Times-Tribune Editorial Board: Wolf, DEP Owe Explanation on Landfill

In an article posted on November 14th, the Times-Tribune Editorial Board criticizes the Department of Environmental Protection and the Wolf administration in general for their sloppy handling of Keystone Sanitary Landfill's health and environmental violations. Just like in the Kyle Wind article posted on the 13th, Judge Bernard Labuskes Jr. seemed to be the harshest critic of the DEP's failure to do its job. As quoted in the article, the judge had this to say:

"We do have some doubts about whether the department has fulfilled its responsibilities as a prudent, loyal and impartial trustee of the public natural resources. The record does not demonstrate that it has consistently exercised vigorous oversight of the landfill consistent with its regulatory and constitutional responsibilities with just as much concern about the rights of the landfills' neighbors as the rights of the landfill."

Click here to read the full article. 


State Board Won't Rescind Keystone Landfill Operating Permit

In this article published on November 13th, Kyle Wind reports that the State Environmental Hearing Board declined to rescind Keystone Sanitary Landfill's operating permit. However, they are requiring KSL to conduct a groundwater assessment plan in response to contamination picked up by a monitoring well for the past 15 years. This decision can be seen as both a win and a loss for both sides. The biggest take away for Friends of Lackawanna is the confirmation of our complaints that the DEP has been guilty of vast oversight when it comes to regulating actions of KSL. Perhaps the most criticism of the DEP came from Judge Bernard Labuskes Jr., who in the written adjudication of FOL's appeal wrote: 

"The department relies on formal, memorialized violations in conducting its review....but the department, with rare exceptions, never memorializes an of Keystone's violations. The department has guidance documents that require its personnel to record violations even if the violations are minor and/or corrected. The department ignored these guidance documents with respect to Keystone."

Click here to read the full article. 


Four Candidates Vie for Three Seats on Scranton City Council

In a Times-Tribune article, staff writer Jim Lockwood discussed candidates for the upcoming Scranton City Council election on November 7th, specifically their views on the Scranton Sewage Authority and the Keystone Sanitary Landfill. Three of the four candidates (Pat Rogan, Bill Gaughan, and Kyle Donahue) have explicitly voiced opposition to the expansion of KSL, while Tony Dibileo has remained vague about the issue. Here are a few of the article's highlights:

"We just should not be continuously bringing in out-of-state garbage into our community."– Kyle Donahue

"When I think of that monstrosity up there, that has been allowed to continue to expand over the years, unchecked, and the amount of out-of-state trash that we take, it is disgusting....This is about the health, safety, and welfare of our residents. It shouldn't be about the almighty dollar and whether or not somebody throws us a new firetruck or donates to one of the local universities."– Bill Gaughan

"Saying he opposes the landfill expansion, Rogan said, 'It's easy to talk about being against the landfill, but the actual solution is to create less waste. I've been a strong supporter of increasing our recycling in the city of Scranton.'"

Click here to read Jim Lockwood's full article. 

Times-Tribune Editorial Board: TRASH Act Matter of Responsibility

In an article published on October 11th, the Times-Tribune editorial board voiced their support for Sen. Bob Casey's and Rep. Matt Cartwright's bill, the Trash Reduction and Sensible Handling Act, or TRASH Act. The bill is designed to empower states who receive a large amount of out-of-state trash by requiring, "any garbage-exporting state....to have waste-management plans and safe-handling regulations equal to or greater than those of the state where the garbage is dumped." Both Sen. Casey and Rep. Cartwright have shown support for Friends of Lackawanna. 

Click here to read the full article.   

Environmental Issues Addressed, Landfill Says

In an article released on September 19th, Times-Tribune writer Kyle Wind documented the latest episode of the back-and-forth between the DEP, KSL, and FOL. Keystone recently submitted a 264-page response to the DEP's second environmental assessment letter that claims that they have, "mitigated everything to the most current, best-available technologies out there." The response then separates Keystone's efforts into problems "completely" mitigated (such as water quality concerns, increased runoff, devaluation of properties, noise, and road deterioration) and "mostly" mitigated (odors, landfill gas emissions, dusts, pests, litter, risk of fires, unsafe or overweight vehicles, dirt and mud, and the visibility of such a large landfill). FOL was quick to challenge these claims. Here's FOL's Pat Clark's response, as quoted in the article:

"This document and the logic used within it is an insult to the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. They cannot completely mitigate or reduce the harms. In fact, the harms have continued to increase and will only escalate with 100 million tons of garbage piled on top of what's already there." 

Click here to read Kyle Wind's full article.

While Dumps Are Hotspot for Gulls, Reservoirs Are Hotspot for Gulls' Dumps

It's common knowledge to anyone who lives near a landfill that dumps are a hotspot for seagulls. With their mountains of exposed trash, little to no human interference, and a fresh supply of garbage being trucked in daily, what gull in his right mind wouldn't make a landfill his new home? However, not until recently have gulls' effects on local ecosystems been studied. In the articles and study linked below, you will find that a spike in a local seagull population can cause drastically harmful effects on local waterways and reservoirs. Why is that? Well, simply because more gulls means more bird poop, and more bird poop means more contaminated water. FOL has always stressed the potential dangers of having Dunmore's Reservoirs located so close to Keystone Sanitary Landfill, but now these articles show that not only can the garbage itself contaminate our drinking water, but the unwanted avian company it attracts can too. Here's an excerpt from "Garbage-Fed Seagulls Are Spoiling Our Lakes And Reservoirs With Their Poop":

"The numbers are staggering. According to the new research, an estimated 240 extra tons of nitrogen and 39 extra tons of phosphorus are plopped [by seagulls] into these water systems each year across North America. Under normal circumstances, a little bird poop–filled with many beneficial nutrients–wouldn't be anything to worry about. But all of this added seagull crap is contributing to extensive algal blooms, which sucks a tremendous amount of oxygen from the water. This results in mass fish kills, and the proliferation of algal toxins across precious water bodies. Algal blooms also degrade recreational and fishing areas–not to mention the increased costs of local governments that have to deal with them."

Garbage-Fed Seagulls Are Spoiling Our Lakes And Reservoirs With Their Poop 

Trash-Picking Seagulls Poop Hundreds of Tons of Nutrients

The Biogeochemical Implications of Massive Gull Flocks at Landfills


Time-Tribune Editorial Boards: Dump's Plan Isn't about NEPA Trash

In this opinion piece, the Scranton Times-Tribune Editorial Board critiques recently put forth benefits of the 45-year-expansion, such as including the selling of methane gas as a benefit to the community. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"A Keystone spokesperson is probably correct that rejecting the expansion eventually will increase local disposal costs due to transportation expenses. But the expansion proposal carries a far heavier price–importing millions [of] more tons of garbage into Lackawanna County."

To read the full article, click on this link. 

Sorting Out Options on Keystone Sanitary Landfill Expansion Plan

On June 18th, Scranton Times-Tribune journalist, Kyle Wind, released an article that considers both sides of the KSL expansion debate in the wake of the release of the DEP's Second Environmental Assessment Review Letter. In the article, Wind quotes FOL's own Patrick Clark. Here's an excerpt from that interview: 

"At the end of the day, they have to prove that the benefits outweigh the known and potential harms. All of the benefits are either removed or about money, and all of the harms have not been mitigated yet....This is an equation you cannot solve. You simply can't come to the conclusion that the benefits do outweigh the harms. And if you do, you're doing so purely on a dollars-and-cents level."  -Patrick Clark

To read the full article, click on this link. 


Times Tribunes Editorial Board: Dump Review Doesn't Build Confidence

"Approval of this expansion [of Keystone Sanitary Landfill], which portends far more harm than benefit, would constitute a colossal failure of the state government to protect the environment and economy of Northeast Pennsylvania." 

Thank you, Scranton Times-Tribunes Editorial Board, for getting it right on the issue once again! Please click this link to read the entire piece from the Times-Tribune.



Dunmore Elects New Mayor Tim Burke Who Ran A Campaign Centered Around His Opposition to the Keystone Expansion

As quoted in a May 6th story in the Scranton Times-Tribune, Tim Burke had this to say about why he was running against the incumbent, Patrick "Nibs" Loughney: "I believe that if we close that landfill after eight to ten years or whatever its remaining life expectancy ends up being, we can bring jobs into the area. We need more manufacturing jobs to keep young people right here instead of having a place where you have to worry about a landfill right in the middle of the neighborhood....I won't give up the fight." The rest of that article by Kyle Wind as well as the official election results are linked below. 

Dunmore Mayor's Race Contested, for Change

Dunmore 2017 Primary Mayoral Election Results

Burke Adds GOP Nomination to Dem Win in Dunmore Mayoral Race

Senator Bernie Sanders Mentions Our Fight Against the KSL Expansion During Pruitt Hearing

Senator Bernie Sanders named KSL during the congressional hearing on the nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is proof that FOL's fight against the KSL expansion is being heard even in Washington! To read what Senator Sanders had to say on KSL, skip to page 161 of the document linked below. 

Nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Injustice class at Bucknell University working with FOL

Friends, we need your participation!  Students from an Environmental Injustice class at Bucknell University would like to highlight the environmental injustice posed by the Keystone Sanitary Landfill on our community.  The link below will lead you to a document that requests that you take a photo and use your own words to describe it.  


When considering what to capture in your photos and descriptions, it could be helpful to consider such questions as: What are the various injustices Friends of Lackawanna seeks to stop or correct?  Why did you get involved with Friends of Lackawanna?  What motivates your community activism?  Who or what has been disproportionately impacted?


Please make sure to use the Photo Voice Template and also the Photo Consent Form if you have other people in your photo.  You can email your submissions to friendsoflackwanna@gmail.org.  The students will write a report and prepare a presentation at the end of the semester.  Thank you!

Letter to the Editor: July 12, 2016

In today's Letters to the Editor, Katharine Spanish gives a powerful personal story on why a mega-landfill does not belong, and should certainly not be able to continuously expand, in the middle of residential areas.

Katharine states, "I bought the house in which I grew up, the house for which I have grand memories as a child, the house where I wanted to raise my own family, the house that my three beautiful children, ages 4, 2 and 1, call home. No residential neighborhood should live in the shadow of a massive landfill.

That is why on July 18 at 6 p.m. in the Mid Valley High School auditorium, I will tell the DEP that it must reject the landfill’s expansion. I encourage others to do the same."

Read more

City Solicitor Says KLS's Use of Green Ridge Line Permitted; FOL Disagrees

Last night City Solicitor Shrive delivered a letter to council saying that KSL's use of the Green Ridge line is permissible. While we have not reviewed the letter in its entirety, we wholeheartedly disagree with that assessment. Thank you Members of Council for seeing this for what it is. We will not stop until the line is shut.


Council members expressed dismay. They said Mr. Shrive’s opinion did not provide a compelling rationale and stands in stark contrast to a letter submitted last week by resident Samantha Maloney that convinced council that opponents of the alternate line are correct.

DEP to hold public hearing on Keystone landfill expansion

The state Department of Environmental Protection scheduled a public hearing on the 44.6-year expansion plan from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Monday, July 18, at Mid Valley High School in Throop.

“We are happy to keep filling up auditoriums to make our position clear, but it hasn’t changed since the beginning,” said Pat Clark, one of the leaders of anti-expansion Friends of Lackawanna. “This expansion was absurd the moment it was proposed. It was senseless at the time of the past two meetings. And it remains preposterous now.”

Read More Here


The Garbage Has To Go Somewhere: Pat Clark Guest Editorial

"The garbage has to go somewhere." In this Scranton Times-Tribune Guest Editorial, FOL core member, Pat Clark, explains the flawed, short-sighted logic of that statement and outlines why we need to be moving forward to a circular economy that eliminates waste, and not backward by tripling down on an antiquated industry.

Excepts Below. Full Story Here

 One hundred billion pounds of garbage already have been deposited in Lackawanna County’s two megadumps — Alliance Sanitary Landfill and Keystone Sanitary Landfill. If the expansion that Keystone proposes gets approved, that number will more than triple.

Trying to justify this expansion defies logic and one of the attempts we hear most often is that “the garbage has got to go somewhere.” However, using that argument to justify this proposed expansion is flawed, lazy, shortsighted and encourages poor policy.

First, there is already plenty of available landfill space for garbage and any argument claiming that expansions are needed due to a landfill capacity shortage is a myth. In reality, there is no landfill capacity shortage on a national, state or local level...

Next, actively seeking and approving landfill expansions is a backward-looking policy. Instead of seeking more landfill space, progressive communities and companies around the world are aggressively doing the exact opposite...

The future is clear and it does not involve expanding landfills. It involves a more sustainable, circular world with alternative approaches to handling waste. However, as long as an excess supply of cheap landfill space remains, and as long as unneeded expansions such as Keystone’s are approved, the sustainable shift will be hindered and any impetus for creating a strong policy to support that shift becomes the proverbial can kicked down the road. In Keystone’s case, it’s a very long road...

...Further, Northeast Pennsylvania has already gone above and beyond the call of duty for society in how much waste we have taken. One hundred billion is a lot of anything, let alone pounds of garbage buried in our valley.

So we find ourselves at an inflection point. Progressive companies, cities and countries are speeding toward a future of eliminating as much waste as possible. Do we want to be part of that smarter future? Or would we rather watch Keystone’s expansion send our area in the exact opposite direction, cementing our reputation as a dumping ground for decades to come?

It’s time for our area to look forward, not back. It’s time to get ahead of the curve, not triple down on an antiquated industry. It’s time to plan for a brighter future, not to block out the sun with a mountain of garbage.

NPR: Fight over Scranton-area landfill exposes generational divide

Thanks to Keystone Crossroads, Friends of Lackawanna was recently featured regionally on NPR. The conversation chronicles FOL's fight to close and cap a mega landfill that sits less than a quarter mile from a residential community. 


The Viewmont Mall, in Dickson City, has spectacular views of the Wyoming Valley: rolling green mountains, clusters of neat homes and Scranton's bustling downtown. But there are a few mountains that look a little different than the others.

"See the sort of messy piles up at the top?" Michele Dempsey is pointing across the valley from her car. "Where it looks, like, black? That's where the active face is, that is where they are putting garbage."

Dempsey is talking about the Keystone Sanitary Landfill, a 750-acre operation that accepts 7,250 tons of refuse in 520 heavy trucks each day, much of it from out of state. Dempsey is the founder of a group called Friends of Lackawanna that's trying to stop the expansion of KSL.

To Listen or read the full story, click here. 

Cartwright: Future Too Bright For Dump Expansion

Thank you, Congressman Cartwright, for being a champion of the environment and a champion of the health, reputation, and future of our area! From Flint to NEPA, you represent and protect the people. We applaud you for your strength and conviction on this issue and for standing up for what is right on our behalf.

I oppose the expansion because it’s about our vision for the future of our area. I think we need to be doing things that help our area’s ability to attract the kind of high-paying manufacturing jobs that enable middle-class families to thrive, grow and allow our children to stay in the area....The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection should decline to issue what is tantamount to a 50-year permit to expand the landfill.