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Plan: Modern Landfill would grow by 50%; green groups flag pollution

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

Modern Landfill would grow by 50% in its proposed 122-acre expansion, according to a conceptual design released earlier this month, and environmental groups are sounding alarms about the amount of pollution already being discharged into a nearby stream. 

The eastward expansion in Lower Windsor Township would sit within the area bordered by East Prospect Road to the north, Barcroft Road to the east, Gun Club Road to the south and Mount Pisgah Road to the west, but the conceptual plan shows the disposal area would be closest to Mount Pisgah Road and a portion of Gun Club Road.

"It’s really a lot smaller than I thought it would be," said Barry Miller, a Lower Windsor Township supervisor.

Miller said the proposed disposal footprint covers roughly half the land owned by Modern Landfill, a subsidiary of Republic Services, in that area.

Neighbors who live on the surrounding roads have pushed back vehemently against the expansion over concerns the landfill will encroach on their properties, pollute their water and generally decrease their quality of life.

Republic Services Modern Landfill in Lower Windsor Township, Thursday, September 17, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Tim O'Donnell, general manager of the landfill, said he thinks there was some confusion among the residents about where the new disposal area would go because of the way landfill officials listed the four roads as general boundary lines in their early discussions about the expansion.

"We certainly never had the intention or even the thought that it was going to extend to the limits of those roadways," O'Donnell said.

He said the footprint of the proposed disposal expansion is pretty close to what he expected when the company first began investigating the project.

The new disposal area wouldn't be used until at least 2025, per the permitting requirements at the state Department of Environmental Protection, and landfill officials expect it would remain in use for 25 years.

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The township hasn't signed a new host agreement with Republic yet, which would guarantee monetary benefits and other perks to the township in exchange for the supervisors' cooperation with the expansion.

Miller said he doesn't know when the host agreement will be ready and that there isn't a deadline to meet to discuss it.

The current host agreement nets the township $1.2 million a year in grants and services from Republic.

Photographs, taken by local fisherman Shane Allison, show a dark substance draining into Kreutz Creek in Lower Windsor Township, on the north side of Modern Landfill.

Discharge: Water quality is one of the most commonly cited concerns among residents who oppose the landfill expansion, as well as among environmental activists.

The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association is a nonprofit environmental organization that coordinates stream clean-ups and advocates for the ecological health of the Lower Susquehanna watershed and the Chesapeake Bay.

Ted Evgeniadis from LSRA said Modern Landfill's on-site industrial wastewater treatment plant has been discharging high levels of nitrates, Boron and other pollutants into Kreutz Creek.

Evgeniadis said the landfill is one example of how an antiquated industrial plant can pollute the environment without the proper technological upgrades.

"It’s been going on for years, but it’s now finally being addressed," Evgeniadis said.

In a consent order and agreement signed Aug. 25  by representatives for Republic and the DEP, Republic officials agreed to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant to meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act and to install a monitoring system at Kreutz Creek in the area where wastewater discharges into the stream.

Republic also agreed to pay a $31,300 civil penalty to the DEP for  violations.

O'Donnell said Republic plans to spend more than $13 million in technological upgrades at the plant over the next two years and that the consent agreement was part of the standard process of updating the landfill's permits with the state.

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