The Chittenden County Solid Waste District (CSWD) in Vermont will pay a $400,000 fine to settle allegations of improper glass dumping, according to an announcement Dec. 29 from Attorney General TJ Donovan.
According to VTDigger.com, the move closes an enforcement case that dates back to April 2018.
CSWD will pay a $78,000 penalty for improperly disposing of glass in three locations on its Williston property. In addition, it will pay nearly $180,000 directly to the state and put $220,000 toward environmental projects intended to benefit the public.
The settlement comes after the state Agency of Natural Resources decided to halt the processing of contentious back-permits to CSWD, while the enforcement case was pending.
“I think it’s a good resolution for the state,” Donovan said. “I think it holds Chittenden Solid Waste accountable. They’re going to pay a hefty fine, and they have to give back to consumers. They have to disclose to consumers what they’re doing with people’s glass that they bring to recycle because everybody thinks it’s being recycled.”
According to Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Peter Walke, the case shook “Vermonters’ trust in the recycling system” when it became clear that glass was being disposed of on CSWD’s Williston property.
The settlement states 2,186 tons of glass were disposed of “to repair a depression in the closed landfill” in 2013, while another 15,029 tons of glass were disposed of at the end of Redmond Road between 2016 and 2018. An additional 734 tons of glass were used as subbase for a compost field on the Williston property.
But CSWD reported that this glass had been “transferred off-site” and used appropriately for local projects, reports VTDigger.com.
While CSWD admits to the facts that are laid out in the agreement, the settlement doesn’t require it to admit that these actions were wrong or illegal. The waste district maintains it acted in good faith and disagrees with the alleged violation.
Sarah Reeves, the executive director of CSWD, said the organization acted in good faith believing “that the use of recycled glass was consistent with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Acceptable Uses for Processed Glass Aggregate policy and also reflected industry-standard management practices for this material.”
CSWD disagrees with the state’s allegations, but Reeves said “these past decisions caused confusion, concern, and mistrust in how CSWD has managed glass processed at our materials recovery facility (MRF).”
Donovan said he is confident that the fine is large enough to dissuade the waste district from committing any future violations.
CSWD is a chartered municipal entity with taxing authority. It has not yet determined how it will pay for the settlement. The decision will be made with input from the CSWD board.