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Coventry Waste Management Site

 February 23, 2014

Update on the Coventry Waste Management Site

On April 1, 2013 New England Waste Services of Vermont (NEWSVT) applied for a Land Use Permit to increase its waste acceptance rate at the solid waste landfill, from maximum 370,000 tons per year to 600,000 tons per year. Following a regulatory assessment which included an environmental and public review, known as ACT 250, the Natural Resources Board District 7 Environmental Commission issued the Land Use Permit on November 19, 2013. This permit merely allows for a potential increase in the rate of operations as no new or expanded cells to take on more garbage were involved. As a result, the site might close sooner than its projected life of 10 to 15 years estimated under the previous permit. So why should we care?

Operated by Casella Waste Systems, the Coventry landfill site is the largest waste management facility in the State of Vermont. It is located adjacent to Black River, the principal tributary of Lake Memphremagog. Over the years MCI watched with alarm as the operations of New England Waste Services of Vermont Inc (NEWSVT) has gradually increased. Its starting capacity of 270,000 tonnes per year was raised to 370,000 by 2005 and to 600,000 tonnes per year last November, almost twice the previous rate.

MCI has consistently opposed the Coventry operations. Located as it is upstream from approximately 160,000 people in Vermont and Quebec who depend on the watershed for drinking water, MCI believes that the facility represents a real and potential danger and never should have been permitted to exist, given that parts of its 45 hectare operation are located within 300 feet of the Black River and contain some wetlands. A catastrophic operational failure or natural event from flooding or an earthquake would have disastrous consequences on the lake and the populace.

For MCI, the doubling of the rate of operations per year is an unwelcome step in a series of steps that have seen the gradual growth of a potentially hazardous facility that might adversely affect the water quality of our lake and the lives of 160,000 people. In MCI's view, the Coventry waste management facility should be shut down. Instead of increasing operations, the state would benefit from the introduction of a more comprehensive recycling programme. Such a programme is intended in the near future. MCI hopes for a successful legislative outcome for this initiative and gives it its full support. To quote from the Toxic Action Centre Report of 2005, "By stopping the construction and expansion of unsafe waste facilities we can protect our communities and focus our waste management strategies on reducing, reusing and recycling our waste."

Tom Kovacs, Vice-President


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