Letter: Time is a-wasting to address the harmful effects of PFAS contamination in Vermont waters

in Letter to the Editor/Newport

This letter was submitted by Peggy Stevens, DUMP Advisory Committee member from Charleston.

D.U.M.P. (Don’t Undermine Memphremagog’s Purity), Northeast Kingdom’s environmental advocacy group, has been working since the summer of 2018 to raise awareness about the environmental threat posed by the NEWSVT landfill in Coventry.

Since our work began, we have learned just how great a threat the landfill poses -not just to the health of the Lake Memphremagog watershed and the human and wildlife that depend on it, but to the water quality of Vermont’s other jewel, Lake Champlain, and the tributaries that feed it.

Of greatest concern, the operations of NEWSVT’s Coventry landfill produce millions of gallons per year of PFAS laden leachate, which have all been discharged into Newport and Montpelier Waste Water Treatment Facilities, as well as Plattsburg, NY, and other permitted WWTFs in Vermont, and on into Vermont’s waters.

These facilities are incapable of treating PFAS. As the body of scientific evidence has exponentially proven, PFAS chemicals pose an ever-increasing threat to public health.

Reproductive effects, birth defects, and cancers of the liver and kidneys are just some of many negative health effects implicated in PFAS exposure.

Further, this class of chemicals may have no safe level for exposure and does not readily break down or become neutralized.

Instead, PFAS builds up in the water, causing greater and greater threat to drinking water sources.

PFAS bioaccumulate in the organisms that drink and live in the water, increasing the risk to public health and the environment at large.

Evidence also has emerged showing PFAS in WWTF sludge spread on agricultural lands increases the potential for contamination through runoff or in crops.

Millions of tons of sludge are returned to the landfill annually to further concentrate PFAS in leachate.

The link provided is to an article published in Waste Dive, an evidence-based waste industry publication, which places the Coventry landfill in a national context.

Our concerns for Vermont water quality (which also affects our neighbors in Quebec because the waters of Memphremagog and Champlain flow north) are concerns held by communities throughout the United States who are contending with similar waste industry threats to our public and environmental health.

Time is a-wasting to address the harmful effects of PFAS contamination in Vermont waters and in the U.S.

Not only must the manufacture of these chemicals and their use in manufacturing be banned, we must ensure that disposal of leachate into our rivers and lakes is stopped immediately.

Technology exists to capture the greatest percentage of PFAS in leachate.

It is expensive but compared to the cost of attempting to clean up after the fact it is cost-effective.

There is not a moment to spare. Clean water is life.

Toxic PFAS waste that lasts ‘forever’ poses financial, logistical challenges for landfills: https://bit.ly/34BcAhA

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