New Milford objects to landfill gas drilling

BY PAT FARNELLI

New Milford Township Supervisors sent a letter to legislators and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection objecting to proposed natural gas exploration at the Lyncott Facility, a landfill on Washburn Road in New Milford Township.

Residents attending the June meeting of the township were made aware of the letter, and copies were provided for those who requested them.

The landfill, facilitated by waste management, is only two miles southwest of the borough of New Milford, and has approximately 75 water wells within a one mile radius.

Southwestern Energy Production company has received a permit to construct a well pad on the former Lyncott Corp. property, and has applied for a permit to drill the first of six to eight Marcellus Shale wells planned for the pad.

The landfill was closed in the 1980s after 10 acres of the 192 acre property were found to not have proper containment for an industrial waste site.

According to the supervisors’ letter, the landfill contains industrial waste from IBM, including, but not limited to, vinyl chloride, manganese and arsenic. The landfill had been used for decades to dispose of chemical waste, and in 1994, a post closure plan was drafted and applied to address the long term environmental issues presented by the site. In particular, a plan was designed to evaluate groundwater quality on an annual basis.

According to a statistical report completed by Applied Geoscience, Inc., in August, 2004, ground water chemistry showed that a certain area of the landfill, named “The IBM PAD,” passed the expected termination criteria as set forth in the original closure plan.

However, subsequent annual reports, as late as June 1, 2011, revealed that the aforementioned chemicals continue to be present within the monitoring wells.

Since natural gas exploration in Susquehanna County, the real property comprising the landfill was leased to Southwestern Energy. After the lease was executed with the landfill’s owner, Southwestern Energy has proposed constructing three well pads on/in the general facility of
the landfill.

“Upon SWN applying to DEP for permits and notifying us persuant to the regulations promulgated by ACT 14, the supervisors immediately took steps to voice their concerns over this type of endeavor in an area rich with environmental pollution history,” the letter states.

“The Supervisors believe their to be a certain hazard present at this site and feel a disturbance could prove to be an environmental gamble, particularly to the approximately 75 private wells/water supplies within a one mile radius of the Lyncott Facility.

The township has explicitly expressed its concerns to the DEP, Waste Management, Inc., and SWN, and have provided these organizations with the most recent analytical monitoring reports.”

Hazardous material is contained in the cement bunkers buried at the site, and Sandra Babuka of RESCUE of Susquehanna County has mounted a letter-writing campaign to try to stop state regulators from issuing the drilling permit.

There is a concern about the effects of the vibration from drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and heavy industry trucks on the aging containers.

The supervisors’ letter asked for technical and oversight assistance, as resources are limited. They noted that because there is an infinite number of questions and hypothetical circumstances that can and most likely will arise, i.e., contamination, run-off, liability, etc., the supervisors feel that state and county officials should be made aware of the situation. They hope that appropriate action will be taken to ensure the safety of residents.

“The township wants our residents to know that although the supervisors are not opposed to the gas company’s presence in our township, a safe environment and their health is indeed our number one priority,” the letter concludes.

In other business, bids were opened for a 65′ by 100′ cinder storage shed, and a 50′ by 80′ maintenance garage to be constructed on the municipal property.

Three bids were received: Doubletree Contractors bid $75,750 for the cinder shed and $108,705 for the garage, with a total of $184,555; Verys Construction bid $114,473 for the cinder shed and $136,488 for the garage, with a total of $250,962; and HOHM Construction bid $136,400 for the cinder shed and $123,700 for the garage, totaling $251,000.

The supervisors said they would not be accepting any bid that night, but would review them the next day and show them to their solicitor.

The township has received a $150,000 grant from DCED to offset the cost of the project.

A land use permit was granted to Southwestern Energy for pad #30 at the O’Dell property. DEP has also granted SWN a permit for this pad.

DEP notified the township that a Noncoal Mining Permit has been granted for Lacey Quarry, located on South Cudo Road. The supervisors signed a resolution to impose a 10 percent administration fee to UCC permits.

Tri-City Highway Products requested a permit to operate on the Onyon Site on SR 348 for a nonmetallic mineral processing plant with fuel fired internal combustion engines.

The supervisors have entered into a road agreement with Pioneer Drilling Services. The township dirt roads have taken a beating from recent stormwater, and the supervisors acknowledged that they are way behind in their road schedule “due to Mother Nature.”