Friends of Lackawanna


Silence is consent.

Excerpts: Published: November 26, 2014

Out on the stump, when they’re trying to impress voters, local politicians never suggest that their love of Northeast Pennsylvania, or their willingness to go the last mile to promote and protect it, is limited by the narrow scope of their offices.

But when a massive garbage dump with politically influential owners wants the state government to approve an expansion that will bring more than 100 million more tons of out-of-state garbage to one of the most visible and heavily traveled areas of Lackawanna County, most of those politicians head to their bunkers rather than mount the bully pulpit.

Vision, not just compliance, is the issue

This issue isn’t about mere landfill operations. It’s about a vision for the future. It’s stunning that no one in the local legislative delegation other than Rep. Mike Carroll, of Avoca, recognizes that the perpetual expansion of gigantic garbage dumps, no matter how well they comply with regulations, is not in the area’s interest.



What an amazing, poignant, and thought-provoking piece by Pat Clark. These are the issues that we care about and the questions that need to be answered. Well done, Pat!


Keystone Sanitary Landfill’s proposed expansion is all about the green —

whether cash or the environment.

Those two sides are often diametrically opposed. Industrialists often paint environmentalists as

anti-job-creation tree-huggers. Environmentalists like to cast industrialists as scorched-earth


But in the case of a landfill seeking to become the tallest structure in our area and expand its lifespan by another two generations, the issue is the same — protecting our environment protects our economy.

The issue is about cementing Northeast Pennsylvania’s reputation as the East Coast dumping ground or reversing it. It’s about protecting our health or rolling the dice to see how a 475-foot-high pile of garbage and fracking waste might impact our children’s lives. It’s about seizing control of our future or continuing the cycle of short-term gain at the expense of long-term viability.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will approve of deny the expansion. While the notion of protection is found within the agency’s name, the framework by which it will evaluate Keystone’s expansion may not support its mission.

A key section of an expansion application is known as the benefits and harms analysis. Here, the applicant lists all the benefits an expansion would provide and harms that it could cause. The DEP balances the two and the applicant must demonstrate clearly that the benefits of the project clearly outweigh the known and potential harms.

Reading though the application exposes the cracks in the foundation of the evaluation process and raises serious questions:

■ Why are the benefits — payroll, equipment purchases, host municipality agreements — monetarily quantified while the value every single harm remains undetermined? Why aren’t the potential costs of an environmental disaster calculated — or even mentioned?

■ Why so long? DEP typically grants permits for 10 years. This application seeks up to 46.5 years. With something this sensitive, shouldn’t we encourage conservatism at every opportunity we can?

■ Do property values matter? Keystone states that “it is unlikely that continued operation …will result in any depreciation of the market purchase value of homes in the vicinity ...” However, studies show that landfills that accept more than 500 tons of waste per day decrease adjacent residential property values by an average of 13.7 percent.

If this expansion is approved, the state will receive more than $500 million in increased fees from Keystone over the expansion time frame. Can the DEP, a state entity, fairly evaluate this application when Pennsylvania stands to receive more than $6 for each ton of garbage Keystone receives?

By law, a landfill must pay a host municipality a minimum amount for each ton of garbage accepted. Since 1988, the state-mandated minimum fee has not changed. And since 1988, Keystone has not paid Dunmore any more than that minimum.

However, at times of expansion, landfills seek to show the DEP they are friendly neighbors. So, Keystone has been negotiating with Dunmore for the first time in more than 25 years. It recently offered a contract with no end date and after the expansion, increases its payments to Dunmore by the princely sum of one penny, per ton, per year.

Any 50-year contract is questionable on its face. A 50-year contract with virtually no increases in fees is absurd. In fact, in current dollars, Dunmore would receive less during the last year of the proposed agreement than it receives today.

Unfortunately, Dunmore is left to consider whatever take-it-or-leave-it offer the landfill makes.

Each year, the Environmental Protection Agency produces a report on waste generation, recycling and disposal. These reports show that the amount of garbage each person produces is decreasing. Recycling is increasing. If there’s less overall garbage produced, why the need for additional landfill space? We already have a second landfill in Lackawanna County that reportedly has over three decades of space remaining.

An expansion would allow Keystone to continue to take in even more out-of-state garbage. It would also allow Keystone to take in more fracking waste containing radioactive elements. The former will expand our reputation as the Northeast’s dumping ground. The latter could have a disastrous effect on our environment.

Tying our area’s reputation to garbage for another half-century is unwise policy, both economically and environmentally. Our area deserves better. We need to stop sabotaging ourselves by doubling down on antiquated and harmful industry. We have already done our part.

Enough is enough.


Friends, there is so much well-reported coverage of the KSL expansion in the Times-Tribune today.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Patrick Clark, another core Friends of Lackawanna member, said Keystone only seeks a large expansion to take out-of-state and gas industry waste, he said.

“Neither of those results are in the best interests of anyone that lives in this area,” he said. “Unless, of course, you own a landfill.”



November 15, 2014

Today’s article says approving a new contract would not be seen as consent for the landfill expansion by the DEP. This would be the case as long as that contract did NOT include the Phase 3 expansion, however, the current proposed agreement does include Phase 3.

The Host Municipality Agreement is weighed heavily in the Harms/Benefit analysis. If the Borough agrees to accept money for Phase 3 then they are saying that Phase 3 is acceptable. The DEP will certainly see that as consent. We want to be clear that Friends of Lackawanna is opposing the inclusion of Phase 3 in the agreement since this is the important distinction.

Also, the article does not mention how this proposed deal is worth less and less with each passing year — to the point that in terms of today’s dollars, the last year of the proposed deal is worth less than what the Borough receives today.



Thank you to all who came out to stand and be heard!  It made a difference  once again!


Published: November 14, 2014

“In the application Keystone is going to present to DEP, Exhibit A is going to be this agreement,” attorney Mark Perry told borough council, in part referring to no expiration date for the deal. “If you don’t want (the expansion), then the choice is clear. Don’t vote for this.”

The contract would increase the fee to $1.20 per ton this year, then annually add 10 cents per ton until the total increases to $1.50 in December 2017.

The idea is to then add a penny per ton per year for the remaining life of the landfill, but Mr. Clark pointed to a potential interpretation of the wording that the fee could drop to 42 cents per ton in 2018 with $1.50 not clearly defined as the base amount at that point.



November 3. 2014

Today’s article in the Times Tribune highlights Friends of Lackawanna. We requested no photos for the article since Friends of Lackawanna is about a large group of concerned citizens opposing the landfill expansion. They took the photos in the paper from their archives and the wrong person is pictured as Katherine Mackrell Oven, who is quoted in the article.

Concerned about the environment and public health, a growing number of area residents are organizing to fight Keystone Sanitary Landfill’s proposed expansion in Dunmore and Throop.

The group formed an organization called Friends of Lackawanna. It has around a dozen core members, nearly 850 Facebook followers and has packed Dunmore Community Center with concerned citizens at recent borough council meetings.