Video: City Council Meeting of 10/15/09; Odgers Challenges Accuracy of Mayor’s Campaign Website

Here is a complete video of the 10/15/09 meeting of Northampton’s City Council. This video is 1 hour 50 minutes long and was recorded by Mimi Odgers of Water Not Waste.


Below is a YouTube clip of comments on the landfill made by Ms. Odgers during the public comment period. A partial transcript:

“[On] the mayor’s website, in her issues column, it states about the landfill expansion… ‘We have studied the air and ground water issues and found there to be no risk.’ This is also a problem I have because at the recent debate…the panel person also stated that there’s no risks for the expansion…

“The Massachusetts Department of Public Health stated..from July 9th of 2009, that they cannot currently conclude whether breathing outdoor air in the neighborhoods surrounding the Northampton sanitary landfill could result in health effects. ‘The information we need to make a decision is not available. We are working with the City of Northampton and [the] Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to gather the needed information.’

“In order to reach a conclusion they need outdoor monitoring data from the neighborhoods surrounding the landfill collected for over 24-hour periods of time. In the past, the only time that they would do air monitoring…is they would do what’s called like ‘air grabs’, so they would pick certain times of the day and they would measure the air. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says that’s not good enough. We need 24-hour monitoring. So to say that there [are] absolutely no health risks is inaccurate at best. And unfortunately, what I feel it is, is politics as usual… If you repeat a lie enough, people start to believe it…”

Here is the official agenda of the meeting:

See also:

Valley Advocate: “MDPH Admonishes Northampton” (10/16/08)
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, swamped with calls from concerned Valley residents, has warned the City of Northampton against trumpeting a recent MDPH study as evidence that the city’s landfill poses no threat to public health…

In recent weeks, Mayor Clare Higgins, as well as the editorial page of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, has publicly cheered a recently released MDPH study of available health statistics for neighborhoods near the municipal landfill. The study, opined the Gazette, concluded that the landfill is “not responsible for any health problems, including cancer, among the city residents.”

According to [Suzanne K. Condon, MDPH’s Director of the Bureau of Environmental Health], the study did not reach such a conclusion. In fact, she said, given that cancer, for example, is unlikely to show up in reported statistics “until 20 to 40 years after an exposure,” the MDPH study has almost no value in determining whether the landfill is a threat to public health today. “People who get cancer today were likely exposed [to a carcinogen] in the 1960s,” Condon said in an interview with the Advocate last week…

Video: Special Meeting of the Board of Public Works and the City Council, 8/21/09; Landfill Ballot Question No. 2
The claim that there will be “no new environmental risk for the city” seems scientifically impossible. As noted at Zero Waste America, “even the best liner and leachate collection system will ultimately fail due to natural deterioration.” It might be plausible to claim the environmental risk from landfill expansion is small, but it’s not zero.

Video: Department of Public Health Presents Landfill Study

Paradise City Forum: Landfill and Aquifer