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DEP Suspends Keystone Landfill’s Settlement Accommodation Plan

DEP follows up on hundreds of community odor complaints, takes action to protect Pennsylvanians.

11/22/2023

Wilkes-Barre, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has suspended Keystone Sanitary Landfill’s (KSL) plan to add waste to previously capped areas of the landfill due to numerous odor complaints received and the routine confirmation of landfill gas odors offsite by DEP staff. Since October 1st, the DEP has received more than 200 odor complaints from the public, and during its response to those complaints, DEP staff have regularly observed landfill-related odors off KSL’s property.

“Over the last several weeks, DEP has frequently confirmed offsite odors related to KSL operations, and the impact the odors can have on residents is very concerning to the Department,” said DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley. “When a permit is issued, DEP expects compliance with the conditions to minimize impacts on residents. Every Pennsylvanian deserves access to clean air and clean water, and that’s why DEP is issuing this suspension and holding the company accountable for their actions.”

The suspension is in regard to the landfill’s Settlement Accommodation Plan (SAP) that DEP approved in February 2021 through a minor modification to the landfill’s existing operating permit. The existing cover was removed from the top of already settled waste, and additional waste was added to those areas. The landfill implemented the SAP to reclaim lost air space due to natural settlement. DEP has determined that KSL has been unable to maintain compliance with that plan, specifically for controlling landfill gas odors, during the course of that work.

DEP has based its suspension decision on the significant volume of odor complaints, the regular observation of landfill gas odors offsite, and the results of DEP’s November 16, 2023 inspection. During that inspection, DEP staff conducted surface methane emission scans of several areas of the landfill and determined that the SAP area had moderate to strong landfill gas odors as compared to other areas of the landfill that had been scanned. The landfill gas in this area had a much more pungent odor, similar to that of leachate.

DEP is requesting KSL submit a plan to mitigate the landfill gas odors in the areas noted in the inspection report by December 1, 2023. More information on the suspension can be found on DEP’s website.

KSL is in the process of re-capping the open areas referenced in DEP’s suspension letter while they develop a mitigation plan which addresses DEP’s concerns.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, please visit DEP’s website, or follow DEP on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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