MWRA Agrees to Put Its Food Waste Pilot Program on Hold: Speaker DeLeo’s Request Is Heeded at Forum

Thursday, April 3, 2014
By Cary Shuman
Point Shirley resident Dawn Hagan Manning gives the thumbsup sign after hearing that the MWRA food waste pilot program had been put on hold following Speaker Robert A. DeLeo’s remarks at a public meeting at the Cummings Elementary School.

Point Shirley resident Dawn Hagan Manning gives the thumbsup
sign after hearing that the MWRA food waste pilot program
had been put on hold following Speaker Robert A. DeLeo’s remarks
at a public meeting at the Cummings Elementary School.

Winthrop sent in its cleanup hitter to bat leadoff and he hit a home run for the town.

Speaking first at a public forum with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), Speaker Robert A. DeLeo asked the MWRA to put its food waste pilot program on hold. DeLeo asked for a conciliatory handshake from MWRA Executive Director Frederick Laskey and the two shook hands, with Laskey stating that the pilot program would be postponed for an indefinite period of time.

DeLeo’s remarks had been direct and effective prior to Laskey agreeing to his request to end the possibility of many trucks traveling through Winthrop streets and carrying food waste to the Deer Island Treatment Plant for conversion to energy.

“I’m here on behalf of the many constituents who have contacted me to express their concern over the proposed trucking of food waste to Deer Island for energy production purposes,” said DeLeo.

In his remarks, DeLeo expressed concerns about the additional truck traffic, “what the trucks will be carrying, and the [pilot program’s] significant and negative impact on the quality of life of many of our neighbors here in Winthrop.”

DeLeo also noted the lack of information about the emissions that will be created when the food waste is transformed into energy.

“The bottom line is this,” DeLeo told MWRA officials. “We don’t want any more trucks going through the town. We have enough already. Let’s put this proposal on hold until we can find a solution that works for all of us.”

Residents also spoke at the forum but Laskey had quelled their concerns with his dramatic pronouncement just a few minutes into the speaking portion of the program.

In an interview, Laskey confirmed that the pilot program will be officially put on hold.

“We’re reassessing and looking at different options on what’s possible and what’s not possible,” said Laskey. “But it’s very clear that the trucking – particularly out at Point Shirley – the extra number of trucks in this project was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We’re going back to the drawing board to look at it.”

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