Questions, questions, questions about the landfill

in coventry/Letter to the Editor/Newport

After the September 10th forum in Newport with a panel presenting opinions on the expansion of the Coventry landfill, I’ve been asking myself and others a lot of questions.

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As a member of DUMP, Don’t Undermine Memphremagog’s Purity, I’ve met concerned citizens working hard to investigate the issues surrounding our local landfill, unfortunately, the only landfill in Vermont.

It’s not an easy task, and I applaud the Chronicle, VT Digger, Seven Days, Newport Dispatch and other media for entering the fray.

I did not attend the recently-called meeting in Coventry, but after reading the Chronicle’s November 21st article I had more questions than answers.

According to the Coventry Selectmen and the VT Department of Environmental Conservation, there are “intense regulations” and frequent monitoring.

How frequently do the Town and State officials visit the landfill for spontaneous inspection? How intense are the regulations Vermont places on its one lined landfill since indeed waste management is “risky business,” according to the DEC Commissioner?

During the Sept. 10th forum the Solid Waste representative, Cathy Jamieson, mentioned that the facility was permitted because of the regulations that were in place, but she acknowledged that they might be less strict standards than in other states.

What are the standards in other states? How often do the wells get tested?

If the Waste Water Treatment Plants are not designed to test for PFAs, how can we be assured that leachate is clean when it goes into the lakes or rivers of Vermont?

How long does it take for contaminates to migrate? How often are the landfill liners checked for tears or slippage?

Vermont’s Universal Recycling Act was enacted in 2012 but the amount of recyclables removed from garbage has decreased our waste only slightly in the past 6 years.

What steps has the Solid Waste Department taken that have worked or haven’t made a difference? What do we really need to do in Vermont to reduce and reuse our garbage? What specific strategies has Casella implemented to become forerunners in the field of safe and environmentally friendly waste management as they claimed?

And what is the “ideal place for a landfill,” as the panel’s senior hydrologist posed?
A watershed bordering an international lake that provides drinking water to Canadian citizens?

Or a poor region where residents might benefit from the dollars that the landfill company will pay to compensate for the odors and the traffic (although all the other communities around the region and state have to deal with the huge trucks and emissions, as well)?

The squashed plans to site landfills in Burlington and Williston in recent years failed due to … what?

Were they not ideal places to site a landfill, being in populated zones where more of the garbage is generated and collected?

What long-range planning is Vermont doing to solve these problems?

Our communities, whether they are for or against the expansion of the Coventry landfill, would like specific answers to all these questions.

The public should be made aware of the test results and options and get specific, not vague, answers.

From our DUMP queries, we’ve seen that a lot of digging needs to be done into DEC, Act 250 or NEWSVT records to gain facts.

My final question is “What is the rush?”

Deliberations, answers and solutions should precede the permit expansion.

Let’s take the time to solidify Vermont’s solid waste management plan.

Respectfully,

Lindy Sargent, Barton

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