Vermont landfill sends leachate out of state following E. coli contamination
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Vermont landfill sends leachate out of state following E. coli contamination

The Casella-owned landfill has been sending a majority of its leachate to Plattsburgh, New York, and the rest to Franklin, New Hampshire.

A wastewater treatment facility in Vermont has stopped accepting leachate from the only operating landfill in the state due to high levels of E. coli found in the liquid waste.

In late April, the Montpelier Waste Resource Recovery Facility discovered an influx of E. coli in the plant’s effluent system, which violated its permit. Since then, the Coventry landfill—owned by Rutland, Vermont-based Casella—has been trucking a majority of its leachate produced in the state to Plattsburgh, New York, and the rest to Franklin, New Hampshire.

Chris Cox, chief operating officer at the Montpelier facility, told VTDigger.org that he is not sure when the city will be able to accept leachate again, adding that his team is currently working with Casella and the consulting engineering firm Brown and Caldwell to determine the source of the problem.

On April 20, Cox says officials found E. coli levels of 190 colony forming units (CFU) per 100 milligrams, and the permitted limit is 77 CFU. That level remains below what the state considers safe for swimming, which is 235 CFU, Cox adds.

Officials later determined that leachate was the source of the problem, with E. coli levels dropping dramatically soon after the flow of leachate into the facility stopped.

Joe Fusco, vice president at Casella Waste Systems, told VTDigger.org he was not aware of problems with the leachate, and the incident has not posed a “significant obstacle for the company.”

While the company’s pretreatment discharge permit regulates the quality of leachate leaving the landfill, VTDigger.org reports it is difficult to determine whether that permit could be relevant to the incident because officials do not yet know what caused the problem at the treatment facility.

Components of the leachate are “based on what's sent to the landfill in the first place,” Fusco says.

Fusco indicated that the facility might accept leachate again in the coming weeks, but Cox says he couldn’t confirm that timeline. The Montpelier facility is currently waiting on a report from Brown and Caldwell to “explain how, if possible, [the facility] will continue to take leachate.”