Fight continues against Coventry dump expansion
Just before offices closed for the holidays, a number of briefs were delivered to the District 7 Environmental Commission in Johnsbury, Vt. regarding the expansion of the Coventry Landfill (in Coventry, VT), owned by Casella Waste Systems.
On Friday, Oct.12, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) issued a permit for the expansion of the landfill by roughly 51 acres.
Casella is now in the process of getting a permit from the Act 250 Commission, the state’s land use regulator, to finalize the process.
Memphremagog Conservation Inc. submitted its brief for consideration on behalf of local non-profits and environmental organizations, as well as over 40 local citizens who had previously voiced their opposition to the project.
Another was sent on behalf of the Memphremagog MRC and the City of Sherbrooke, and a third, delivered by Gilles Belanger, represented local MNAS.
The briefs delivered to the Act 250 Commission are the precursor to an appeal, expected to be filed at the end of January, to reverse the decision to grant an expansion of the landfill.
“We shall never surrender,” said MCI President Robert Benoit, quoting Winston Churchill.
According to Benoit, a MCI’S argument against the Coventry landfill expansion has to do with the leachate generated by the landfill, and its potential affects on Black River and Lake Memphremagog, a drinking water source for 175,000 Quebecers around the lake.
“If you put liquid garbage in a lake, it will accumulate over time,” Benoit explained.
“The precautionary principle is defined as, “where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing costeffective measures to prevent environmental degradation”. Given the importance of Lake Memphremagog as a drinking water reserve, we believe that the precautionary principle must be applied,” the brief reads.
“There is a lack of information regarding the landfill’s impact on the biodiversity of Black River and Lake Memphremagog. Comprehensive research has not been conducted to assess the change in aquatic species composition and bioaccumulation in the Black River,” it went on.
Benoit explained that 15,000 gallons of leachate per day from the landfill is treated at a facility in Newport, VT that is not properly equipped to address the potential contaminants from the dump, adding that for years, proper testing of the waste water was never done before it reached the lake.
“Besides our current concerns about the impact of the leachate on human health, the expansion of the site would add an additional 7 million gallons of leachate to treat annually to the actual 9.5 million gallons14. The City of Newport may be willing to treat more leachate at their municipal treatment plant as a result of corporate incentives and discharge the ineffectively treated leachate into the lake,” the brief stated.
“Our battle is not with the company. It is with the politicians who decide how much garbage to allow,” Benoit said.
Despite opposition from several local environmental groups and citizens worried about the impact of improperly treated leachate pouring into Lake Memphremagog, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) approved a 51 acre expansion of the Coventry Landfill. Local stakeholders, including Memphremagog Conservation Inc. Have recently submitted briefs to the Act 250 commission, the state's land use regulator, hoping to put a stop to the expansion and the dumping of leachate into the lake. An appeal is also in the works, according to MCI president Robert Benoit.