Landfill clears DEQ hurdle

The Shoosmith Landfill on Iron Bridge Road near Chester has permitted with the DEQ for berm walls that will surround part of the landfill. They had applied some months ago and some local residents say that they had violations pending while applying for the DEQ permit.

A public hearing was held in mid-September last year with the DEQ collecting data from citizens. The biggest complaint at the time was smell, which didn’t apply to the case and the material that would be used as part of the berm – fly ash.

“The landfill and the berm will be much like a layer cake,” said vice president of Shoosmith Inc., Fletcher Kelly. “There is a layer of trash and then a layer of clay mixed with fly ash. While Mr. Fletcher said it was a safe process, others, mostly residents of the adjacent development The Highlands, said fly ash is a toxic material containing chemicals that are considered carcinogens."

Robert Olsen, who had been collecting data on fly ash and had issues with the way the DEQ handled the permit and attended the DEQ public hearing and commented, “How could the DEQ and Fletcher in good conscience listen to all the complaints about the dump for two hours, and not say a word about the violations. The people were complaining about the very things that were a result of the violations.”

Kelly denied the claim and the DEQ agreed, issuing the permit for construction last week.

The company distributed a press release last week indicating its concern for safety and the environment. “Shoosmith Bros. Landfill is pleased that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approved our modification to permit Number 587.  Our team worked closely with DEQ to ensure our permit and operations allow for maximum public safety and protection of the environment. Shoosmith Bros. takes seriously the considerable interest and comments from our community and we look forward to a collaborative and transparent partnership moving forward.”

A second concern, which surfaced a couple of weeks ago, was that as Shoosmith was going through the DEQ berm permit process while it had violations on the books. Fletcher said that the violations were easily fixed within twenty-four hours.

One violation had to do with a gas burner that shut down for safety reasons and was off for four hours. The other had to do with not enough cover on the trash and one other violation described a small amount of leachate (liquid that runs off of decaying trash) to have gotten into a holding pond. Kelly said the items had been addressed within 24 hours and the EPA had been appeased.

Kelly also said that “the company is looking at using a third-party inspector that would be onsite during the construction of the berm for at least one year.”

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