Canadian group opposes Vt. landfill PFAS plan

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Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 5:42 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2023 at 6:03 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A Canadian environmental group is among those raising red flags about the latest proposal to treat PFAS leachate from the Coventry landfill.

The state of Vermont has required that the landfill’s operator, Casella, design and build a pilot project to treat the so-called forever chemicals to protect the watershed, which includes Lake Memphremagog, which straddles the international border.

The effluent containing PFAS is currently collected and brought to Montpelier’s treatment plant, where it is treated and released into the Winooski River and Lake Champlain.

State regulators issued a permit this winter to allow Casella to build a structure that would eventually house a system to treat and remove the PFAS from the effluent. The sewage would continue to be trucked to Montpelier. But the Memphremagog Conservation, a Quebec environmental nonprofit is concerned about the plan. They say they are not opposed to the pre-treatment but say re worried it could eventually lead to the release of effluent into Canadian waterways.

“There is pollution from the US to Canada,” said Johanne Lavoie with the Memphremagog Conservation. “This is where we want the Canadian elected people to talk to the US elected people to say ‘can we work this out together?”

PFAS chemicals are in numerous consumer goods which have been produced and consumed for decades. Those products which nearly all Vermonters have used eventually end up in the Coventry landfill. PFAS chemicals have been linked to negative health outcomes.

Meanwhile, Vermont lawmakers are considering several bills targeting PFAS in food packaging and personal care products. And in June, several products including rugs, ski wax, and firefighting foam will officially be banned.

There are millions of dollars in funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to remediate existing PFAS contamination.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the new permit would release the effluent into the Black River, instead of the Winooski River.

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