Controls Haverhill Ogden Martin 1,650 1989 0 miles ESP/dry scrubber Lawrence Ogden Martin 700 1985 2.85 miles ESP North Andover Wheelabrator 1,500 1985 2.5 miles ESP
The vote: 10,000 residents voted NO; 2,000 voted YES.
In March 1995, the city of Haverhill entered into a 20-year Host Community Agreement with Ogden Martin. This agreement allowed Ogden Martin to expand its incinerator in Haverhill with a $200 million, 1,050 tons-per-day addition, and to burn up to 250 tons-per-day of sewer sludge. In return, the city of Haverhill (population 53,000) would receive an estimated $20 million in host fees over 20 years; have reduced costs in trash disposal; and a secure site for disposing of 33 tons-a-day of sewer sludge. The agreement stated that Haverhill agrees that it will not place any restrictions on the importation of solid waste and sludge to the Haverhill facility and that Haverhill will provide the cooperation of the Municipality to obtain the necessary state and local approvals and permits to permit the disposal by way of incineration of sludge and landfilling the incinerated sludge at Ogdens landfill in Haverhill. The major advantage for Ogden Martin in this agreement was the commitment made by the city to help in fast-tracking the proposals. Opposition was spawned immediately the community was made aware of the agreement which was negotiated behind closed doors. There was intense opposition to the sludge proposal from the time it was announced, and in mid-September, citizen opposition resulted in a petition that garnered 3,300 signatures against both proposals.
Environmental groups from Boston and throughout the Merrimack Valley became involved in opposing Ogdens schemes. Ogden Martin responded by cancelling the sludge-burning proposal in mid-September due to economic conditions and the bad will that was created by the proposal, but Haverhill residents continued to challenge the incinerator-expansion scheme. On November 7, in a non-binding referendum, Haverhill residents voted overwhelmingly against both of Ogdens proposals. The negotiations for the Host Community Agreement began soon after Haverhills mayor, James Rurak, took office in January 1994. He appointed the negotiating team which operated behind closed doors. One of the members of that team was Dr. Gene P. Grillo who Rurak appointed to the Haverhill Board of Health in early 1995. When the agreement was announced to the public, Grillo stated, We are convinced all of the environmental concerns have been addressed. I think we are protecting the health and welfare of the citizens of Haverhill. (March 29, 1995, Haverhill Gazette, Incinerator Agreement, front page.) The Board of Health will play a pivotal role in any incinerator-expansion proposal for Haverhill. On July 13, 1995, the Haverhill Environmental League expressed its deep concern about the sitting of Dr. Gene Grillo on the Board of Health during any hearings that deal with Ogden Haverhill Associates and their proposal to incinerate sludge. We specifically question how the present City administration can defend and ensure to the citizens, that Dr. Grillo can deliberate with any type of impartiality when he participated in the negotiations that resulted in the contract. To this day it has not been revealed to the citizens of Haverhill how many meetings occurred and what part Dr. Grillo played in them. Perhaps full disclosures of attendance at these year long secret meetings and their minutes would address some of these questions. (Press release of the Haverhill Environmental League). Daniel Tidone, an environmental consultant, was also a member of the negotiating team.
The Background to the Agreement. Since the mid-1980s, Ogden Martin has wanted to shut down its problem-plagued Lawrence RDF incinerator. This incinerator is on its last-legs. Ogden attempted to replace this incinerator by proposing to build another, but were rejected by at least three communities (Gardner, Littleton and Salisbury). Unable to get to first base, Ogden ended up negotiating the current contract with Haverhills Mayor Rurak and his hand-picked negotiating team. In 1988, Waste Not published three newsletters on Ogden Martins bullying role in the building of the Haverhill incinerator. We would like to make two clarifications to those reports: (1) Haverhills trash is sent to the Lawrence incinerator, with the ash dumped at Ogdens landfill in Haverhill. Ogdens Haverhill incinerator takes waste from many communities in Massachusetts as well as from other states, including Rhode Island and New York. (2) We had stated that Ogden Martin owned the Lawrence incinerator. Apparently, Ogden Martin has a long-term lease on this incinerator from the original owner, Refuse Fuels, Inc., also known as Refuse Fuels Associates. (James Ricci is president.) Ogden also operates a shredding operation next to the incinerator in Haverhill, where a worker died in March 1995 (see WN # 350); and a fire broke out on July 16, 1995. The shredded RDF is sent to Ogdens incinerator in Lawrence.
The host community fee currently paid to Haverhill is $2.05 for each ton of trash that goes to Ogdens incinerator. That figure will rise to $2.15 per ton when the new agreement takes effect. It would have been raised to $2.30 a ton if the sludge burning was approved. The host fee is paid in lieu of taxes, fees, assessments or charges other than excise taxes, betterment of assessments, or property taxes. The city estimates that it will receive $20 million in payments and reduced handling fees for Haverhills own municipal waste during the life the of the 20-year contract. The host fee of $2.05 per ton of trash was struck in a prior arrangement with Refuse Fuels, the company that formerly operated the landfill in Haverhill. (Haverhill currently pays $18.43 per ton of waste that it sends to Ogdens incinerator in Lawrence. Under the new agreement, Ogden will let the city dump 15,000 tons of trash per year, or three-quarters of its total for free. Haverhill will then have to pay $55 a ton to dump. The city will still have to pay $635,000 a year to Laidlaw Waste Systems to transport the trash. Camp Dresser McKee are advisors to Haverhill on possible methane gas recovery from the landfill and are considering options to sell the landfill.
March 21, 1995. By a 5-3 vote, the Haverhill city council agreed to table the vote on the 20-year host agreement with Ogden Martin so councillors could have more time to read the 75-page agreement and get their questions answered...City councillor Gary S. Domoracki did not participate in the discussion or vote on the Ogden Martin agreement because, he said, a ruling from the state Ethics Commission barred him from doing so. Domorackis law firm, Sheehan, Schiavoni, Mooradan, Jutras and Pother has done legal work involving the trash plant... Haverhill Gazette, March 22, 1995, Trash pact postponed, front page.
March 28, 1995: Burning sludge at the Ward Hill waste-to-energy plant will not plague the city with an unbearable stench, said John Shortsleeve, senior vice president of Ogden Martin...Hazardous sludge will not be accepted at the plant, said Shortsleeve...Co-combusting the sludge along with regular trash will also serve to keep odors in check, said Shortsleeve...Air quality will be guaranteed by $50 million worth of pollution control equipment, said Shortsleeve...Shortsleeve reiterated the companys position that the odors that have bothered residents of the Bradley Brook neighborhood are caused by a shredder that will be replaced by a new mass burn facility. Gases from two landfills at the site have also contributed to the odor, said Shortsleeve. The company has been burning gases from the older landfill with a torch that has been burning on the site for the past several years. Ogden Martin will try to expand the process, sad Shortsleeve... Haverhill Gazette, March 28, 1995, Ogden vows no stench, by Paul Tennant, front page.
March 29, 1995. After hearing from several residents who opposed it, including former Mayor Theodore A. Pelosi Jr., the City Council voted 6-2 last night to approve a 20-year host agreement....Paula Drossos, of 70 Birch Ave., who has lived in the shadow of the Ogden Martin landfill for years and has smelled the stench from the plant as well gave the councillors and other city officials a glimpse of everyday life near an incinerator. Besides the stench, which Rurak and Ogden Martin say will be largely eliminated when the shredder goes, the fans at the plant make a lot of noise, said Drossos...Kenneth Cavallaro, of Camelot Systems, which recently moved from River Street to larger quarters in Ward Hill, said the stench does not exactly help the citys image with business people who visit his company. Sometimes it can be embarrassing, he said. Anthony Mugavero, of Dale Street, said the people of Haverhill were promised all kinds of financial benefits when Ogden Martin first arrived. My taxes went up twice, he said. Mugarevo also said he has heard there is a high rate of cancer among people who live near the incinerator. You cant tell me its not coming from there. I cant tell you it is, he said... Haverhill Gazette, March 29, 1995, City nods to Ogden, by Paul Tennant, front page
June 7, 1995: Haverhill residents used a legal challenge to stall a decision allowing Ogden Martin officials to burn sludge at the companys waste incinerator. The latest round of protest came last night at a special city board of health meeting where officials reviewed plans to expand the Ward Hill incinerator...In order to move ahead with the sludge burning proposal, the board of health would have to approve the site clarification. However the motive behind last nights meeting was questioned by Boston attorney Charles P. Lord, co-director and senior attorney for the Alternatives for Community and Environment, a non-profit legal service representing low-income communities. What Ogden Martin proposes is an expansion of the site and a modification of the use of the site which would allow the incineration of sludge. What is actually required here is new site assignment, which would allow for a process of public hearings, said Lord. Lord charged the special meeting was invalid because the board of health was not empowered to expand or modify the site assignment. Ogden Martin officials asked the meeting be postponed for three weeks.... June 7, 1995, Haverhill Gazette, Sludge incinerator draws pickets, by Todd Prussman, front pg.
Groups opposed: Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility; Lawrence Environmental Action (Denise Van Vooren); Alternatives for Community and Environment (Boston); Mass. Environmental Justice Network; Haverhill Environmental League. For more information contact at Brent Baselack at 508-374-6529 or Pat Kalashian at 508-373-0044.
Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, New York 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.