Marion’s Waste District proposal rankles Wareham, Carver

Aug 27, 2020

Tensions rose at a Wednesday night meeting of the Carver Marion Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District Meeting as Marion representatives proposed withdrawing from the district, leaving the other towns with the liability if anything were to go wrong at the Carver landfill.

The three towns have crafted a potential agreement that residents will be asked to vote on at their town meetings. That agreement would reduce the district to a skeleton by ceasing all operations beyond the ongoing payment of liabilities like post-retirement benefits for employees and the insurance on the Carver landfill property.

Representatives of Marion are concerned that the agreement may not pass at all three town meetings, and, last month, were asked by Wareham and Carver to come up with a clear “plan b” in case that were to happen.

Representatives presented the plan, which Selectman John Waterman described as “generous,” to frustrated representatives of Wareham and Carver.

The back-up plan would see Marion exit the district, taking two pieces of equipment and the Benson Brook Transfer Station, but relinquishing any claim to the district’s other assets and funds. In exchange, Marion would give up any responsibility for the ongoing liability related to the Carver landfill.

That is, if there were some environmental problem at the landfill after the district’s insurance runs out in 2045, Wareham and Carver alone would be on the hook to pay any costs.

“We see this as a win-win,” Waterman said, arguing that Marion was, in essence, leaving money on the table in exchange for reducing liability.

Bob Belbin, a Carver selectman and committee member, said that logic wasn’t convincing. Marion would be forgoing its share of the district’s $1.1 million bank account which may be depleted through the district’s responsibilities, and would only be about $375,000 at most.

When compared to the possible monumental costs if the waste at the landfill began leaching into the groundwater, for instance, Belbin said it simply wasn’t a fair trade.

Marion representatives hoped to have the district agree to the “plan b” proposal quickly so that Marion voters would have both options on the table at the town’s October Town Meeting. Representatives from Wareham and Carver were skeptical, however. 

The board will be meeting again next week with the district’s attorney to discuss the practicality and legality of the proposed back-up plan.