CLEARFIELD – During the public comment session of Monday night’s Clearfield school board meeting, resident Marven Smith asked the district to oppose the proposed Camp Hope Run Landfill in Boggs Township.
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.
The state’s Department of Environmental Protection will conduct a public hearing regarding the proposed landfill at 7 p.m. tonight at the Lighthouse Evangelical Church in West Decatur. Smith said that all three Clearfield County Commissioners and State Rep. Tommy Sankey will attend the hearing.
Smith asked the board to address the dangers the landfill would pose to school students because of the additional truck traffic. Board members Jennifer Wallace and Rick Schickling agreed to represent the school board at the meeting. Schickling said he had already planned to attend the meeting.
For him Smith said the proposed landfill has become “personal,” and he’s fought it from the beginning. He resides on Eighth Street near the state Route 879 bypass. Smith described the current truck traffic as “unbelievable” with about 1,000 trucks coming off Interstate 80 and down SR 879 every day.
“And now, we’re talking about an extra 250 trucks per day on top of school buses,” he said. “I don’t want this landfill in our area. It will destroy this community. I’m hoping to fill that church.”
The DEP scheduled the public hearing after Commissioners John A. Sobel and Joan Robinson-McMillen went to its offices in Williamsport in December. In November, the commissioners had written the DEP to request that it conduct a public hearing for the proposed landfill.
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 Sobel.
During a Sept. 11 commissioners 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 a Nov. 13 commissioners meeting, Robinson-McMillen said they continued to have concerns about the DEP’s decision. She said they were even more concerned about how quickly the DEP had 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 of commissioners 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 then that the county had 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 even 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.”