Mother, son sued for illegal sludge disposal
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
A 72-year-old Hallstead woman and her son have been charged with illegally dumping sludge on farm fields inSusquehannaCountyand then manipulating records to indicate proper disposal.
Betty M. Birtch, and David Alan Birtch, 51, both of 22878 State Rt. 11, appeared before Magisterial District Judge Jodi Cordner Monday afternoon, and waived their rights to a preliminary hearing.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Section also filed charges against Hallstead Sanitary Services Inc., same address, which is the sewage hauler for both residential septic and municipal sludge inSusquehannaCounty.
The company is owned by Betty Birtch and her retired husband.
Betty Birtch also serves as the corporation’s secretary and treasurer and manages the office and paperwork.
According to the criminal complaint, Hallstead Sanitary provided sludge destination reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection which indicated that betweenJan. 18, 2010, andMarch 21, 2011, sludge was transported and disposed of at A&G Associates inColesville,N.Y.
However, records show that A&G allegedly stopped accepting sludge disposals in 2006.
The attorney general’s office claims that instead of properly disposing of sludge David Birtch dumped the waste on farm fields owned by the family inNew MilfordTownship.
The complaint alleges that Betty Birtch took hand written weight tickets turned in by drivers and typed up a bill along with a ticket indicating that the sludge was disposed of properly.
The court records further claim that Betty Birtch was fully aware that the sludge was not being disposed of properly as required by law and fabricated the false reports to comply with DEP.
Both mother and son are now scheduled to be arraigned in Susquehanna County Court on May 22.
The case will be prosecuted in by Senior Deputy Attorney General Brian Coffey.
Betty Birtch is charged with one felony count of tampering with public records and one misdemeanor count of unlawful conduct.
David Birtch faces one count of unlawful conduct.
The Hallstead Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority did receive a copy of the notice of violation from the DEP for Hallstead Sanitary Service just over a year ago and did stop utilizing Hallstead Sanitary Service for sludge hauling at that time.