Scranton Landfill Request for More Shale Cuttings Approved

Exactly one month ago MDN reported that Keystone Sanitary Landfill, a privately owned and operated municipal solid waste landfill located in Dunmore, PA (a Scranton suburb), had applied to increase the daily volume of shale cuttings (leftover rock waste from drilling) from 600 to 1,000 tons per day. They also requested from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) a change so they could receive the cuttings in an “unprocessed or unsolidified form” (see this MDN story).

The Keystone landfill has been receiving already-processed cuttings, where drillers mix the cuttings with lime or sawdust. But Keystone wants to receive the cuttings in an unprocessed state and add their own lime to it so the end product, which they spread over the top of the landfill each night, is more uniform. And also of course because it’s more attractive to drillers (i.e. brings in more business for Keystone).

Local municipal leaders were concerned that an increase in the volume of shale cuttings at the landfill may result in chemical run-off into the local community and lobbied for a slow-down in the approval process. But the DEP has moved forward and has granted Keystone’s request.

DEP approved the landfill’s permit request, which will also allow disposal of up to 1,000 tons daily of the drill cuttings and processing of the material on-site at a specialized mill, DEP spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said.

In the past, Keystone had accepted about 600 tons of the cuttings daily and depended on drillers to get the waste ready for disposal on their own.

Keystone can now move forward with the plan under the permit modification approved by DEP on Friday, Ms. Connolly and Throop Borough Council President Thomas Lukasewicz said.

…Mr. Lukasewicz said he remains unconvinced that the cuttings are benign and is still awaiting word on the borough’s own tests of the cuttings through an independent lab.

"The environmental concern I have is still there," he said. "My concern will be everlasting."

Mr. Lukasewicz said DEP rushed the permit approval through too quickly and ignored the borough’s request to wait until its own tests of the cuttings are examined first.*

*The Scranton Times Tribune (Mar 6, 2012) – DEP allows Keystone to move forward with Marcellus Shale waste plan