Residents give feedback on proposed Bulger landfill

June 24, 2014
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Emily Petsko / Observer-Reporter
Chad Coy, design engineer for MAX Environmental, gives a presentation Monday about the company’s proposal to expand its Bulger facility and construct a waste landfill. Order a Print
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A cross-section of a typical landfill
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A map of MAX Environmental's landfill plan

SLOVAN – Monday night marked the first step of what could be a five-year process to construct a waste landfill at a site in Bulger, Smith Township.

MAX Environmental, a waste treatment company that primarily deals with Marcellus Shale waste, held a public meeting in Slovan to get feedback from residents on its plan to build a 21-acre landfill capable of holding some hazardous wastes. The proposed landfill and two proposed waste treatment facilities would be located at the company’s current facility south of Route 22.

Some residents had more questions about the company’s current operations than its future plans. Pam Scruppi, who lives across from MAX’s site entrance, asked about the company’s plan to continue using a waste impoundment that originally was closed in 1980 after operating for 22 years.

It reopened in 2006, and MAX received an extension this year from the state Department of Environmental Protection to reclose the impoundment in five years and place a more permanent cap on it to prevent rainwater collection. In the meantime, the company plans to completely fill the 30-acre impoundment with residual waste and cap sections of the impoundment as they are filled.

Scruppi said it concerns her that the impoundment has only a leachate collection system at the base, but not a liner underneath.

“That doesn’t seem very safe to me,” she said. “That doesn’t make me feel good because it’s an old site, and you’re adding four years of stuff to it, and I’m like crosswind from all this where I live.”

Carl Spadaro, environmental manager for MAX, said the soil is so compacted that new waste is not settling to the bottom.

The proposed landfill would be double-lined with a geosynthetic clay liner in between, in addition to a leak-detection system and groundwater-monitoring wells. It would be capable of holding “characteristically hazardous” wastes that have been treated and solidified, including waste soils, debris from brownfield site development and road expansions, oil and gas drilling waste, slag, and used acids and caustic solutions.

“There are materials like sandblast materials or remediation soils that may have lead at levels that will leach out above the (Environmental Protection Agency) or DEP definition of hazardous,” Spadaro said. “We have the capability and the know-how to treat that kind of material so it doesn’t leach.”

MAX would not be permitted to accept flammable or combustible materials, reactive wastes, organic chemicals, biological waste or nuclear waste. The company, which is preparing its permit application to the DEP, wants to increase the level of naturally occurring radiation it can accept to match the standard at other landfills in Pennsylvania.

The company also is negotiating a potential property lease agreement with TerrAqua Resource Management, which would enable MAX to accept fracking wastewater that would be recycled by TerrAqua.

According to MAX, the expanded facility would generate about $1 million in benefit fees to Smith Township over a 10-year period.

If the company’s permit is approved, the DEP will host a public hearing for Smith Township residents.

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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