The Clean Water Blog

Fall stream

25th Annual Fall Celebration Awardee Feature: Saugus Leaders, the Alliance for Health and the Environment

Behold the Saugus Sheroes of the Alliance for Health and the Environment: Ann Devlin, Debra Panetta, Jackie Mercurio! These are the women who help lead the fight to better protect the health of the communities who live in the shadow of the Wheelabrator trash burner located in Saugus, Massachusetts. And they do it from within the host community where Wheelabrator works hard to cloud its environmental track record and win friends through contributing to various community functions. 

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From left to right: Ann Devlin, Debra Panetta, Jackie Mercurio

With the dubious distinction of being the nation's oldest trash burner still in operation, the Wheelabrator plant has a long track record of pollution. Located in a sensitive marsh area near densely settled neighborhoods in Saugus, Lynn and Revere, the ash landfill next to the incinerator is unlined -- which means there are no formal barriers preventing the leaching of toxic chemicals contained in the ash such as dioxin, lead, mercury, cadmium and more. And despite the efforts of the Alliance for Health and the Environment, the coalition of groups working to close the incinerator, it has been allowed to remain in operation and recently expand its landfill. 

Ann, Debra and Jackie are the leaders who help provide the heart and soul to this effort. We are thrilled to honor them with John O’Connor Grassroots Leadership Award at our Fall Celebration! They are courageous, committed, and motivated by love for their community. 

Come join us at our annual event on October 19th to celebrate and honor their inspiring work! You can find more information at