Letter: What communities can do about PFAS and other waste problems

To the editor: Just a note to alert folks that technologies exist that can help mitigate the presence of PFAS here and elsewhere. (“These three Berkshires water systems were shut down due to PFAS ‘forever chemicals,'” Eagle, May 18.)

These technologies destroy PFAs while processing nonrecyclable waste in an environmentally friendly manner. Toxins are sequestered in a limestone aggregate while green hydrogen is extracted for emission free power production. Trace quantities of nitrous oxide are the only emissions.

Organizations stand ready to implement these processes locally to help mitigate the growing waste crisis in Western Massachusetts. With the recent failure of two waste-to-energy plants in Pittsfield and Agawam, local communities are now forced to transport nonrecyclable trash, including sewage sludge, to other states (New York, Vermont and even South Carolina). Transporting PFAS-containing nonrecyclable waste to other locations does not solve the toxicity problem; it only moves it to our neighbor’s yard.

Processing this waste locally saves energy, reduces emissions, reduces volume and eliminates toxic PFAS from the environment. This technology has been successfully commercialized elsewhere and is ready to be deployed in Western Mass. This work will help decarbonize society and promote a sustainable economy.

While the ultimate solution to waste is reduction, reuse and recycling of materials, we must also meet the continued need for responsible disposal of up to 70 or higher percent of waste that is still discarded today. Western Massachusetts is facing a waste crisis, as local incinerators are shut down, hauling fees are going up and waste is dumped out of state, frequently in lower-income neighborhoods. Waste is also a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions and toxins in our air, water and soil from nonrecyclable landfill and sewer waste, including “forever chemicals” or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

David Wasielewski, Dalton

The writer is an environmental advocate, green infrastructure consultant and chair of the Dalton Green Committee.

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