OLD TOWN — Elders from the Penobscot Nation led a water ceremony at Riverfront Park. The group met in solidarity to pray for the health of Penobscot River.
“I grew up in the water. We grew up in the water. We used to eat the fish. And to see it get better, then worse again, it breaks my heart, it really does,” said Kathy Paul, a Penobscot Nation member.
Tribal member Angelique Neptune said she worries about people getting sick and about everything that lives in the water.
“It’s poison and the chemicals they are releasing into the water they shouldn’t be. People don’t understand how drastic it is,” she said.
According to a press release from Sunlight Media Collective, Juniper Ridge Landfill dumps more than 1.3 million gallons of leachate, which is formed from rainfall and the natural decomposition of waste.
“The Penobscot Nation and the communities within the boundaries of Juniper Ridge Landfill are being polluted,” said Dawn Neptune Adams, a Penobscot Nation member and a journalist with the collective.
However, Joseph Fusco of Casella Waste Systems Inc., which operates the landfill, that may not be accurate.
“It is simply incorrect to suggest or imply that the state-owned landfill in Old Town is dumping large quantities of leachate into the Penobscot River. It is incorrect to label Juniper Ridge landfill an industrial polluter,” Fusco said.
“This facility is important infrastructure designed, constructed, permitted and operated to advance public and environmental health and safety by managing society’s solid waste,” he said.
Regardless, the Penobscot Nation plans to advocate for the Penobscot River by holding more water ceremonies in the near future.