Environmental groups join legal effort over Coventry landfill groundwater discharges

Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 5:56 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEWPORT, Vt. (WCAX) - Two Vermont environmental groups are seeking to join the legal battle over the permitting of groundwater discharges from the Coventry landfill into Lake Memphremagog.

It’s officially summertime in the Northeast Kingdom and Newport families are beating the heat with a creemee by the water before heading across the bay to Prouty Park.

Not far off lies Vermont’s only landfill and a question of how to deal with the consequences of consumerism. An under-drain diverts thousands of gallons of groundwater daily beneath the landfill’s liner and into wetlands, which eventually empty out into the lake.

This has been happening for years. We have this leakage going straight into the Black River and then into the lake. Our lake is a reservoir,” said Pam Ladds with the group Don’t Undermine Memphremagog’s Purity, or DUMP. The group last spring petitioned the state requesting that the groundwater be treated under a permit with the federal Clean Water Act, which has higher standards, including for PFAS, the so-called forever chemicals.

The Agency of Natural Resources denied that effort and DUMP is now appealing that decision. This week, the Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Conservation Law Foundation requested the Vermont Environmental Court let them sign onto that appeal.

“In this case, that’s a Clean Water Act permit with specific numerical pollutant limits to protect the health of our waterways and Vermonters at-large,” said CLF’s Mason Overstreet.

Casella, which operates the landfill, says they are focused on removing PFAS from the underdrain and that it’s treated separately from leachate which flows from the garbage. “DUMP, CLF, and the VNRC seem to be more committed to creating confusion and stoking fear than providing solutions to the challenges posed by PFAS compounds in our environment,” Casella said in a statement

The PFAS chemicals coming from the landfill are decades in the making and come from consumer products including furniture, clothes, and food packaging.

“Landfills have problems and that’s 19th-century technology in the 21st-century,” Ladds said.

The permit debate is separate from another proposal Casella is working on to filter out and treat PFAS on-site before it is released.

It’s not clear when the Environmental Court will issue a decision.

Related Stories:

Canadian group opposes Vt. landfill PFAS plan

Vermont to step-up monitoring of wastewater facilities for PFAS

Report finds Vermont struggling to reduce waste as landfill fills up

State approves permit for Vermont landfill to deal with ‘forever chemicals’

$400M to be allocated for Vt. water infrastructure projects

Can ‘forever chemicals’ be removed from waste stream?

Montpelier to consider treating more PFAS-laden ‘garbage juice’

Lake Memphremagog’s natural beauty belies worries about contaminants and fish with tumors

Quebec lawmakers say Coventry landfill threatens drinking water

Canadian lawmaker calls for probe into landfill expansion

Canadians worried about proposed Coventry landfill expansion