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VNRC and Partners Call on VT Agency of Natural Resources to Address Coventry Landfill Violations and PFAS Contamination

VNRC, Conservation Law Foundation and Just Zero are expressing serious concerns regarding New England Waste Services of Vermont, Inc.’s (NEWSVT) recent violations of its Pretreatment Discharge Permit for Coventry Landfill. NEWSVT constructed and began operating its Pilot Leachate Treatment System without the required permit amendment, bypassing public and agency review processes. This action, meant to address the pressing issue of (PFAS) contamination, disregarded the law, undermining public participation and procedural safeguards. Our organizations are calling on the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) to enforce compliance, cease operations, and establish the necessary permitting procedures for meaningful public input and a thorough agency review of the Pilot Plan.

Read our full press release and the letter our organizations sent to ANR, below.

October 12, 2023 (Montpelier, VT) – New England Waste Services of Vermont, Inc.’s Coventry landfill is violating the law and one of its water quality permits. Over the past several years, the landfill has been in the process of developing a proposal to treat its leachate, the liquid runoff from water seeping through garbage, for PFAS (dangerous forever chemicals). In recent days, rather than awaiting public comment and input on the adequacy and effectiveness of the treatment system and State approval, as required by law, the landfill owner simply built and began operating the system.

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Just Zero, and Vermont Natural Resources Council are calling on State officials to halt the system’s operation until the landfill owners go through the proper required process—including a public comment period and State approval.

“The owners of this landfill are blatantly ignoring the law and robbing Vermonters of the right to weigh in on a project that will affect public health and the environment,” said Nora Bosworth, Zero Waste Attorney at CLF. “State laws exist for a reason, and the Coventry landfill can’t be allowed to continue operating this system in defiance of the law. It’s time for the Agency of Natural Resources to step in.”

“Landfill leachate is a significant contributor to the toxic and unjust PFAS crisis faced by Vermont residents and people throughout the U.S.,” said Kevin Budris, Advocacy Director at Just Zero. “By allowing the Coventry landfill to chart its own course on PFAS, without public input or scientific review, Vermont is letting polluters have their way at the expense of public health. The people of Vermont deserve better.”

“It is confounding that the landfill owners would move forward with such a vital project to address pollution from the landfill in direct violation of its permit,” said VNRC Policy and Water Program Director, Jon Groveman. “VNRC strongly supports addressing the pollution coming from the landfill but action must be taken with full public and agency input to ensure that the treatment system will work properly and is implemented in accordance with the law.”

The groups sent a letter to the Agency of Natural Resources detailing Coventry’s violations and calling for immediate action to fix the problem.

Experts are available for further comment.