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DEP Holds Keystone Sanitary Landfill Accountable for Odor Concerns, Reaches Settlement on Civil Penalty & Requires Keystone to Immediately Begin Mitigating Odors

DEP will continue monitoring and responding to complaints to ensure Keystone complies with the agreement and reduces odors at the landfill.

04/01/2024

Wilkes-Barre, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has entered a Consent Order and Agreement (COA) with Keystone Sanitary Landfill for odor violations, including creating malodors, at its facility in the boroughs of Dunmore and Throop between November 2022 and February 2024, and impacting residents in several surrounding communities. The $575,000 civil penalty is the largest penalty DEP has issued to Keystone Sanitary Landfill in the last decade.

Under the agreement, DEP has ordered Keystone to take corrective action to mitigate the potential for off-site odors from its leachate lagoons. Some of those measures include utilizing foam, implementing a new intermediate cover system, and submitting to the department a permit modification for the installation of two 2,500,000-gallon leachate storage tank systems. DEP has also directed the landfill to re-evaluate the effectiveness of its Reverse Osmosis (RO) system for treating leachate and make any necessary modifications. Under the agreement, Keystone is also required to mitigate landfill gas odors from the site. Keystone must implement additional surface monitoring and follow an accelerated capping schedule of at least 30 acres to minimize areas of intermediate cover.

A $575,000 civil penalty will be split between DEP and the boroughs of Dunmore and Throop. DEP will receive $180,000 from the COA, plus $35,000 for cost recovery. The $180,000 will be deposited into the Solid Waste Abatement Fund, which is a statewide fund set up to eliminate potential hazards related to solid waste. DEP also worked to ensure that the boroughs of Dunmore and Throop will each receive $180,000, which Keystone Landfill is required to deposit into a separate bank account for both parties. This money will be used to fund projects which substantially improve, protect, restore, or remediate the environment, or improve, protect, or reduce risks to the public health or safety. Keystone must make those deposits within 30 days.

“The Department of Environmental Protection made a commitment to residents to respond swiftly to address these odors and hold the responsible party accountable,” said DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley. “That’s why DEP worked around the clock to investigate the odors and ordered Keystone Landfill to take corrective steps so a situation like this does not happen in the future. The Shapiro Administration will continue to protect every Pennsylvanian’s constitutional right to clean air, pure water, and a healthy environment.”

“The Department thanks impacted Pennsylvanians for working with DEP staff over the past few months,” said DEP Northeast Regional Director Joseph J. Buczynski, PE. “The complaints we received were instrumental in helping to confirm the source of the odors and hold the landfill accountable.”

Following an increase of complaints about off-site odors from the Keystone Sanitary Landfill, DEP staff worked around the clock to actively address hundreds of odor complaints and conducted odor patrols on weekdays, early mornings, evenings, and weekends. During complaint investigations and regular and after-hours odor patrols, from November 2022 through February 2024, there were at least 70 occasions where representatives of the Department detected landfill gas and/or leachate odors offsite and were able to attribute them to Keystone. During complaint investigations, staff also determined that Keystone had created odors, including strong malodors, from its facility, impacting the community. A malodor is defined by DEP regulation as: “[A]n odor which causes annoyance or discomfort to the public and which the Department determines to be objectionable to the public.”

As part of its investigation into the odors, the Department determined that Keystone:

  • Failed to implement its Nuisance Minimization and Control Plan to minimize and control other conditions that are harmful to the environment or public health, or which create safety hazards, odors, dust, noise, unsightliness, and other public nuisances.
  • Permitted the emission of a malodorous air contaminant from the facility into the atmosphere in such a manner that the malodors were detectable outside the facility where the malodors were generated.
  • Failed to prevent and control air pollution.
  • Failed to implement the gas control and monitoring plan.
  • Failed to maintain a uniform intermediate cover that prevents odors.
  • Failed to properly conduct enhanced surface monitoring on intermediate slopes.

The failures described above are a violation of the Solid Waste Management Act, the Air Pollution Control Act, DEP’s regulations, and conditions in the landfill’s existing permits it has with the Department.

DEP will continue to monitor the landfill and to investigate complaints to ensure Keystone Sanitary Landfill is reducing odors, as is required by the COA. If Keystone Sanitary Landfill fails to comply with the terms of the COA, they could face further penalties.

A copy of the COA with Keystone can be found on the DEP website.

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

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