Incinerator Sale: Testimony of Eric Epstein Before the Harrisburg City Council

Posted by By at 13 September, at 10 : 11 AM Print

Since 1987  I have  document noncompliance issues afflicting the Harrisburg Steam Generating Faculty (“HSGF”), renamed the Harrisburg Materials, Energy, Recycling and Resource Recovery Facility (“HRRF”) in 1992.

Whatever you call it, the incinerator generated ash from the incineration of household municipal waste, hazardous waste and non hazardous industrial solid waste. I  attached a  document detailing a portion of the  trail of hazardous waste that is on record as being stored onsite.

Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority’s (“LCSWMA”) responses to hazardous waste issues  have focused on ash and waste  stored above ground. Theses responses ignore what is actually in both Pits onsite.

Transferring the permit to a new facility does not necessarily require an environmental assessment according to DEP’s interpretation of the law. If a waiver is granted, the regulations require the operator and not DEP to conduct an  assessment. (1)

However, that’s a judgment DEP has to make. It is not LCSWMA’s unilateral prerogative. There is no official document that acknowledges that a waiver has been granted by DEP.

When transferring a permit, the new permitee assumes most of the liability risk.  In certain circumstances, the former owner and permitee of a facility may still be liable. That is something that gets determined on a case-by-case basis, based on the facts and applicable laws and statutes.

No one has established if the chain of custody dates back to the last permit transfer in 1993 or the facility upgrade in 2003. This is a significant loophole that needs to be closed to minimize risks for residents of the City of Harrisburg and taxpayers of Dauphin County.

Any decision regarding the transfer of the HRRF should be postponed until the following  issues have been addressed:

  1. Request a copy of DEP’s decisions to waive Form D and the requirement for environmental assessment.
  2. Ash was disposed onsite at pits designated Pit A and Pit B  (“Mt. Ashmore”). These areas were not qualified to receive hazardous waste. Pit A was “closed” prior to the requirement for “post closure” permit. Pit B is still considered “ active” and a 5 year extension was recently processed by the DEP.
    Request that LCSWMA secure a closure and post-closure permit for Pits A and B prior to the sale of the HRRF.
  3. The facility is a de facto hazardous waste site. I enclosed an attachment documenting a partial trail of hazardous waste that is on record as being stored Pits A and B.
    Secure a written commitment that indemnifies the City of Harrisburg from any future cleanup or liability costs.
  4. Require a determination as to the final site cleanup status, i.e., “Brownfield” or “Greenfield” so the City can preserve the ability to recycle the land.

 

 

When someone drinks poison that get their stomach pumped. They don’t change the clothes they were wearing when they drank the poison.

Changing the ownership of the incinerator is not going to make the hazardous waste problem go away.

The is no hazardous waste fairy who will solve this problem.  Somebody down the road is going to have pay to have the incinerator’s stomach pumped.

Sincerely,

Eric Epstein
4100 Hillsdale Road
Harrisburg, PA 17112
717-635-8615

 

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1

 

§ 271.126. Requirement for environmental assessment.

 

(a)  Except as provided in subsection (b), an application for a municipal waste disposal or processing permit shall include an environmental assessment on a form prescribed by the Department.

(b)  The following permit applications do not require an environmental assessment unless the Department determines that the facility may have a significant effect on the environment:

(1)  Permit applications for the beneficial use of municipal waste.

(2)  Permit applications for the processing of municipal waste under Subchapter I (relating to beneficial use).

 (3)  Permit modification applications that are not for major modifications under §  271.144 (relating to public notice and public hearings for permit modifications).

(c)  For facilities which have previously been subject to the environmental assessment process, the Department will limit the scope of review under that process to the following:

(1)  Proposed modifications to the facility.

(2)  Changes in the areas covered by the assessment that have occurred.

 

Photo by Jonathan Smith

This post was written by:
- who has written 396 posts for Rock The Capital
Eric J. Epstein is RocktheCapital‘s coordinator and a community advocate for good government for over 25 years. Mr. Epstein is also Chairman of the Three Mile Island Alert, Inc., a safe-energy organization founded in 1977; President of EFMR Monitoring Group, Inc., a non-profit economic development corporation established in 1977, and Chairman of the Stray Winds Area Neighbors (SWAN), a smart growth association organized in 2005. Mr. Epstein was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities at PSU-Harrisburg (1992-1999) and co-authored the Dictionary of the Holocaust, which was released by Greenwood Press (1997) - Email Eric Epstein

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