The Burlington Intervale’s composting facility, which manages UVM’s compostable materials, was almost forced to shut down its composting site due to environmental and permitting violations since April.
The Intervale had violated Act 250, a Vermont land-use permitting policy, which regulates Vermon’s commercial development, according to the Vermont Environmental Assistance Parnership (VEAP).
The composting facility has been furthermore believed to be built on a Native American grounds site, which may be of archeological significance, according to Vermonts Concerned on Native American Affairs.
“We suspect the compost section of the Intervale to have been built on Indian sites,” Charles Knight, senior researcher in the UVM Department of Archeology, said, “however, because the Intervale has not obtained an Act 250 land-use permit, we cannot test the grounds.”
“The Intervale plans on obtaining a permit so the lands can be tested; but, until that point we cannot state for certain if it is actually built on Indian sites or not,” he said.
UVM generates 4.6 tons of compostable waste in a week, which it sends to the Intervale. According to VEAP, without the Intervale, the University would face difficulties shipping its compost further away.
“All of our food waste goes to the Intervale compost,” Christina Erickson, Eco-Reps Coordinator for UVM, said. “Without the Intervale, we would have to find an alternative solution to waste management, which is by no means an easy task.”
“We would have to send our compost far away which would be costly for the University, [and] simply putting our waste in landfills is just not an acceptable solution this day and age,” she said.
Today, the Intervale is no longer faced with the decision to shut down. It immediately recognized its need for permits and complied with regulations and corrected the situation, according to the Intervale Center.
Glenn McRae, executive director of the Intervale Center, said, “Intervale Compost does have permits. A year ago it was found to have outgrown those permits and was not in compliance with current rules ofoperation.”
Environmental non-compliance issues were recognized and corrected immediately. Over the last year Intervale compost operations have not shown to cause environmental harm, compromise human health or damage cultural resources, he said.
Although the Intervale has acquired the necessary permits, the Center said it can no longer undertake its composting project.
Instead, The Vermont Solid Waste district has agreed to take over the Intervale’s composting project. According to the Intervale Center, the Chittenden Solid Waste District will now handle UVM’s compostable materials without any inconveniences in regards to financial matters or any change to UVM’s waste management practices.
Tom Moreau, General Manager of the Chittenden Solid Waste District and coordinator of this new settlement, was unavailable for comment.
For now, as long as the Attorney General, the Intervale, and the Solid Waste District agree to the same terms in the settlement, it seems that UVM can still carry out its composting practices without any interference.