Casella Waste Systems
Casella's acquisition program in upstate New York
Casella began a spending spree in 1999 according to Waste News, which that year put the company in the top ten spenders among waste companies. (7/12/1999) Between May, 1994, and May, 1999, the company acquired 136 companies. (PRNewswire, 5/17/99) In the eight-month period from May to the end of 1999 Casella acquired no less than 35 companies, including in December, 1999, KTI, Inc., with over 50 waste facilities in 21 states. (Waste News, 1/24/1999) The company has continued to acquire more trash haulers, transfer stations and landfills every year, with the result that everywhere Casella owns the full regional waste stream (pickup, transfer and disposal facilities) local governments are forced to pay higher prices. Apparently investors really go for this kind of conduct: as the new year began they snatched up $150 million in notes Casella will pay back in 2013 at 9.75%, allowing Casella to refinance its acquisition debt with $325 million of secured credit. (Waste Treatment Technology News, Feb. 2003)
Casella's acquisitions include the central and western New York landfills Chemung County Landfill and four transfer stations (Chemung Co.), Hakes C&D Landfill (Steuben Co.), Hyland Landfill (in Allegany County), IWS's Schultz C&D Landfill (Cheektowaga, Erie Co.), Portland C&D landfill (Chautauqua Co.); the transfer stations Natural Environmental (Buffalo), Blasdell Development Group (Erie Co.), Westfield Disposal (Chautauqua Co.), Southern Tier Recycling (Olean, NY); and the hauling companies Busy Bee Disposal (Allegany Co.), Maple City Refuse (Allegany & Catt. Co. & Pa.), SDS Disposal of Olean (Catt. Co.). In the Adirondacks, Casella has acquired the Clinton County Landfill; the Lewis County Landfill, transfer stations in Chazy, Ellenberg, Champlain, Redford, Dannemora, Churubusco, Lyon Mountain, Mooers, Peru and Altona; and hauling companies North Country Trucking and Northern Sanitation. In Central New York Casella has Superior Disposal Service (Syracuse area), Corning Community Disposal Service, Hiram Hollow Regeneration (Wilton), and Appleton Transfer Station and Wade's Transfer Station (both in Penn Yann).
In its 1999 10-K Report filed with the SEC, Casella said, "The Company believes that these acquisitions provide the Company with a new growth platform in western New York and [will] expand geographically the Company's existing operations in its Western Region." The chief engineer for the "Western Region," which includes all of New York State, is now Vincent Grandinetti, former IWS engineer. (Buffalo News 2/21/01)
Casella has also decided to get out of the Buffalo, NY market. According to Chartwell's, in 2007 Casella sold its Buffalo transfer station, hauling operations, and related equipment to Modern Landfill, Inc. for approximately $5.5 million. Perhaps it thinks by staying out of urban markets the company will lower its profile. Rural areas are generally where the landfills are, and where the most money can be made.
In 2002 Casella brought in about $115 million in revenue per quarter, placing it among the top ten waste companies in the U.S. (Solid Waste Report, 7/19/2002; Waste Age, 10/15/2002).
However, the company seems to face opposition everywhere it goes: its 2005 SEC report details a number of lawsuits brought against it by host towns and citizen groups complaining about slipshod dangerous company practices.
In home rule states like New York, towns have the authority to ban waste facilities, or to deny a local permit to any facility linked to an untrustworthy record of environmental compliance or business dealings. Casella's record should justify permit denal by any New York town.
April, 2003: Casella loses its argument against the Town of Bethlehem, New Hampshire, adopted everywhere by the waste industry, that state regulation of landfills preempts more stringent local regulations unless the regulations because local regulation is inconsistent with state law. This argument fails, according to a New Hampshire court, because more stringent local regulations cannot logically be "inconsistent" with a state law whose purpose is to protect the environment. (Littleton Courier, April 30, 2003) As a result, Casella's landfill is not allowed to expand and must close.
July, 2002: MLEA, Inc., as successor in interest to Engineered Gas Systems, LLP and Main Line Engineering Associates, sued Atlantic Recycled Rubber, Inc., Recovery Technologies Group, Inc., and Casella alleging that the defendants failed to pay for engineering plans and certain equipment with an alleged value of approximately $2.0 million.
June, 2002: Antitrust charges were settled with the Vermont Attorney General, who found garbage pickup contracts that Casella had entered into with commercial customers who use small containers, typically holding between 2 and 10 cubic yards of waste, were designed to keep customers from switching haulers. Casella's contracts required an initial term of 3 years, and an automatic renewal of another 3 years unless the customer cancelled more than 60 days from the end of the term. In the event that a customer cancelled the contract at any other time, the customer typically had to pay a penalty equal to six months of charges. The settlement requires Casella to modify its contracts to enhance competition in the solid waste hauling industry in Vermont. (Press Release, Vermont AG's Office, per John Brabant, email@example.com) (Waste Age, 9/1/2002)
The additional 13 municipalities that were parties to 1991 waste handling agreements filed a lawsuit against Maine Energy alleging breaches of the 1991 waste handling agreements for failure to pay the residual cancellation payment which they allege is due as a result of Casella's merger with KTI and Casella's failure to pay off loans when funds were allegedly available.
A former Casella employee brought suit against the company, alleging breach by the Company of the Noncompete Agreement, dated as of September 24, 2000, by and between Ms. Coletti and Casella. The agreement provided for certain payments in exchange for the employee's agreement not to compete with the Company. The lawsuit demands $0.3 million as compensation, attorneys' fees and punitive damages.
May, 2002: The City of Saco, Maine, files its own lawsuit against Casella's trash-to-energy incinerator Maine Energy Recovery Co. and the parent company, seeking recovery of a portion of the company's profits it claims are owed under contract. (Biddeford Journal Tribune, 3/19/02; Portland Press Herald, 5/4/02)
January, 2002: The City of Biddeford, Maine, files a lawsuit against Casella's trash-to-energy incinerator Maine Energy Recovery Co. and the parent company, seeking recovery of a portion of the company's profits it claims are owed under contract.
December, 2001: Casella is sued by a former employee to provide information to calculate the amount owed to the employee under a 1989 non-compete agreement related to Casella's purchase of the Bethlehem, New Hampshire landfill. Payment of lost tipping fees were provided under the 1989 agreement with the former employee. In March, 2002, Casella obtained a stay of the proceeding pending arbitration.
Nov., 2001: The City of Saco, Maine decides to sue Casella's trash-to-energy incinerator Maine Energy Recovery Co. for exceeding limits in its contract for truck traffic, the amount of trash received, and operating hours, and forproblems with odors. (Portland Press Herald, 11/6/01) City councillor Leslie Smith said, after two years of negotiating "he felt `cheated` by the company, saying that Maine Energy or its parent company could no longer be trusted." (Biddeford Saco Old Orchard Beach Courier, 11/8/01)
Daniel J. Quirk, Inc. and 14 citizens brought suit against the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection ("MADEP"), Quarry Hill Associates, Inc. and New England Waste Services of ME, Inc. d/b/a New England Organics to stop the use of MADEP- approved wastewater treatment sludge in place of naturally occurring topsoil as final landfill cover material.
April, 2000: Class action lawsuit alleges securities fraud against Casella and KTI, Inc., in connection with 1999 merger. (Waste News, 4/10/2000; Hoovers OnLine, 4/3/2000)
January, 2000: Earth Waste Systems of Pittsford, Vt., files a lawsuit against Casella for breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and intentional interference with contractual relations. Earth Waste, also of Rutland, VT, signed an asset purchase
agreement with Casella in 1996 that included a first-right exclusive scrap metal agreement, according to the lawsuit. As Casella expanded in the New England market, Earth Waste expected to gain a much bigger share of the scrap metal market. But Casella did not honor that part of the deal, according to the lawsuit. (Waste News, 1/31/2000)
January, 2000: 116 towns in Maine sue Casella alleging the company directed waste to its Orringto incinerator in violation of an agreement to seek lower fees (Waste News, 1/17/2000; Bangor Daily News, 12/14/99)
October, 1999: "The Maine Attorney General's Office has taken steps to ensure that the state's hauling and disposal market remains competitive after Casella Waste Systems Inc. and KTI Inc. merge." (Waste News, 10/18/1999)
October, 1999: New Hampshire high court accepts an appeal from the Town of Bethlehem seeking to sustain the town's zoning ordinance that restricts expansion of Casella's North Country Landfill; a decision is expected by mid-2000.
February, 1999: Lawsuit by Schuyler Falls, NY, citizens group for alleged SEQRA violations in plan to expand Clinton County landfill, purchased by Casella over two years earlier; click here for more on this.
July, 1998: Casella succeeds in getting the local county judge to issue a temporary injunction against the Town of Angelica's law limiting the size of Casella's Hyland Landfill. (Buffalo News, 7/9/1998)
July 1994: Casella settles with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources after trial begins on landfill violations for which the agency sought a $100,000 fine, "the highest allowable fine in Vermont's Environmental Court." (Boston Globe, 7/18/94).
1993: Vermont competitor Mithoefer Construction files suit against Casella Waste alleging, among other things, that after contracting with the Rutland County Solid Waste District to haul trash to the Wheelabrator incinerator in New Hampshire, Casella instead used the Whitehall landfill and Rutland City dump; that Casella was given contracts by the District even though other companies submitted lower bids; that contract terms on District RFPs were changed in Casella's favor after the budding; that Casella under-reported wastes to avoid state taxes at its landfill Newbury, VT. (Vermont Business Mag., June 1993)
The Whitehall, NY, Landfill:
1978: Casella begins disposing waste in a Whitehall, NY, landfill.
1979: Casella subsidiary Bola, Inc., purchases the Whitehall landfill.
1989: N.Y. Attorney General files charges against Bola, Casella Waste Systems, and John Casella alleging environmental violations at the Whitehall landfill, including off-site leachate discharges, and alleging disposal of Vermont waste at Whitehall is illegal, vioting a 1986 consent order not to do so.
1991: The New York suit is settled by consent order with Bola, dismissing Casella and his company, and providing for closure of the Whitehall landfill.
ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS
March, 2005: Massachusetts fined Hardwick Landfill owner Casella Waste Systems Inc. $18,000 and told the company daily fines up to $1,000 could ensue should Casella fail to correct problems at the Patrill Hollow Road waste site. (Worcester Telegram & Gazette News, March 11, 2005)
June, 2003: Casella's Trudeau Road Landfill in Bethlehem, New Hampshire (North Country Environmental Services), receives a $500 fine for dumping flags meant for ceremonial burial; compare below, COMMUNITY COMPLAINTS under "Sept. 2002." Meanwhile, investigations are underway relating to illegal asbestos dumping in the same landfill. Allegations point to the company's laxity in surveying dumped materials. (Littleton Courier, June 11, 2003)
Casella (Maine Enery Recovery Co.) threatens a lawsuit against the City of Biddeford, to challenge a tax assessment that is $54.5 million more than what the company believes it deserves. The city risks losing up to $1 million. (Biddeford Journal Tribune, 6/12/03).
August, 2002: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services notifies Casella's North County Environmental Services Landfill that the landfill is leaking excessive storm water into its liner system, making it impossible to detect leachate leaks, and directing the landfill to take remedial action. (Littleton Courier, 8/28/02)
April, 2002: The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fines Cassella Waste Management of Pa. Inc. $34,681for numerous violations at its waste transfer station in Delmar Township,Tioga County, and at a site in Ulysses Township, Potter County. The violations included failure to properly maintain plumbing, causing the loading and unloading bay drains to be clogged by solids; depositing leachate onto the gravel parking area behind the loading bay and to the side of the approach to the unloading pad; and failure to have grates on the unloading bay drains. (Pa. DEP Press Release, on file; see www.dep.state.pa.us)
May, 2001: Casella V.P. for Permits, Compliance and Engineering Larry Lackey submitted false information as part of his Solid Waste Operator Certification renewal application. According to New Hampshire environmental officials, to renew his license Lackey submitted a certificate of attendance or a required operator update training he never in fact attended. Instead he had another Casella employee pick up the certificate. Lackey was suspended for one year. (Littleton Courier, July 12, 2001)
December, 2000: New York's Department of Environmental Conservation ordered Casella and two subsidiaries to repay $90,000 to customers who had contracted for but not received recycling services. Recycled materials collected by waste haulers ended up in various landfills. (AP Wire, 12/4/2000)
The Bethlehem, New Hampshire landfill of Casella subsidiary North Country Environmental Services is found illegally dumping outside the permitted landfilling area, by the state's Department of Environmental Services. (Littleton NH Courier, 12/7/2000)
Groundwater test wells at Casella's old unlined landfill in Newbury, Vermont, show the landfill "is polluting the groundwater," according to the state's environmental agency. Earlier in the year the agency found that an orange "seep" emerging from the ground and running into the Wells River also originates from the old landfill, but Casella continues to challenge the agency's directive to cap the landfill, as it has done since 1994 (see below). At monitoring wells "water samples also showed elevated levels of volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethene, benzene and methyl tert-butyl ether, according to 1999 state records." (Rutland Herald, 12/3/2000)
November, 1999: Casella subsidiary FCR Plastics, a high density polyethylene recycler in Reidsville, N.C. since 1997, was fined an estimated $30,000 by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Quality for waste-water violations nearly every month for the previous two years, including exceeding toxicity and mercury levels. FCR has 27 plants that clean and repelletize mostly post-consumer plastics. (Plastics News, 11/15/1999)
October, 1999: Maine's Attorney General imposes three conditions on Casella to ensure the state's waste market remains competitive: (1) a limit of $75 for any penalty Casella may charge smaller contractors for early termination of a trash hauling contract; (2) fair prices must be offered to non-Casella haulers who must use Casella's incinerator in Orrington; (3) a limit on excessive prices Casella might charge its incinerator (and thus pass on to customers) to dispose ash in its Hampden landfill. (Waste News, 10/18/99)
May, 2000: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) signs a settlement agreement with Casella subsdiary North County Environmental Services Landfill (in Bethlehem, NH) that includes findings that Casella failed to use or complete hazardous waste manifests for transport of landfill leachate 55 times, failed to use a transporter for the leachate authorized to transport hazardous waste 11 times, and illegally discharged its landfill leachate (considered hazardous waste under federal rules) into a municipal sewage treatment plant six times. (Settlement Agreement on file)
May, 1999: New Hampshire DES notifies North County Environmental Services Landfill that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) reported in the landfill's monitoring well tests may be the result of liner leaks; despite the landfill's double-liner system, DES says "the ultimate source of the VOCs is the lined landfill." (DES letter on file)
July, 1998: District Environmental Commission of Manchester, VT, finding a Casella waste hauler's 80,000-pound trucks too large for the rural roads urges the towns of Sunderland and Manchester to propose impact fees to cover road damage caused by Casella trucks. (See Solid Waste Online, 7/13/98)
August, 1997: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services notifies Casella subsdiary North County Environmental Services Landfill that the landfill has violated reporting regulations by failing to report within the required 10-day period the presence of lead and chromium in three detention ponds, and the presence of volatile organic contaminants in landfill monitoring wells and the ponds; and that failure to submit an application to renew its permit, requiring a five-year review of water quality conditions, is "permit violation." (DES letter on file)
1994: Casella pays $68,500 in fines to settle claims against it by Vermont's Department of Environmental Conservation alleging, among other things, Casella operated a transfer station without a permit, failied to store sludge properly at the facility, and failed to close and cap its Newbury landfill, leaking toxic chemicals into the Wells River. Casella is ordered by the state agency to "take all actions necessary" to stop pollution from the landfill. (Rutland Herald, 7/20/94)
1993: Casella Waste Systems is fined $11,000 for noise and litter violations at its Rutland, VT, recycling facility. (Vermont Business Mag., June 1993)
New Hampshire DES serves Casella an administrative order citing violations exceeding the maximum limits of its solid waste landfill in Bethlehem, NH.
October, 2006: The City of Saco, Maine, after finding dealing with Casella was costing over $600,000 per year in legal fees and administrative time, decided on a 20-year with an alternative disposal facility, at an additional cost of $200,000 per year. City Councilor Ron Michaud said, “One of the most important things to me in any business relationship is a sense of trust. We’ve had 20 years of empty promises [with Casella subsidiary Main Energy].” KeepMEcurrent.com, Oct. 6, 2006; Courier (Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach), Oct. 4, 2006).
June, 2003: Casella proposes to build a dump in Rockingham along the Connecticut River
on property owned by a selectboard member. Public outrage followed what citizens
considered a secret meeting. The board requested the property owner not be present during
hearings, and received Casella with hostility and skepticism, unimpressed by promises of
new jobs and a higher town income. (Brattleboro Reformer, June 18, 2003).
May, 2003: A member of the Holliston Trails Committee reported possible contaminated fluid leaking at Casella's Atlantic North transfer station in Holliston. The DEP, town and state officials, and Atlantic representives (who are looking to expand) are investigating. The site is near an aquifer and the town's largest well. (MetroWest Daily News, May 24, 2003).
April, 2003: Casella has proposed operating an expansion of up to 656,000 tons of garbage to be disposed over five years at Farmington, New Hampshire's 12-acre landfill, bringing the town up to $6.5 million in revenue over the next five years and capping the existing portion. The town is balking at the deal because it would turn a local dump into a regional dump and because Casella's record has the Farmington Town Board worried. (Foster's Daily Democrat, 4/16/2003).
March, 2003: Casella employees at the Boston recycling center in Vermont staged a short
protest at the headquarters in Rutland, asking that Casella comply with the Boston liveable
wage ordinance of $10.54 per hour. Casella sought was denied a "hardship" exemption from
this Vermont law, and responded to the protest by asking Boston for another $1 million to permit the company to afford increased wages for their workers (Rutland Herald, 3/26/03).
Nov., 2002: Voters in Angelica, NY, say no to further expansion of the Hyland Landfill, which is seeking to increase its permitted capacity to 7.3 million tons.
Oct., 2002: Towns throughout the North Country region in Vermont, served by Casella's Bethlehem landfill NCES (see below, under June, 2002), were hit with a $2.56 per ton disposal fee increase, in retaliation for Bethlehem's tax re-valuation of the landfill. The re-evaluation hit NCES with an annual tax bill of $340,000, instead of just $7,122 in 2001. (Caledonian Record (St. Johnsbury VT), 10/24/2002)
September, 2002: Responding to community complaints, Casella, considers moving its waste incinerator out of Biddeford, Maine. (AP Newswires, 9/6/2002)
Doesn't Casella hire veterans? Between 7,000 and 12,000 flags commemorating the victims of Sept. 11 at a Rumford, Maine civic event were dumped unceremoninously in a Casella landfill. One of the organizers of the event in Rumford reported that the company responsible for preparing for the proper incineration of the flags failed to do so. The incineration site was next to a transfer station, which promised to take the flags, bale them and bury them at the landfill. Instead the flags some still folded, other flapping in the wind were dumped into Casella's Bethlehem, NH landfill along with food scraps and other trash from a 45-foot trailer from the transfer station. The landfill operator said at the time the truck was being unloaded there were too many machines in the area for an inspector to handle. The public works driver in whose truck the flags ended up expressed shock: "I was in the Marine Corps; I know what it is to deface a flag, . . . I just stood there and saluted." Rumford Police Department Lt. Wayne Gallant, a veteran, said, "My heart goes out to all those people who, in good faith, gave their flags, expecting that they'd be properly taken care of." Rumford's town manager, Robert Welch, said there was "no excuse for this. No one feels worse than I do. I'm a vet." (Foster's Daily Democrat, 9/25/2002; Mainetoday.com, 9/26/2002; Centralmaine.com, 10/2/2002; Caledonian Record (St. Johnsbury, VT), 10/2/2002)
July, 2002: A major connector roadway is required for a Casella transfer station in Manchester Village, VT. A judge approved the roadway despite agreeing with opponents that there are "many elegant homes" in the historic village, and hotels and restaurants do a brisk business on the weekends. (Rutland Herald, 7/11/02) A citizen group nevertheless vows to oppose the plan in the state Supreme Court. (AP Newswires, 7/22/2002)
A proposal to convert a tree and brush debris dump in North Carver, Mass. into a 600-ton-per-day solid-waste landfill is on hold after the town's health board decided the plans will need the approval of the state Department of Environmental Protection. (The [Quincey] Patriot Ledger, 7/19/2002)
June, 2002: In response to a Bethlehem, New Hampshire town assessment of Casella's landfill that raised its taxable value from $237,000 to $11,280,000, Casella has applied applied to the state Dept. of Environmental Services to avoid the property tax completely by virtue of being a pollution control facility. State regulations allow such an exemption for qualifying sites. An engineer for the town concludes that "The facility is an industrial facility that receives waste for profit, is a source of air and water pollution and is not a pollution abatement facility." (Littleton Courier, 6/19/02)
October, 2001: The Conservation Law Foundation writes to the N.H. Department of Environmental Services to complain that records it obtained show that Casella is dumping substantially more than the 2,700-ton weekly average of waste allowed under its permit at the company's Bethlehem landfill. (Letter on file)
March & April, 2001: Leachate spills occured while pumping to a tanker for transport to a wastewater treatment plant, at Casella's Bethlehem, NH landfill. The landfill failed to inform the community of the spills until late May. (Littleton Courier, July 12, 2001)
November, 2000: Residents stage a protest over installation of a landfill leachate incinerator at Casella's landfill in Bethlehem, NH. (Landfill leachate is ordinarily considered hazardous waste.) (Communication from Environmental Action for Northern New Hampshire)
September, 2000: Officials in the Maine cities of Biddeford and Saco claim Casella ripped them off when it took over the Biddeford incinerator from KTI, refusing to honor an agreement under which transfer of ownership requires payment of 20 percent of the sale price to the cities. (Waste News, 9/7/2000)
Hyland landfill in Angelica, NY received a modification to its permit, increasing the allowable annual tonnage by 50 percent, to 234,000 tons from 156,000 tons annually. (Solid Waste Online, 8/31/2000) The expansion prompts demands from the town for an agreement to subject further expansion to a community referendum.
December, 1999: Casella's takeover of a garbage incinerator in downtown Biddeford, Maine, brings waste from all over New England, and a campaign by local businessmen to stop "the stench, the noise, and the caravans of nasty, leaking garbage trucks." (Portland Press Herald, 12/21/99) Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion supports a "Stop the Odor" campaign.
Residents of Schuyler Falls, New York are upset about the proposed expansion of the Clinton County Landfill near there. They believe their town council is "caving in (to Casella Waste Systems Inc.) after they promised to uphold local ordinances." Property levels near the landfill have plummeted to zero. The residents believe "the town should be willing to spend some money to fight further degradation to the area." (Plattsburgh Press-Republican, 12/24/1999)
Representatives of 130 communities threaten to file a lawsuit to resolve alleged overpricing by Casella's Sawyer Environmental Recovery Facility landfill, which contracted to take the ash residue from the incinerator the communities use for waste management. The consortium of municipalities were not reassured by learning that Casella would be purchasing the incinerator too. (Bangor Daily News, 12/14/1999)
October, 1999: Accusing them of lying about whether they would expand and raise prices, and questioning their business practices, residents in Effingham, NH, rejected Casella officials' proposal to build a new transfer station in the town. (Conway Daily Sun, 10/1/1999)
February, 1999: Schuyler Falls citizens lose on a 3-2 vote by their town board in an attempt to enforce an agreement with Casella to stop expanding the Clinton County landfill. (see above) Residents who oppose a 40% increase of the landfill filed a lawsuit claiming county legislatures violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act by not reviewing the potential environmental impact of a volume increase. Several residents near the landfill are plaintiffs. The lawsuit states their concerns about noise, odors, truck traffic and visual degradation would increase with the additional trash.
November, 1998: City of Concord, NH, Waste Water Treatment Facility halts treatment of leachate from Casella's North Country Landfill because leachate exceeds standards for hazardous waste; Casella responds by seeking a waiver from the state's hazardous waste rules.
September, 1998: Casella teams up with two small-time dumpers who were turned away in an unsuccessful lawsuit to force the Town of Root to permit their landfill; now Casella eyes the financially ailing three-county solid waste authority with the power to disregard Root's will. (Click here for more on this)
July, 1998: The District Environmental Commission of Manchester, VT, gives Casella 90 days to find a better way to handle truck traffic at its Sunderland-Manchester Transfer Station. It pronounced the waste hauler's 80,000-pound trucks too large for the rural roads. The commission also encouraged both Sunderland and Manchester to propose impact fees to cover road damage caused by Casella trucks. In 2000, Casella was permitted to construct a new access road. (Solid Waste Online, 7/13/1998)
As Casella expands, taking over what were local public works services and transforming them into for-profit ventures taking waste from all points in an interstate market, its environmental violations can be expected to increase.
Casella's financial status drives its compliance practices
The company's aggressive acquisition program, begun in in 1994, today is funded by a 1999 sale of five million new stock issues. Casella therefore has everything on the line, because its obligations far exceed its ability to pay unless it's able to expand many of the roughly 150 waste facilities it has snatched up. These once-local businesses will be re-oriented to regional service areas and the interstate waste trade. The communities that host them will shoulder an increasingly unfair burden of the risks created by managing everyone else's garbage.
On January 31, 2001, the company announced it is selling off two of its "non-core assets," its waste remediation operations, and its plastic raw material businesses. (PRNewswire, 1/31/01) This should come as no surprise, since these operations are financial losers, as the events chronicled above indicate: Casella's landfills in New England produce toxic waste water that can't be readily processed by municipal waste water treatment plants, and they produce toxic air emissions that, like the water pollution, Casella has refused to remediate. In December, 2000, Casella and two of its subsidiaries were fined $90,000 for dumping plastics and other recycables into landfills in New York, in violation of service contracts with customers who separated recyclables for roadside pickup by Casella-owned haulers.
It's cheaper to pay fines than to operate within the law.
Casella was recently added to the Bush EPA's "Climate Leaders," a group of 43 corporations supposedly committed to reducing greenhouse gases. Casella joins such giants of the environment movement as Eastman Kodak of Rochester, NY, and the Miller Brewing Co. (Greenwire, 10/4/2002). Doesn't President Bush know that methane, although produced by humans in much smaller amounts than carbon dioxide, is a far more powerful greenhouse gas by weight, and that landfills are the single largest human source of methane?
Casella's increasing domination of the northeast waste market together with its history of "heavy-handed legal tactics designed to force Casella's will on [towns]" (Eagle Times, Claremont NH, 4/23/2000) prompted Maine's Attorney General to take steps to ensure its local market remains competitive. Maine imposed the following conditions on Casella's operations: early termination of any trash hauling contract by a locality cannot be penalized by more than $75; fair prices must be offered when towns select other haulers using the Orrington incinerator Casella inherited from KTI; and, fearing Casella would inflate costs of disposing its incinerator ash at its Hampden landfill, Casella's outside minority partner gets meaningful participation in the contract procurement process. (Waste News, 12/18/1999)
In the small town of Sanbornton, NH, Casella's success "squeez[ing] out smaller, independent businesses" forced the town to award them a garbage hauling contract; then "the town's disposal costs went up from $43 to $60 a ton." (Foster's Daily Democrat, 11/14/99)
And the story continues . . .