RadioActive 1/23/24: Juniper Ridge Landfill Contract Extension Sought

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco
Co-producer: Dawn Neptune Adams
A project of WERU and Sunlight Media Collective. Learn more at

Casella Waste Systems, the private operator of the state owned Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town, is seeking an extension of their state contract, despite threats to the local environment and communities, including the Penobscot Nation.

The State of Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services Bureau of General Services will hold a public hearing regarding changes to its Operating Services Agreement (OSA) between the state and private company Casella Waste Systems, which operates the state owned Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town. A public hearing slated for January was postponed. The new date is Thursday, February 15th, from 6-8pm, in Brewer, at Jeff’s Catering. Written comments can be submitted to the Bureau of General Services by Monday, February 26th, at 5pm.

In its public notice, the Bureau states that it expects to extend the Operating Services Agreement (OSA) an additional six years from February 5th, 2034, to February 5th, 2040, because of Casella’s proposed expansion of Juniper Ridge Landfill.

Over the past two decades, area residents, including the Penobscot Nation, have continued to shine a light on harmful environmental impacts from the landfill and questioned the for-profit model that has increased the importation of out-of-state waste, straining landfill capacity, while minimizing recycling efforts. Leachate from the landfill is currently processed at the paper mill in Old Town, then dumped into the Penobscot River directly below the Penobscot Nation, who have expressed concern for fish and human health impacts from effluent chemicals, including PFAS. This past May, the landfill itself caught on fire and burned for a number of hours, sending plumes of smoke into the air.

Local residents and others oppose the proposed expansion of the Juniper Ridge Landfill, the reason given for the state’s consideration of extending ‘s Juniper Ridge contract. They call for an evaluation of Casella’s performance before there is an extension of their contract, that an extension not be granted until an expansion license could be granted, and that an expansion application should consider disposal capacity for in-state waste and include the observation of Environmental Justice, which is now required in statute in the public benefit determination.

A landmark measure was passed by the legislature in 2022 restricting the importation of out of state waste, but was postponed for two years this past May, after Casella Waste Systems claimed the restrictions on out of state waste affected their ability to stabilize the landfills liquid sludge.

Written Public Comments can be submitted by Monday, February 26th at 5pm.

Submission by email, send to: [email protected]

Submission by mail, send to:
Lane Gould, Landfill Manager
Bureau of General Services
111 Sewall St.  Cross Office Building 4th floor
77 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333-0077

Maria Girouard, is from Penobscot Nation. She’s a Penobscot Nation Tribal Council member (though is not formerly representing the Nation today) She’s a grassroots environmental organizer with Dawn Land Environmental Defense and founder of Sunlight Media Collective. She’s writer and director of the documentary, “The Penobscot : Ancestral River Contested Territory.”

Ed Spencer is with the local grassroots watchdog network Don’t Waste Me, which has been involved for the past two decades in opposing Juniper Ridge landfill’s pollution, importation of out-of-state waste and business practices through grassroots organizing legislation and engaging as legal intervenor in a number of proceedings. Ed lives in close proximity to the Juniper Ridge Landfill.

Nickie Sekera, founder and organizer of Community Water Justice and a contributing member of Sunlight Media Collective. She also has recently been appointed to the Commission To Study the Role of Water as a Resource in the State of Maine. She grew up in Eddington.