The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority insists its plan to dump ash from its trash incinerators at a site in Franklin is safe, but a group of residents and lawmakers wants to torpedo the project before it can get off the ground.
"This area is a jewel," said Susan Allen, a Franklin resident who has helped organize the opposition group Voice for the People of Franklin. She called the CRRA "arrogant" for trying to place a toxic dump in an area of pristine forest and clean waterways that is part of a nationally recognized natural corridor in eastern Connecticut known as "The Last Green Valley."
Allen and others from the area testified before the legislature's joint environment committee Friday. They're worried that the ash, which contains metals and other toxic materials, will leak out, and about heavy truck traffic on nearby roads.
A bill co-sponsored by Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, would forbid CRRA from using parcels of land in Franklin and Windham for the landfill.
"We're not stuffing this down your throat," countered CRRA Chairman Michael Pace. He said the project "will have all the safeguards that the public needs."
The project, in the works for years, needs approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Siting Council. CRRA hopes to open it by 2011.
The CRRA would pay Franklin at least $5 per ton of ash it dumps, which Pace said could offset the town's property tax by a third.
Pace, who is first selectman in Old Saybrook, said the landfill will save CRRA member communities about $10 million a year. Since the Hartford landfill closed at the end of December, the CRRA is sending ash to a private landfill in Putnam or out of state. That costs cities and towns about $8 more a ton.
The CRRA is studying the suitability of the Franklin property, several hundred acres about 2,000 feet from the Shetucket River. The site is the best of 77 examined by the state, CRRA President Tom Kirk said.
The aquifer under the site is key: If it could be a source of public drinking water, the DEP won't OK the plan. But state regulations also require that there be enough water under the dump to carry any potential leaks to the Shetucket to be diluted and dispersed. The CRRA hopes to finish assessing the aquifer within several weeks.
CRRA engineers said the ash containment system would be "better than anything in the ground [in Connecticut]."
Opponents said the CRRA should keep using the Putnam site and focus more on recycling and less on burning trash.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at