Beveridge & Diamond
 

MassDEP Back in Site Assignment Process After One-Year Hiatus

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. - Massachusetts Client Alert, July 15, 2011

Just one year after changes to G.L. c. 111, § 150A removed the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) from the site assignment approval process for solid waste facilities, legislation signed this week by Governor Deval Patrick reinstated MassDEP’s role. 

Applicants seeking a solid waste site assignment under G.L. c. 111, § 150A must once again request and receive a site suitability report from MassDEP prior to proceeding with the site assignment approval process in front of the local board of health.  The statutory changes also reinstate MassDEP’s authority over refuse transfer stations that handle less than 50 tons per day, which had been transferred to local boards of health.

While the recent amendment simply removes the 2010 changes from the statute in their entirety, the legislature also made one substantive change to the language.  The legislature expanded MassDEP’s solid waste permitting authority by adding the following (new language in italics): “The permit may limit or prohibit the disposal of particular waste types of solid waste at a facility in order to protect the public health, promote reuse, waste reduction and recycling, extend the useful life of the facility, or reduce its environmental impact.”  This amendment looks to bolster MassDEP’s authority to impose recycling conditions on solid waste facilities, an issue that has been a sticking point between MassDEP and members of the solid waste industry that operate facilities subject to site assignment. 

Although the statutory change in 2010 to reduce MassDEP’s role in site assignments was initiated by MassDEP as an attempt to reduce staff time in a period of declining budgets and personnel, there was an outcry from local boards of health that the change burdened those boards without supplying additional resources to address the shift of work to those boards. Consequently, the legislature has given MassDEP back the authority and responsibility, despite also instituting another budget cut of approximately 6 percent.   

Documents showing the changes between (i) the 2010 amended version and the 2011 amendments and (ii) the pre-2010 version with the 2011 amendments are attached for reference.

For more information, please contact Marc J. Goldstein (mgoldstein@bdlaw.com and (781) 416-5715) or Stephen M. Richmond (srichmond@bdlaw.com and (781) 416-5710).