June 21, 2023 (MONTPELIER, VT) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) are joining an effort led by Don’t Undermine Memphremagog’s Purity (DUMP) to clean up dangerous pollution leaching from underneath the Coventry Landfill and making its way into nearby waterways including the Black River and Lake Memphremagog. The outcome of this effort has ripple effects for how the State protects water quality across Vermont.
DUMP, a group of concerned Northeast Kingdom community members, is pushing for the landfill’s discharges of harmful pollutants, which include PFAS and arsenic, to be covered under the Clean Water Act, which would require the facility to obtain a federal Clean Water Act permit and clean up the pollution. Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) denied the group’s effort, and CLF and VNRC are joining the appeal of that decision to the state Environmental Court.
“We welcome CLF and VNRC’s intervention in this matter to protect the water quality of these important waterways on behalf of their members,” said Henry Coe, DUMP Advisory Committee Member.
“The State’s decision is an assault on one of our bedrock environmental protections,” said CLF attorney Mason Overstreet. “Dangerous chemicals are leaching out of this landfill and polluting the Black River and Lake Memphremagog, a drinking water source for thousands of people. The State’s irresponsible decision not to require a Clean Water Act permit blows a hole through the law’s core protections and leaves Vermonters exposed to pollutants. The court should reverse the state’s decision and require a permit with effective pollution control limits.”
A drain beneath the landfill is discharging landfill leachate polluted with PFAS chemicals, arsenic, and cadmium into nearby wetlands that flow into Lake Memphremagog. The lake is a drinking water source for more than 175,000 Canadian residents.
“DUMP has correctly identified that there is a harmful discharge that is polluting Vermont waters with PFAS chemicals that must be addressed under the Clean Water Act,” said Jon Groveman, VNRC Policy and Water Program Director. “VNRC is committed to ensuring that ANR complies with the Clean Water Act by intervening in this proceeding.” added Groveman.
Experts are available for further comment.