Dump Diggers Dictionary

The Dump Diggers Dictionary will show how the environmental bureaucracy (read: corporate expediters) reworks the public's language in favor of private interest and agency expediency. Look here for what we have learned about what some of these words really mean:

"EXPANSION" (does not include height, waste volumes, types of trash, etc.)
"FOOTPRINT" (not where the trash comes from, such as Boston, Connecticut, etc.)
"LEAKING" ("this bottle is leaking")
"OUT OF STATE WASTE" "orange peels"
"REVENUE NEUTRAL" "orange peels"
"SPECIAL WASTES" (includes blueberries, spoiled cottage cheese and aftermarket tennis shoes)
"TOXIC / NON-TOXIC" (as in "too much salt or oxygen can kill you")
"YEARS EXPERIENCE" (please read as, "years prostitution as waste industry flacks")
(ETC. -- please send your favorites to the address below)

Note: Maybe this page should also have our favorite quotes, such as from Don Meagher, "We have no more of a crystal ball than anyone else does." (BDN June 9, 2005)


The word “public” and its use in the phrase “public participation” as applied to the West Old Town Landfill process by Maine’s office of the Attorney General is only one among dozens of misuses of the English language extant throughout this deal. According to Webster the public is, 1) “the people as a whole” or, 2) “the group at which a particular activity or enterprise aims.” Even using the more restrictive definition, the West Old Town Landfill, being a state-owned enterprise, aims at all the people in Maine, not just those in Old Town or nearby towns. Notices placed in one or two local newspapers or meetings held by “invitation only” are not public. The dog and pony shows staged by Casella and Maine State officials and labeled “public information” meetings were more spectator than participatory. This deal should have been factually revealed, reviewed and debated democratically throughout the State. (Pam Bell, March 29, 2005)

At every point in this case the State has acted to narrow the grounds upon which the interests of the public, both those directly affected and the interests of Maine’s citizens at large, could be expressed and heard. This process will have serious negative long-term consequences for the State and its citizens. The strategies against public involvement have been numerous: crafting legislation by interested parties outside public view; selective invitations to legislative hearings in Augusta; narrowly crafted and minimally distributed public notices; cancellation of home rule powers and of important statutory safeguards by means of legislative resolve; selective opportunities for participation of citizens of host communities Alton and Old Town; SPO and DEP actions aimed to prevent full public hearings; limiting the opportunity for hearings to the most narrow technical grounds; and reliance on narrow interpretations of rules and statutes that define such terms as “expansion,” “commercial landfill,” “out of state waste,” “toxic,” “existing landfill,” “siting,” “public hearings” and other terms that have apparently been defined to meet the interests of governmental and industry players while used primarily to exclude understanding and participation on the part of the general public. As one perceptive citizen commented, “they’ve written their own dictionary” and the public has been left out. (Paul Schroeder, from Appeal to Board of Environmental Protection, May 10, 2004)

This page is under active construction. If you have comments, corrections or additions, please contact Paul Schroeder. Last update: July 27, 2005.
Thank you.