WNEP News Recap of DOH Meeting

Residents Pack First Meeting with Health Officials After Landfill Air Quality Report Release: WNEP

THROOP -- It was a packed public meeting with members of two communities and state officials over the safety findings of the Keystone Sanitary Landfill at Mid Valley High School in Throop.

The report was released last month, and Monday night, residents had their first chance to get more information on what was found.

Many residents living in Dunmore and Throop, which surround the Keystone Sanitary Landfill, have concerns about what the garbage dump is doing to the quality of their air.

“On any given day we have hundreds of children playing on our playgrounds and on our fields,” said Donna Dixon, the secretary for the Mid Valley School Board of Education, during a public meeting with the Pennsylvania Department of Health at the high school.

This was the first opportunity for people to meet with the state since the department released the findings of an air quality study last month and folks packed into the auditorium for a question and answer session.

“From the testing that was done but there's also recommendations in there for additional testing and that's one of the questions that I wanted to ask tonight,” said Vincent Tanana from Throop.

Health officials say they reviewed data collected at two air quality testing sites, the Mid Valley School District and Sherwood Park, located around the landfill over a three month period.

While it found nothing that would cause cancer, it did find short-term exposure to that air could be sensitive to some.

“Some short-term, transient, mild health effects, maybe eye irritation, throat irritation, headaches, things like that,” said Dr. Sharon Watkins with the Department of Health.

But Michelle Dempsey, with Friends of Lackawanna, a grassroots effort that’s fighting the landfill’s request to expand, says that's unacceptable.

“This study has shown that there are toxins in the air that are putting our kids at risk, and we're at a school with 1,700 kids on this campus daily, and that's just intolerable,” said Dempsey.

However, a spokesperson for the landfill says it has done its own health study which found the landfill to be 100 percent safe.

“It's very clear that after 50 years of operation there's no negative impact on the people in Throop, Dunmore, or Lackawanna County,” said Al Magnotta.

The meeting with the state health department had nothing to do with the landfill's request for expansion; that request is with state environmental officials.

The health department will take public comments on its study until February 14.

A final report including public comments will be available later this year.