The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has ordered Waste Management Inc. to close its Tullytown landfill on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The landfill, located in Tullytown, Pa., has drawn odor complaints from residents in neighboring Florence, N.J., since it opened in 1988. Since then, the Houston-based Waste Management has expanded the landfill—the last time in 2013—and spent millions on improvements. The latest improvements were spurred by a nuisance odor violation issued by DEP in October 2014 and included a 20-percent reduction in total waste at the landfill and a 66-percent reduction in sewage sludge waste. The company used additional soil to prevent fresh waste from creating odors, installing 21 new landfill gas wells, news synthetic capping, plus new misting lines.
Waste Management and DEP officials sought public comment during the last several months ahead of the company’s request for a four-year permit renewal, and a coalition of residents around the landfill filed a lawsuit in December 2014.
Cosmo Servidio, DEP Southeast regional director, says the public concerns about ongoing odor, noise and visual nuisances “were a significant factor in the decision to direct the landfill to close.”
“After a complete review of the renewal application and consideration of public input, we concluded that a balance had to be reached to allow disposal operations to continue, but for a limited amount of time so that the landfill could close in a structurally sound and environmentally safe manner,” says Servidio. “We therefore renewed the permit but also are requiring that all waste disposal operations cease on or before May 22, 2017, and that the landfill be completely closed and capped after disposal operations cease. During this time, WMPA (Waste Management) will need to minimize and control nuisances and will still be subject to enforcement actions or other measures, should offsite nuisances not be adequately controlled. In addition, negotiations to resolve penalty liability for past violations are under way.”
The permit that was granted by DEP for Waste Management to continue operating Tullytown for even another two years includes conditions that the company must continue to minimize and control nuisances during the remaining operational life of the landfill.
John Hambrose, communications director for Waste Management, says the company is grateful for the permit renewal, which will allow the company to complete its construction of the landfill.
“We remain fully committed to minimizing and controlling potential off-site impacts. We will continue our daily quality assurance patrols and maintain our relationships with nearby communities to assure that we are doing everything we can to be a good neighbor,” Hambrose says.
Hambrose says Waste Management will not appeal the ruling.
“We admire how responsive the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been to the New Jersey residents who expressed concerns about the landfill,” he says. “The PADEP (Pennsylvania DEP) order will allow us to complete the landfill as designed. We will install temporary and final capping as quickly as possible as we continue to build the Tullytown Landfill. Final cap installation will be completed as soon as possible after disposal operations cease.”