Scranton Suburb Ends Objection to Shale Cuttings at Landfill

Opposition from a local township to a landfill outside of Scranton, PA that sought and was granted a permit to accept more shale cuttings has ended. Keystone Sanitary Landfill, a privately owned and operated municipal solid waste landfill located in Dunmore, PA 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 the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) change their permit so they could receive the cuttings in an “unprocessed or unsolidified form” (see this MDN story).

The cuttings are milled and lime is added to make it more solid and the end product is used as a covering over top of the landfill each night. The landfill is located in Throop borough, a Scranton suburb. Borough council members filed an appeal with the DEP objecting to the increased volume and changes, concerned that rainwater washing through the cuttings would eventually make its way into local groundwater. In March, Throop borough council President Thomas Lukasewicz expressed deep concerns about increasing the volume of cuttings at the landfill:

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.(1)

Mr. Lukasewicz’s concern may be everlasting, but his official opposition to the revised permit for Keystone Sanitary is not. Mr. Lukasewicz and the Throop council voted to end a threatened appeal of the permit at their meeting last night:

…Marcellus Shale waste at the Keystone Sanitary Landfill no longer has opposition after borough council reluctantly agreed to withdrawal [of] an appeal Monday.

The decision to end the appeal process was made to prevent expending additional borough resources, according to council President Thomas Lukasewicz.

"I think we’re at the end of the crossroads," he said. "I hate to say it, but I think it’s a waste if we have to spend time, money and effort on an appeal."

Although he has been outspoken in his efforts to prevent the expansion of the landfill and increased deposits, there was not enough support to justify continued financial support of the opposition.

"You can’t fight if no one wants to join the fight," Mr. Lukasewicz said.

The council now hopes the mill, which agreed to limitations on volume accepted, and the Department of Environmental Protection, which will perform monthly checks, will keep the borough in mind.

"Our next job is to make sure they operate within the parameters of those permits," Councilman Tony Gangemi said.

Although they are ending their involvement for now, Mr. Lukasewicz said he and the council will still be watching.(2)

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

(2) The Scranton Times Tribune (May 1, 2012) – Throop withdraws appeal of Marcellus Shale waste mill; longtime VP resigns