OLD TOWN, Maine — Several groups gathered for Earth Day in Old Town on Thursday to draw attention to the massive amounts of toxic out-of-state waste being dumped in a state landfill.
Community leaders from "Don’t Waste ME," University of Maine students, and members of the Penobscot Nation are demanding that the state stop allowing imported waste into Maine’s Juniper Ridge Landfill (JRL).
Organizers say a loophole has allowed the out-of-state trash to be brought in and dumped off at the state-owned facility, despite regulations that were supposed to prevent it.
The group says the practice has been getting worse since the state took over the landfill in 2004.
Ed Spencer, vice chairman of Don’t Waste ME, a coalition of Mainers who advocate for responsible waste policies, said, "When the state took ownership the promise was there that would be no out-of-state waste and no curbside waste put in there ever. That’s how it was sold to us. Those were lies."
"We are at a point right now where we really need the support of allies and neighbors and friends to heal our Mother Earth," said Maulian Dana, Ambassador of the Penobscot Nation Tribe.
After some speeches, the group formed the “Caravan for Mother Earth” to continue their protest up the road to the landfill.
David Madore, Deputy Commissioner for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection said in an email, the JRL "is licensed to accept waste generated within the State, including construction and demolition debris, oversized bulky waste, municipal solid waste bypass and ash from Maine incinerators, municipal solid waste bypass from the processing facility in Hampden, and numerous special wastes from Maine towns and businesses."
"Waste disposed of at JRL is required to be waste generated within the State. What constitutes waste generated within the State was most recently debated and decided during the 129th Legislative session, resulting in PL 2019 Chapter 619," Madore continued. "While we understand the concerns expressed by citizen groups such as the ones participating in the 'Caravan for Mother Earth,' waste disposed of at JRL currently meets the definition of waste generated within the State under both Maine law and the facility’s license."