CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to have their attorney appeal the state Department of Environmental Protection’s decision to issue a permit to PA Waste LLC for the construction/operation of the Camp Hope Run landfill in Boggs Township.
PA Waste is proposing a 5,000 tons per day, double-lined, municipal waste landfill. The proposed landfill and supporting facilities will be located within an 845-acre facility boundary.
The permit was issued Jan. 28 following a public hearing, local municipal involvement process and extensive technical and environmental review, according to a previously-published DEP news release.
The Municipal Waste Permit requires that the facility be constructed and begin operation within five years of the date of issuance, or the permit will be voided.
In addition, DEP will continue to perform technical review on other permits, which must be obtained prior to construction of the facility.
The proposed landfill and supporting facilities will be located about seven miles southeast of Clearfield, along the west side of state Route 153 in Boggs Township.
The waste disposal limits will encompass about 217 acres, with support facilities and buffer areas within the remainder of the overall facility boundary.
Dozens of citizens against the proposed landfill attended Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting, and argued that it would cause environmental issues and also bring excessive and potentially dangerous truck traffic into the area.
Ronald Hoover said he lives near a dangerous intersection that’s about two miles from the landfill site. “One person has already been killed there.”
“Those truck [drivers] aren’t going to go 45 miles per hour,” he said. “I know that, and you know that. There’s going to be all that traffic – 250 trucks per day – both ways.”
Jim Catalano agreed “100 percent” saying there would be 250 garbage trucks on top of school buses and the neighborhood coal trucks. He said undoubtedly that there would be “hell to pay” if a child is hurt in a crash.
Peggy Fletcher said she travels by Lawrence Park Village to her home on Clover Hill Road, and often sees young families pushing baby strollers with their other small children.
“I just have this vision of those trucks coming through there, someone’s not going to stop and it’s going to be a disaster,” Fletcher said.
Colin Howell said traffic is already “dicey” enough on a “normal day” where he lives on Litz Bridge, and the extra weight of the garbage trucks would also quickly cause “wear and tear” on roads.
“This isn’t Interstate 80,” Howell, who has a background in construction, said, adding that “it wasn’t built to be I-80.”
Jim Kling, representing Clearfield Borough, indicated that two previous councils have voted to oppose the landfill due to the threat it poses to the safety of the community.
He said the potential for increased traffic through the borough would require the dispatch of its street personnel and volunteers to direct the flow of traffic.
“It’s going to create quite an impact on Clearfield Borough, itself,” Kling said, “and I’m really surprised that there aren’t more municipalities concerning themselves about this.”
He said if one bad load would overturn along Park Avenue, it could end up in the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and, in turn, pollute the waters downstream.
Those opposing the landfill had traffic-related concerns confirmed by retired state trooper Bill McCauley, who used to deal with garbage trucks traveling from New Jersey to Ohio daily.
“… If you believe the fairytale, they’re telling you … that the trucks will go the speed limit, carry the same weights, then visit Alice in Wonderland,” he said.
He said the increased truck traffic would put stress on Clearfield specifically in the area of I-80 out to the Clearfield Bypass. This, he said, would in turn create a traffic hazard for local motorists, and increase the workload of the Lawrence Township police.
McCauley said the state’s Motor Carrier Safety Unit would likely have to conduct regular checks, which would be “necessary” for public safety. “This is going to be a big mess – traffic-wise. It’s just going to be a disaster.”
Following the lengthy public comment period, Commissioner Chairman Tony Scotto said he was personally “disappointed” in the DEP’s decision to issue the landfill permit to PA Waste.
He said the commissioners had consulted with their attorney and Planning & Solid Waste Authority Director Jodi Brennan, and they were in agreement that the DEP “glossed over” their objections.
Scotto said the DEP also completely ignored the severe impact the proposed landfill would have on the county’s solid waste plan, especially its recycling program.
Commissioner John A. Sobel said though he “fretted” over costs for an appeal and potential expert witnesses, he said the majority of the county’s citizens oppose the landfill. “It boils down to money versus intangibles.
“There’s all sorts of promises [from PA Waste] of big amounts of dollars, but there’s an awful lot of people who like … nature in their backyard … clean water and air … and no hustle and bustle like the city, no pollution, no traffic.”
Sobel said when he took all those factors into consideration, he strongly believed that the county should appeal the DEP’s decision to the Environmental Hearing Board.
Newly-elected Commissioner Dave Glass said he’s also opposed to the landfill, having grown up along Clearfield Creek. He said as a kid, the creek was so polluted he couldn’t swim in it, and his family couldn’t feed their cows, chickens and horses with the water.
“We ran out of water every single summer because we didn’t have potable water,” he said. “Most people don’t know what it’s like to live without drinkable water, but I do.
With Clearfield Creek cleaned up, “I have no desire to see Little Clearfield with a polluted strip. I think the DEP completely failed … and glossed over almost every issue that had any real question about this landfill.”
Glass said there wasn’t any question that the county had to appeal the DEP’s decision because it was ridiculous. He said he was 100 percent in opposition because he’s “lived it.”
The commissioners then voted unanimously, 3-0, to have their attorney file the appeal, which was applauded by the dozens of citizens in attendance.
County Solicitor Heather Bozovich said the appeal process itself could take well over a year, and it’s likely the EHB wouldn’t issue its ruling on the county’s appeal for roughly two years.
According to previously-published GANT News articles, PA Waste of Feasterville, Bucks County, originally submitted its landfill permit application to the DEP in September of 2006.
The first permit proposed for a new, double-lined 221-acre municipal waste landfill. It was proposed to accept 5,000 tons per day of municipal waste per day, and was to operate for about 25 years.
The landfill application passed the harms-versus-benefits phase of the permit application process with the state Department of Environmental Protection.
However, in 2013 during the technical review portion of the application process, the DEP determined the landfill application had 71 deficiencies and gave PA Waste three months to address the issues.
The deficiencies identified by DEP included the lack of a traffic study, the wetland review was not completed, soil information had not yet been submitted and the DEP wanted additional data supporting the landfill would not contaminate the groundwater in the area.
After several deadline extensions, DEP rejected the application in April of 2015. The company filed an appeal to the ruling to the Environmental Hearing Board. In spring of 2016, PA Waste withdrew both its appeal and its original permit application for the proposed landfill.
PA Waste then submitted a new Phase I Waste Management Application to DEP on June 30, 2017 and the Phase II application on Feb. 26, 2018.
Local residents can click here to keep informed on the proposed landfill’s progress through the DEP Web site.