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DEP Approves Keystone Landfill Expansion in Lackawanna County

06/03/2021

Wilkes-Barre, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that it has approved the application by Keystone Sanitary Landfill, Inc. (KSL) to expand its facility in the boroughs of Dunmore and Throop in Lackawanna County.  This major modification of their existing permit allows Keystone to expand on 435 acres within the existing permitted area of the landfill and increase its disposal capacity by 145 million cubic yards. The current permit will be up for renewal in 2025.

“This application has generated a large amount of public interest, and we appreciate the involvement of those who feel this decision will impact them. We received more than a thousand public comments,” said Mike Bedrin, director of DEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre. “DEP has done a thorough and extensive review of the application and determined that it meets the regulatory requirements for approval.”

The Phase III expansion modification issued by DEP contains specific conditions that are protective of public health, safety, and the environment. The permit also contains conditions to ensure that the benefits KSL is to provide to the local community are realized.

Keystone filed its original expansion application in April 2014. During the review process, DEP hosted two public meetings, one in February of 2015 at Dunmore High School and a second in June of 2015, at Mid-Valley High School, to answer questions from the public about the permit application. DEP also hosted a public hearing in July 2016 to take questions from residents about the application. Throughout its review, DEP has accepted and considered approximately 1,500 comments regarding the expansion and has prepared a comment/response document addressing these comments.

In April 2015, DEP hosted a public meeting and an open house with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to listen to resident’s concerns about the effects the landfill and its expansion could have on their health. In 2016, the DOH, in conjunction with DEP and ATSDR, began a public health assessment to address concerns regarding the potential health impacts related to the operation of KSL in close proximity to the Boroughs of Dunmore and Throop. The study began in January of 2016 and continued through April 2016, during which time air quality sampling by DEP and analysis by DOH and ATSDR was conducted. In January 2018, all three agencies held a public meeting to share the results of the study with residents.  In April 2019, DOH issued a final Health Consultation Report in response to the community’s concerns about harmful environmental exposures from the landfill. The report concluded that no long-term public health risk exists for residents living near the landfill. However, the Department of Health made several recommendations and DEP has developed several special conditions to include in the Phase III expansion approval directly related to recommendations.

In the first part of the review of the application, DEP reviewed the impacts, in terms of harms or benefits, the expansion could have. In July 2019, DEP approved the Environmental Assessment (EA) and determined that “the benefits of the proposed expansion outweighed the known harms.”

In April 2020, DEP began its technical review of Keystone’s permit application. As part of that review, two deficiency letters were sent, and Keystone responded to both. The information contained in these responses allowed DEP to make its final decision to issue the major modification.

Simultaneous with this permitting action, the Wolf administration is working with the General Assembly to propose an amendment to the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act to require the agreement of host municipalities prior to the approval of future major waste facility expansions. Under existing law, municipalities are authorized to negotiate agreements for a host fee to be paid to the municipality.

A copy of Keystone Landfill’s expansion approval, including the comment/response document, can be found on DEP’s Northeast Regional Office Community Information Page:  https://www.dep.pa.gov/About/Regional/Northeast-Regional-Office/Community%20Information/Pages/Keystone%20Landfill%20Expansion.aspx

MEDIA CONTACT:  Colleen Connolly, 570-826-2035 (office); 570-592-2688 (mobile)
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