Public comment coming to a close on PFAS at Vermont’s only landfill

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 6:01 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Next week marks a key deadline for a project aimed at dealing with so-called forever chemicals at Vermont’s only landfill. The public comment period is coming to a close on a portion of a pilot project aimed at removing PFAS from garbage runoff at the Coventry landfill.

At the Casella landfill in Coventry, rain and snow seep through decades of garbage and are funneled through the liner into tanks. The leachate is also rich with per poly-fluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, a family of chemicals which have been linked to negative health effects.

At the Coventry landfill, there are several projects moving forward that aim to filter out the PFAS.

Advocates with the group Don’t Undermine Memphremagog’s Purity are concerned that Casella, a private company, will be processing and discharging on site. They would rather see the state run a facility outside of the Memphremagog watershed.

“This landfil isn’t going to last forever. We’re not looking for long term for longer-term solutions, we should be. This is not the smartest way to go. We could be doing so much better,” said Pam Ladds, who opposes the PFAS filtration project.

For years, the leachate was shipped and treated in Montpelier and released into the Winooski. But Montpelier’s wastewater stopped treating the effluent. It’s now being treated in Plattsburgh, which is still in the Lake Champlain watershed.

A spokesperson for Casella says they are tracking the progress of the project and are going to honor the public comment process.

So what’s the solution? Ultimately, leaders tell me this is a larger discussion that involves Vermont’s Legislature, the federal government and the American consumer.

Where we put our garbage and how we deal with the health consequences has been a tricky and complex issue for the state to get its arms around.

Just as important is prevention. Vermont is engaged in efforts to make sure PFAS doesn’t make it into the landfill in the first place by banning several products.

Click here to submit comments. You’ll need to search permit number: OL510-2022-2