CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Commissioners requested in written correspondence Monday to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that it conduct a public meeting regarding the proposed construction of the Camp Hope Run Landfill in Boggs Township, according to Commissioner Joan Robinson-McMillen.
PA Waste LLC has proposed constructing a landfill that would be located on an 845-acre facility boundary along state Route 153. It would be double-lined and able to receive 5,000 tons of waste daily for the next 25 years, according to previous GantDaily.com reports.
In an Aug. 31 letter, the DEP notified the county that it had completed the Environmental Assessment Process for PA Waste’s application for a new municipal waste landfill in Boggs Township. The DEP evaluated the information contained in the application and determined the benefits of the proposal had outweighed the known or potential harms, according to Commissioner Chairman John A. Sobel.
During the Sept. 11 board meeting, Sobel said the permit process would proceed with the technical review of the information contained in the application. He said the DEP may perform additional balancing of the benefits and harms during the technical review of the application if additional information not previously considered should come to the DEP’s attention.
After Tuesday’s regular board meeting, Robinson-McMillen said the commissioners continue to have concerns about the DEP’s decision. She said they’re even more concerned about how quickly the DEP has recently proceeded with the proposed landfill permit without any acknowledgment of the county’s concerns.
The commissioners stated their concerns in a Sept. 12 GantDaily.com report. Robinson-McMillen said the county sits right along Interstate 80 and if constructed, it would generate the additional traffic of 250 trucks, six days per week. She said these trucks would be coming off I-80 at exit 120, traveling down state Route 879, which she noted is a scenic byway.
From there, she said the trucks would travel across the SR 879 bypass off Park Avenue Extension and pass by the Lawrence Park Village Apartment Complex en route to Boggs Township. She said this raises concerns because there would be children who are getting on and off school buses at the apartment complex.
“Lawrence Township is going to be more affected than Boggs Township,” she said. “The township and county are going to bear the burden. And, people who are shopping at Lowe’s and Wal-Mart are going to be weaving in and out of truck traffic.”
Commissioner Mark B. McCracken said this board and the previous board have been steadfast in their opposition and will continue to be. Like Robinson-McMillen, he voiced concerns related to the influx in truck traffic.
According to him, a traffic study hasn’t been conducted and if the landfill is constructed, there would be dangers on SR 879 off I-80, where there are new restaurants and hotels in Lawrence Township.
“This is already a congested area,” he said.
McCracken also expressed concerns about it creating even more congestion in the areas of the I-80 on and off ramps; the U.S. Route 322 on ramp to SR 879; the trucks climbing the hill along the SR 879 bypass; and the SR 879/Park Avenue Extension off ramp. He said significant upgrades would be required to Park Avenue Extension.
“I think the fact it’s a scenic byway should have been considered. It’s a total disregard to the Lawrence Township area,” he said. He pointed out that the county had recently completed its 10-year update to its municipal solid waste management plan and properly advertised such. He said PA Waste didn’t submit a proposal.
“There’s no benefit to Clearfield County because they’re not in our plan,” he said. “There’s no trash disposal benefit for the county for at least 10 years.”
According to McCracken, PA Waste doesn’t have any compliance history, which raises serious concerns about its ability to ever operate a landfill. Plus, he said there isn’t any need for additional landfill space in central Pennsylvania.
Robinson-McMillen said if constructed, the proposed landfill isn’t going to hold waste from Clearfield County. She said it would be hauled in from New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.
“You have to ask why they would want to truck four-and-a-half to five hours to Clearfield County to dispose of waste. Why is that? Why are we allowing it? she asked. McCracken replied, “If we had a vote, we wouldn’t.”
On Tuesday, McCracken said the county presented the DEP with information years ago that outlined their concerns and the potential harms if the Camp Hope Run Landfill would be constructed in Boggs Township. He said these documents have been removed from the package of information that’s being reviewed by the DEP.
In addition, he said they were verbally advised that the landfill proposal has been transferred from the DEP’s Williamsport office to the main office located in Harrisburg. Robinson-McMillen said this typically isn’t standard procedure for the DEP and it appears this permit application is on what she described as “the fast track.”
However, when contacted Tuesday morning by GantDaily.com, the DEP issued this statement:
“The department approved the Environmental Assessment (harms vs. benefits) for this proposed landfill on Aug. 31 and is now engaged in our technical review of the municipal waste landfill permit application, which will eventually result in a decision to approve or deny the permit,” said Daniel Spadoni, community relations coordinator.
“There was never a transfer of this application review from Harrisburg to Williamsport. The application was originally submitted to the DEP Northcentral Regional Office in Williamsport as required and it has remained here. I cannot be [any] clearer than that.”
County Solicitor Kim Kesner said the DEP has not been communicating with the county and providing answers to its direct questions. He said obviously, the commissioners are a stakeholder and in the past, they have engaged in “informal discussions” regarding their concerns with representatives of the DEP office in Williamsport.
Kesner said the commissioners were surprised by the Aug. 31 letter in which DEP advised it had found the benefits had outweighed the harms. McCracken said in Williamsport, the DEP officials had their own concerns so far as where the waste would be coming from to be disposed of in Boggs Township.
Kesner said the DEP originally denied the PA Waste permit application based on “suitability.” He said that the DEP had acknowledged that there was already “too much landfill capacity” in Pennsylvania, which resulted in “heightened scrutiny.”
“There was so much going to be hurting Pennsylvania,” he said. Kesner said PA Waste appealed the DEP’s denial to the state’s Environmental Hearing Board, where the judge overruled the DEP’s decision, as it applied a regulation that had been amended.
“It was dormant after that. We didn’t hear anything and then we get this letter. It was a surprise,” said Robinson-McMillen. She said at one point, the commissioners had scheduled a meeting with DEP officials to discuss their concerns, which the DEP canceled.
Robinson-McMillen said the DEP hasn’t responded to the county’s response for a public meeting.