Photo: Landfill leachate in a storm water drainage ditch during an inspection by the PA DEP on August 25, 2022 at the Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill in Rostraver, Pa. (Photo: PA DEP)
An August 26, 2022 story by TRIB reporter Jeff Himler, Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill cited for leachate leak into Speers Run, brings to light ongoing problems with landfill leachate reaching waterways that flow into the Monongahela River, the drinking water source for hundreds of thousands of residents of southwestern Pennsylvania.
These municipal garbage landfills were never designed to handle the toxic waste they are now accepting in huge volumes, from Marcellus Shale drilling and fracking. In just one example, Radium 226 has a half life of 1,600 years and is water soluble!
Photo: Leachate overflows from a leachate equalization tank during an inspection by the PA DEP on August 25, 2022 in a leachate load-out area at the Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill in Rostraver, Pa. (Photo: PA DEP)
The state Department of Environmental Protection has cited the Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill for leachate that leaked from the Rostraver facility on Wednesday and made its way into Speers Run. According to the inspection report, DEP learned from staff with landfill operator Noble Environmental that the leak happened at about 2 p.m. Wednesday, but the company didn’t provide required notice of the incident to the DEP. Inspectors said, when they arrived at the site Thursday, they noticed a brown discoloration and sheen on Speers Run, along Johnson Avenue.Jeff Himler | TRIB | August 26, 2022
A few years ago, this same landfill was causing major problems for a sewage treatment plant along the Monongahela River, that was accepting this landfill’s leachate:
“One might say, “What would a garbage dump have to do with the fracking industry?” A very good question to which we wondered ourselves. By digging into our archived lab results along with our current results, we were able to trend data that linked the Municipal Landfill to the fracking industry. Upon several meetings with the Department of Environmental Protection, we discovered that the fracking industry is permitted to dump drill cuttings, fracking cake and other fracking wastes into Municipal Landfills.by Guy C. Kruppa, Superintendent of the Belle Vernon Municipal Authority | February 2020
This waste is permitted to be disposed of, up to a certain tonnage per year. Now landfills are designed to accept the nastiest smelling garbage on Earth, right? You would be correct to assume this thought. However, is it correct to accept waste that contains elevated radiation levels, with elements such as Barium, Radium, and Tritium? We have come to realize that drilling for gas is accompanied by devastating by- products that are harmful to human health as well as sewage treatment plant bugs.”
According to Mr. Kruppa the landfill was piping an average of 100,000 gallons of leachate a day to the sewage treatment plant, double the amount allowed in the contract. And he said testing done by the authority shows high levels of ammonia, total suspended solids, and a host of chemicals and compounds consistent with shale gas drilling and fracking waste materials, including volatile organic compounds, magnesium, barium, phenols and oil and grease.Belle Vernon sewage plant to stop accepting contaminated landfill runoff by Don Hopey | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | May 16, 2019
DEP records show the Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill began accepting oil and gas “drill cuttings,” consisting of mud and rock drilling cuttings, in August 2010. Up to 80 percent of the waste stream accepted by the landfill can come from the oil and gas industry, according to its state permit.
TENORM: Stories on Fracking’s Radioactive Waste – complete list of Public Herald’s investigations covering or mentioning fracking’s radioactive waste, a.k.a. TENORM (technically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material), since the beginning of the publication in 2011. Public Herald’s three documentary films — 1. Triple Divide 2. Triple Divide [Redacted] 3. INVISIBLE HAND — each include reporting on fracking’s TENORM waste.