Letter, Opinion

Stop importing waste

Dear Editor,

In 2021 with the passage of Act 34, Vermont took a small step toward reducing the toxic class of chemicals known as PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) which are allowed to be sold, manufactured, and imported into our state. Act 34 bans select PFAS-containing products like stain-resistant rugs/carpets, food packaging and ski wax. Act 34 will eventually prohibit the manufacture, sale and distribution of Class B firefighting foam containing PFAS (foams used by the military are exempt).

However, a ban on these few products represents only a tiny portion of the PFAS that is imported, distributed, and disposed of in Vermont. For example, many materials used in the construction and manufacturing industries that utilize substances containing PFAS. A few examples include plumbing supplies, roofing materials, paint, lacquers, flooring, sealants and adhesives, glass, fabrics, wires/cables, tape, timber-derived products, solar panels, car wash waxes, electroplating and printing inks. The list goes on and on.

The waste from these Vermont industries is sent to the landfill in Coventry and add significant amounts of PFAS to the landfill leachate (a.k.a. “garbage juice”) that is trucked to various municipal wastewater treatment plants, where the toxic PFAS passes right through the treatment process and is discharged into our waterways and dumped on our land. To make matters even more unacceptable, the landfill routinely imports thousands of tons of PFAS-laden construction and demolition waste, as well as sewage sludge, from other nearby states! As a member of the environmental organization DUMP (Don’t Undermine Memphremagog’s Purity), I am horrified.

In 2020 alone, the landfill in Coventry accepted over 24,000 tons of imported sludge and over 15,000 tons of imported construction and demolition waste, as stated in the quarterly disposal, recycling and composting facility reports submitted in 2020 by the staff at the only active landfill in Vermont, New England Waste Services of Vermont (owned by the Casella Corporation). These out of state volumes far exceed those same waste types produced in Vermont. We are importing poison for the profit of a large corporation. Some of our dedicated legislators have introduced bills to combat the import of toxic waste. Please support them. Polluting Vermont’s beautiful natural resources with toxic garbage from other states is outrageous and must be banned.

Teresa Gerade, Newport City

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