Growing Concerns About Landfill Leachate

To the Editor:

You know of the work of DUMP, Don’t Undermine Memphremagog’s Purity, which started three years ago with our opposition to the expansion of the Casella NEWSVT Coventry Landfill. Our concerns have only grown in this time, along with the mountain of garbage that sits in the Memphremagog watershed, turning our area into a sacrifice zone with environmental threats to lake water quality, fish, and the drinking water of 175,000 Canadians.

The biggest threat is the question of what to do with the leachate, the garbage juice of landfills, both active ones like this Coventry site and even old, closed landfills. This issue has become a major challenge to the waste industry across the United States because of the PFAS and other toxic landfill chemicals which are not removed when the leachate is discharged into waterways at the municipal wastewater treatment facilities. Through “Freedom of Information Act” requests of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources last summer we’d learned of plans to build a “pretreatment facility at the Coventry Landfill,” which was one area we questioned at the August 24th meeting held in Newport with Secretary Moore and staff from ANR/DEC. We have read the reports by consultants hired by NEWSVT and ANR, with options including designated discharge locations, costs, and the effectiveness of removing PFAS and perhaps other toxics.

Because of the current “moratorium” barring leachate from being discharged into Lake Memphremagog, the 60,000 gallons per day load is and would continue to be trucked to Montpelier’s wastewater treatment plant and discharged there into the Winooski River along with leachate from Casella’s Central Vermont closed landfill. Leachate from the Casella owned Bethlehem, NH landfill will also be imported for disposal, according to their permit plans.

But plans to permit pretreatment include an experimental “pilot project” to “pretreat” the leachate, possibly on the Coventry site, with mention of discharge into the Black River! Then Lake Memphremagog would be at risk of receiving all the leachate again, and the Kingdom would bear an even greater environmental burden. This would be the first leachate pretreatment project in the United States. Lake Memphremagog must not be the guinea pig of the country for determining if this solution works! If this goes through as permitted, the landfill owner-operator would have the greater say in what technology is chosen and how it would be managed. We have already seen a leachate spill in Coventry, and Casella was responsible for a 175,000 gallon spill in Bethlehem, NH this year. Enough is enough! It’s time for Vermont to find another site, another solution for solid waste management, out of the Memphremagog watershed. And in the Kingdom we can say NO to accepting any leachate, as have Burlington and Essex.

The Agency of Natural Resources of the Coventry Landfill, must have full authority- in decision- making, oversight of operations and ensuring the effectiveness and safety of the technology-not Casella NEWSVT, which is as we know a for-profit corporate entity whose main concern is to its stockholders, not our environment or our public health as its track record shows. Citizens of the Memphremagog region, including 175,000 Quebec neighbors, must be protected.

Please join DUMP in reviewing the ANR permit, learning more at two meetings, accessible in person or remotely, October 26 in Newport and October 28 in Montpelier, and providing your input and questions in public comments due November 8. Access information is listed below. We all value our environment, so let’s be actively involved in protecting it, and say No Leachate Ever in Lake Memphremagog! Follow the Precautionary Principle and Do the Right Thing, Vermont!

Oppose this harmful permit by posting a comment before the deadline!

Your comments will be accepted from Monday, September 20, 2021 until November 8, 2021. To review the permit and supporting documents, please see this webpage.

You can email your comments on permit #3-1406 New England Waste Services,Inc. to: anr.wsmdwastewater@ vermont.gov.

Attend a public hearing or join a virtual meeting.

Attend in person in Newport!

October 26, 2021, from 5:30 – 7:30 PM Newport Gateway Center Floor #1, 84 Fyfe Drive, Newport VT 05855.

• Join on your computer or mobile app: Microsoft Meeting Teams Link.

• Or join by phone (audio only): +1 802-828-7667, United States, Montpelier. Phone conference ID: 144 161 579#

Attend in person in Montpelier!

October 28, 2021, from 5:30 – 7:30 PM Agency of Natural Resources Annex Building 190 Junction Road, Berlin, Vermont 05602.

• Join on your computer or mobile app: Microsoft Teams Meeting Link

• Or join by phone (audio only): +1 802-828-7667, United States, Montpelier. Phone Conference ID: 796 679 119#

Lindy Sargent

Orleans, Vt.

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