On September 13, 2023

Real danger to Memphremagog is hypocrisy and fearmongering

 

By John W. Casella

Editor’s note: John W. Casella is the chairman and CEO of Casella Waste Systems Inc.

From time to time, the good people of DUMP — Don’t Undermine Memphremagog’s Purity — gather in a room, wring their hands, and manufacture another round of hyperventilated boilerplate letters to the editor.  

While their intent is to blame the landfill in Coventry for all sorts of misery and mayhem in an effort to close this vital infrastructure, the effect is to continue to spread inaccuracies, confusion and hypocrisy. This most recent flurry of letters is also, to put it mildly, surprisingly tone-deaf.

Dozens of communities in Vermont are struggling to manage the impact of this summer’s catastrophic floods and depend on the landfill to help rid their streets and neighborhoods of debris and other threats to public health. This is a time for all Vermonters to come together, with aid and comfort for their fellow citizens and communities. 

One would think that the fundraiser that DUMP recently held would have been a tremendous opportunity to raise money for hardworking Vermonters in need of assistance after the recent natural disaster, but that was not the intent.  

For DUMP, this catastrophe presented a public relations opportunity that was too good to pass up, to push its agenda while others suffer. I would have hoped that we’d see a pause in these tactics, but I was disappointed. I’m sure the thousands of volunteers, local officials and displaced residents and businesses would scratch their heads as well.

I also continue to scratch my head over what appears to be DUMP’s biggest hypocrisy — its ongoing fight and appeals to stop our efforts, as part of our permit, to put in treatment systems at the landfill to remove PFAS from leachate.  

As we are all becoming more aware, PFAS chemicals are persistent compounds, widely used for decades in consumer products such as cookware, waterproof fabrics, food packaging and personal care products. When discarded, these products wind up in landfills, and a portion of the chemicals end up in leachate, which then requires treatment. 

One of the most important things we are doing is aggressively putting technologies in place to remove PFAS from landfill leachate before it is transported to a wastewater treatment plant.

Yet DUMP — for all its stated concerns about PFAS, water supplies and environmental health — stands stubbornly in the way of our efforts, undertaken with the support of the state of Vermont, to put this advanced treatment system in place. Its opposition to this project makes no sense, as the technology we will be installing is specifically designed to remove PFAS. 

It’s simple. This technology is an important step forward in strengthening the environmental protection capabilities of important infrastructure that all of Vermont relies upon. The challenge to DUMP is to stop obstructing this project, which will do more to protect Lake Memphremagog and Vermont’s natural environment than their constant fear-mongering.

We hold out hope that one day DUMP may cease to spread inaccuracies, confusion and hypocrisy. While we know that some people abhor the thought of landfills, we also believe that facts and science are rightly being held as a standard for discussions of public and environmental health and safety.

We are excited about the progress being made on our PFAS treatment pilot and look forward to continued progress and fact-based discussions with the people of Vermont. 

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