Quebec and Vermont activists continue crusade against Memphremagog forever chemicals

Quebec and Vermont activists continue crusade against Memphremagog forever chemicals

Spokesperson for political roundtable declines interview

By Jack Wilson

Local Journalism Initiative


Don’t Undermine Memphremagog’s Purity (DUMP), a Vermont-based advocacy group has teamed up with two other American organizations in its fight against a drainpipe it says is bringing polluted waters into Lake Memphremagog. The pipe runs from an older section of the Coventry Landfill and contains PFAS (“forever chemicals”), arsenic and cadmium, DUMP asserts.

About 175,000 Townshippers drink water originating from Lake Memphremagog. A 2019 moratorium halted the landfill’s practice of transporting leachate from the dump to a wastewater treatment facility in Newport, Vt. where it would then be discharged into the lake. That moratorium was the result of similar PFAS concerns and expires in 2026. But the drainpipe in question continues to send waters into the international water body.

In April 2022, DUMP filed a petition with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, asking whether the drainpipe required a permit under the U.S. Clean Water Act. In May, the agency ruled the landfill didn’t require a permit. DUMP has since challenged that decision and two other organizations – the Conservation Law Fund and the Vermont Natural Resources Council – have applied to join the legal action.

Ed Stanak, of DUMP’s advisory committee, said the group is prepared to appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court or file a suit in federal court should this attempt fail. Casella, the company operating the dump, has plans to treat the water for PFAS and resume sending it toward the lake once the moratorium expires. With the intention of stopping that plan in its tracks, DUMP is also pursuing the legislative route. “We’re trying to force a change in the law that would prohibit any treatment of leachate in the watershed of Lake Memphremagog,” he said.

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