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Friday, February 3, 2023

Environmental group appeals construction of PFAS treatment plant on Lake Memphremagog

NEWPORT — A proposed pollution treatment plant close to international Lake Mempremagog to treat toxic “forever” chemicals is being opposed by a grassroots environmental group. 

Don’t Undermine Memphremagog’s Purity (DUMP) has filed a formal appeal to the Vermont Environmental Court in opposition to the permit, issued last month, that is the first step toward a “pilot project” to be built near the private Casella landfill in Coventry. 

The proposed plant would pretreat toxic PFAS from the landfill’s leachate.

“The siting of the plant would allow a foot in the door for additional development of the landfill,”  said DUMP volunteer member Henry Coe. “It’s irresponsibly located at the edge of extensive wetlands.”

Coe says it’s a dangerous experiment that is lacking specifics.

“Even more disturbing, the site is close to the Black River, the main tributary to a northerly flowing international drinking water reservoir serving 175,000 Canadian neighbors,” Coe said. 

Traces of toxic PFAS chemicals have been found in the drinking water intake from the pumping site in Lake Memphremagog for the City of Sherbrooke, Quebec.

A Canadian grassroots group supports DUMP’s appeal to rescind the permit.  

“The international and universal environmental precaution principle is essential to the preservation of the quality and security of Lake Memphremagog’s drinking water,” said Johanne Lavoie, president of Memphremagog Conservation Inc., the oldest voluntary environmental organization in Quebec. “This is the reason that MCI is working with DUMP to act immediately, before it is too late.”

Landfill leachate is full of harmful chemicals, including PFAS.

They are called “forever” chemicals because they don’t break down and build up in concentration over time, becoming increasingly hazardous to the health of humans and wildlife.

DUMP member Peggy Stevens of Charleston, says this is the reason for the concerns expressed by so many about the siting of the pilot project near Lake Memphremagog. 

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