CLEARFIELD – Nearly every seat was filled and people stood in the back and along the walls at the Florian Banquet Hall during Monday night’s public meeting regarding the Camp Hope Run Landfill, proposed by PA Waste LLC, for Boggs Township.
The meeting was held by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in order to receive feedback regarding the application by PA Waste prior to DEP making a decision regarding the new application for the landfill.
This is the second application made by PA Waste regarding a landfill in the area, located off of state Route 153.
In addition to the comments made at the meeting, written comments will be accepted by postal mail or e-mail until 4 p.m. Aug. 3.
Those representing DEP included Dan Vilello, Patrick Brennan, Marcus Kohl and Megan Lehman, and the meeting was recorded by a court reporter.
Thirty-five people in total spoke during the meeting, both for and against the landfill. Nine people spoke in favor of the project while 26 spoke against.
County officials kicked off the speakers with Planning Director Jodi Brennan, who is also director of the Clearfield County Solid Waste Authority. She mentioned several items of concern, many of which would be echoed by others.
One item of concern broached by Brennan was the county’s waste management plan, which would become null and void if the landfill is approved, Brennan said.
She also noted that the items of concern DEP had for the first application now seem to be of no concern without any reason given. She said the interpretation of issues has changed even though the regulations regarding the application have not.
Clearfield County Commissioner Mark McCracken spoke and noted three issues, two of which would be addressed by others repeatedly in different forms. The first is traffic issues and safety.
McCracken said if DEP insists on going forward, the agency needs to look at rail access in order to reduce the amount of truck traffic on area roads.
McCracken also stated that the area is a known rattlesnake habitat, something the state Fish and Boat Commission has noted, and asked that DEP look into the effects of disturbing the habitat.
Third, McCracken stated concern that the benefits outlined by PA Waste may not manifest.
He noted that a recent lawsuit in Philadelphia County contained information regarding the Camp Hope Run landfill, stating the plan is to acquire the permits and then sell the landfill on the open market, and any promises made to residents or township officials may not be kept by any new owners.
Paul Bruder, who is serving as council for the commissioners in this matter, added that the promised $2 per ton fee PA Waste has promised to pay Boggs Township may no longer be valid because the agreement made stated that the fees would be void if PA Waste was unable to secure permits and they have been unable to since 2004.
Local engineer Richard Hughes also provided information echoed by others during the meeting. He first asked for a show of hands of those in opposition to the landfill, and the majority of those present raised their hands.
Later, another resident would take the vote further by asking for a show of hands from those who support the landfill, and only a small number of people raised their hands.
Hughes touched on several topics, but one item of importance was discussing the known tectonic fault line running through the proposed site. He said the fault allows water to flow into the sandstone formation below, which is the aquifer for a large portion of the county.
Hughes noted that “all dumps leak,” a sentiment repeated over and over by others, and noted that in 2009 the area experienced a tremor. He said the fault only needs to be agitated to become a real threat, and it is the fatal flaw in the plan.
From there others stood and spoke in opposition. Traffic concerns were raised, with many noting that there are already increased accidents along state Routes 879 and 153, and that the amount of traffic along the route for the waste trucks has increased in the past 18 years.
Blind spots along the route were also noted, as well and the increased number of young families in the area, resulting in more children and heavier bus traffic during the school year.
PA Waste has proposed constructing a wastewater treatment facility to deal with not only the seepage from the trash, but also local acid mine drainage.
Again residents questioned this, noting the lining of the landfill is designed to meet minimum standards and DEP allows for a certain amount of faults in the lining, so that even if fluid is treated, some of it would leak into local waterways.
Residents questioned why PA Waste neglected to address about 50 required items on their application.
Those who are in support of the landfill were accused of having financial gain, and one resident pointedly stated that if the application is approved, it points to corruption within DEP, telling the officials that the show of hands told them where the public opinion lies and, “Do your jobs.”
Fears regarding air quality were raised, illness, what happens when the life of the landfill is reached and other concerns.
The final comments came from a 13-year-old resident, Jacob Kendrick, who said he knows many people are unhappy, that he is concerned for what he will be left with in the future.
“I care about my community,” he said, asking that DEP deny the application.
Those speaking in favor of the landfill included several people who are partners in a hunting lease on the property. They talked about how illegal activities, such as poaching, illegal dumping, all-terrain vehicle use and so on have decreased thanks to PA Waste stepping in and working with them.
They each stated that PA Waste has been supportive, polite, helpful, respectful and responsive.
Two of those in support were Stephen and Robert Rovner, attorneys for PA Waste. They emphasized how the project is a state-of-the-art lined landfill that will benefit the area.
They cited proposed economic benefits, pointing to a landfill in Tullytown, Bucks County. They noted the jobs that would be created, not only at the landfill during and after construction, but spin-off jobs as well. They also noted the possibility of decreased taxes, both for local government and for the school districts.
Robert Rovner noted that the people have concerns and he appreciated their willingness to come to the meeting and express them.
He said one of the reasons for the meeting is to address the deficiencies and the company is spending millions to “get rid of” those deficiencies. He said the benefits will total $369 million for the community.
One supporter reminded residents that the garbage has to go somewhere and landfills are a necessary evil. Another cited statistics stating that landfill capacities in the state are shrinking and by the end of 2019 the state will face a capacity deficit in landfills, and the nation as a whole is seeing a decrease in landfills.
Further comments regarding the landfill may be submitted to DEP vial postal mail to Lisa Houser, P.E., DEP Waste Management Program, 208 W. Third St., Suite 101, Williamsport, PA 17701, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information regarding the Camp Hope Run landfill can be found online.