Landfill Expansion Allows for Profound Growth
NewsVT, a subsidiary of Casella, has received approval from Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources to expand the state’s sole landfill in Coventry. Located in the Northeast Kingdom surrounded by wetlands, it comes within 1,000 feet of the Black River that feeds into Lake Memphremagog.
Approval was granted despite high levels of PFAS found in two of the landfill’s monitoring wells. Testing showed a level of 116 ppt of PFAS in a well down gradient of the unlined, 13-acre landfill portion, nearly six times the Vermont safety standard of 20 ppt. Test results also showed a level of 6.7 ppt adjacent to and down gradient from a lined area of the landfill.
In addition, leachate from the Coventry landfill is treated at waste water treatment facilities around the state, resulting in PFAS toxins being dumped into the Winooski River and Lake Champlain. Because these treatment facilities are not able to treat inorganic and soluble waste like PFAS, they flow right into the water ways where they will remain.
Lake Memphremagog, with two-thirds of its length extending into Canada, is the source of drinking water for 185,000 Canadians.
The impacts on water are not the only concern, as air quality is also being impacted. Complaints by area residents about landfill odors are evidence of hydrogen sulfide, known for contributing to numerous health problems. Management of the resulting high levels of methane are also of importance as this gas impacts the ambient air and is a major contributor to rising temperatures and climate change.
The next step in the process is for the landfill permit application to get approval from the ACT 250 Commission, a quasi-judicial board that reviews the environmental, social and fiscal impacts of major developments in the state.
If the landfill expansion receives ACT 250 approval, it would mean:
- A total of 51 acres would be added to the existing 78-acre landfill, which may include a variance allowing further extension into the wetlands.
- An additional 18 years will be added to the current permitted four years of landfill’s lifetime.
- The mound of trash will grow by 106 feet, resulting in a height of 1,076 feet.
- Dumping of an additional 13 million tons of waste, with 30 percent of that coming from outside of Vermont.
- Transporting the millions of tons of waste requires tens of thousands of trips by trucks, creating a significant amount of traffic in rural Vermont and resulting in a significant amount of emissions.
- Generation of an additional 264 million gallons of toxic leachate, most likely resulting in a flow of PFAS into Vermont’s rivers and lakes.