WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Services held the first of two public hearings tonight at the Rostraver Fire Department and got an earful from concerned residents.
“You sit before me in your suits. Have you been down in my storm drain? Have you taken a sample? Have you stopped at my business and seen me? The answer is no, you have not,” said John Lunt of Rostraver Township.
One resident after another spoke out against Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill constructing and operating a leachate evaporation system. All who gave testimony opposed it.
“I believe the people of the Mon Valley deserve and should demand clean air clean water and an environmentally safe place to live and thrive,” resident Lisa Fordanich said.
“In 2002, my wife was diagnosed with asthma, She went on Social Security disability in 2012. And that time, we found out she has environmental asthma,” resident Garmon Locknecker said.
According to the DEP, leachate is essentially liquid that comes into contact with waste material. The liquid, which is generated at all landfills, can pick up contamination that must be continually removed from the landfill and treated.
WSL had transported the leachate out but now wants to treat it on sight.
“There’s a potential there may be some amounts of radionuclide that comes from oil and gas waste at the landfill or even medical waste,” said Lauren Fraley with the DEP.
The citizens group, Protect Penn-Trafford, has been outspoken in fighting WSL’s proposal. It says the leachate would contaminate the air and put residents at risk.
“The contamination we feel is unacceptable. We want the DEP to put their priorities to the residents first and industry last. And not the other way around which is how we feel it is right now,” Gillian Graber with Protect PT said.
DEP officials say they are considering all public comments before making a final decision. The DEP is holding a virtual public hearing Thursday and is accepting public comment until Sept. 19.
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