Vermont Judge Vacates Omya’s Waste Disposal Permit
March 3, 2011
SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- Vermont Environmental Court Judge Merideth Wright today notified the parties of her decision to vacate Omya's final solid waste disposal certification, ruling that the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) must incorporate the public trust analysis required by Vermont's groundwater protection law into the solid waste certification process.
Wright's ruling, which remands Omya's final certification to ANR to perform this analysis, is the first interpretation of Vermont's 2008 law designating groundwater of the State as a public trust resource. "Vermont Law School's Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, with the help of VLS student clinicians, has played an important part in establishing a groundbreaking precedent that will help protect the groundwater resources of the State for future generations of Vermonters," said ENRLC Acting Director Teresa Clemmer.
"For years, Omya has dumped its waste into unlined pits, which has caused the groundwater under its mineral processing facility in Florence, Vermont, to become contaminated with arsenic and aminoethyl ethanolamine," according to the lead ENRLC attorney on the case, Sheryl Dickey. The citizens group Residents Concerned about Omya (RCO) has been advocating for protection of the groundwater in the vicinity of the Omya facility for more than seven years.
On behalf of RCO, the ENRLC filed appeals challenging solid waste and Act 250 permits issued by the ANR that allow Omya to dispose of its calcium carbonate waste. In 2008, on behalf of RCO, the ENRLC appealed ANR's issuance of Omya's interim solid waste certification to the Environmental Court. In 2010, they again appealed to the Environmental Court ANR's issuance of Omya's final certification. Omya may appeal today's ruling to the Vermont Supreme Court.
ENRLC attorney Sheryl Dickey is available to comment at 802-831-1626 .
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