Fight con­tin­ues against Coventry dump ex­pan­sion

Sherbrooke Record - - BROME COUNTY NEWS - By Matthew Mc­cully

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.

RECORD ARCHIVES

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.

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