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On Town Meeting Day, Derby Voters Will Weigh In On Coventry Landfill Expansion

A man stands above a landfill pit.
Jane Lindholm
VPR File
On Town Meeting Day, Derby residents will vote on a non-binding referendum on whether to officially oppose a 51-acre expansion of the Coventry landfill - pictured here in 2015.

Among the many items on Town Meeting Day ballots this year, at least one will be watched closely on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. Residents of Derby will vote on a nonbinding referendum on whether to officially oppose an expansion of Vermont's only operating landfill.

Robin Smith, a reporter for the Orleans County Record and the Caledonian Record, told VPR that Casella Waste Systems — which owns the Coventry landfill — still needs to receive an Act 250 permit amendment from the District 7 Environmental Commission in order to pursue its 51-acre expansion plan.

Listen above to Robin Smith's conversation with VPR's Mitch Wertlieb about the Town Meeting Day vote.

Smith said Quebec residents are concerned that leachate — runoff liquid from the landfill — will be drained into Lake Memphremagog, a source of drinking water for thousands of people north of the border. That leachate has been shown to have PFAS chemicals in it, which may cause health issues such as cancer.  

If the landfill is not granted its expansion, Smith said, there's a process for shutting it down — and should that closure happen, then garbage may need to be shipped out of state which would increase waste disposal fees.

Derby residents will vote on the referendum on March 5.

Meanwhile, the city council in nearby Newport decided against putting related nonbinding referenda on their ballot this Town Meeting Day. Smith said that's because Newport wants to work together with Casella on improving how the leachate is treated.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Bayla joined VPR in 2018 as the producer for Morning Edition. She left in 2019.
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