PA DEP Southeast Regional Office
Re: Amendment to Title V Operating Permit, TVOP 46-00033
for Waste Management’s
Dear Ms. Carlini,
The Alliance For A Clean Environment is asking DEP to deny the amendment to TVOP 46-00033. We believe this amendment to Pottstown Landfill’s Title V air permit is really about extending the life of Pottstown Landfill’s five year air permit by another three years. The Title V permit, issued in January, 2002, was to expire in 2004. The proposed amended Title V permit would expire in 2007.
It was inexcusable for DEP to fail to clearly mention in the advertisement that this amendment included a three year extension to Pottstown Landfill’s Title V permit. We strenuously object to a three year extension. We believe Pottstown Landfill Title V permit was issued in violation of two Clean Air Act requirements. A three year extension which wouldn’t end until 2007, is blatantly irresponsible, considering all the other unresolved permitting decisions associated with the Pottstown Landfill.
Additional pending pollution permits for the Pottstown Landfill present the potential for enormous increases in health risks to area residents, especially children. There is already documented evidence of harm to children around the Pottstown Landfill. Our children are getting cancer in record numbers. Our pulmonologists, pediatricians, obstetricians, and family physicians have expressed concern over increasing numbers of environmentally related health problems. Yet, instead of closing the Pottstown Landfill, PA DEP continues to try to provide loopholes for Waste Management to get what it wants for the Pottstown Landfill.
PA Cancer Registry statistics around the Pottstown Landfill should be enough for DEP to justify using the Precautionary Principle for closing the Pottstown Landfill. Below are some Greater Pottstown Area statistics. Statistics include
PA Cancer Registry Statistics 1995 to 1999
92.5 % Above National Average
Almost 100% Above
PA Cancer Registry 1985 to 1994
Almost Double the State of
Breast Cancer Higher than National Average in Every Age Group
PA Cancer Registry - Female Breast Cancer Diagnosed - 1995 to 1999
Age % over
0-29 + 15.3 %
30-44 + 51.4 %
45-64 + 39.3 %
65+ + 28.6 %
Cervical Cancer PA Cancer Registry Statistics – 1985 to 1994
2 ½ to 3 times Higher than
Lung Cancer PA Cancer Registry Statistics – 1985 to 1994
22% to 33% Higher than the
Our air already fails many
We believe an EIS will validate our position - that DEP needs to close the
Ø Pottstown Landfill’s gas has been, and is, out of control. It seems like Pottstown Landfill is choking on its gas now. Significant and on-going odor problems have been experienced in the Greater Pottstown Area since at least last September. Even though fines have been issued by DEP and Waste Management says it corrected the odor violation, residents continue to be plagued with periodic odors. It is illogical for DEP to even be considering a landfill expansion which would require an air permit for significant increases in more harmful air emissions, which would constitute another violation of federal health standards and further jeopardize the health of our community.
Ø Nothing has been done to address the federal requirement for reductions in Pottstown Landfill’s Title V permit. Yet, DEP is considering a permit amendment request for more increases and a three year extension for a Title V, five year air permit, which should have reflected decreases, according to national health standards. Pottstown Landfill’s Title V permit was drafted and agreed upon by Waste Management and DEP and issued only 14 months ago, after a lengthy review process.
Ø The Eastern Expansion air permit and emissions were omitted from Pottstown Landfill’s Title V permit. A Title V federal requirement is to combine all of a facility’s air permits into one Title V permit. You can’t pretend this is a different facility when it is emitting air at the same location, is an extension of the Pottstown Landfill, and is owned and operated by Waste Management. To claim otherwise, provides Waste Management with a loophole, which constitutes blatant disregard for federal law.
Ø A Pottstown Landfill permit is being considered which would legalize radioactive dumping in the Pottstown Landfill. Issues of our current exposure risk from radioactive Pottstown Landfill gas and leachate are still unanswered and unresolved. Issues of radiation filtration and monitoring of the gas and leachate have never been resolved.
Clean Air Act Violations
a. According to the Clean Air Act health based standards (National Ambient Air Quality Standards), because we live in a severe non-attainment area, reductions were required for criteria air emissions from major pollution sources like the Pottstown Landfill. DEP issued a Title V, five year air permit for the Pottstown Landfill, with INCREASES for NOx and other criteria emissions. DEP had the option, and in our case the obligation, to disapprove criteria emission increases. Instead of DEP requiring reductions, according to Clean Air Act health standards, DEP approved increases.
b. DEP failed to include all air permits for the Pottstown Landfill, as required
for Title V air permits. The Title V permit, issued January, 2002 failed
to include Pottstown Landfill’s Eastern Expansion, which had an air
permit and had been in operation since March of 1998.
Human Rights of Greater
DEP’s refusal to require reductions in Pottstown Landfill’s original Title V, five year air permit, issued in January, 2002, violated the rights of Greater
Questions and Concerns
Ø Why was a five year air permit issued with increases in criteria air emissions, instead of reductions, in this heavily populated community, located in a severe non-attainment area, where far too many residents are suffering from what appears to be a chemical plague?
DEP had a choice, yet chose not to protect us.
(2) “The Department may disapprove de minimis emissions increases at any time.”
DEP had the option and power to disapprove de minimis emissions increases for the Pottstown Landfill’s Title V permit, to protect the air and health in this severe non-attainment area, where people are already documented to have excessive health problems. DEP made a deliberate choice to further pollute our community in spite of the evidence.
Ø WHY did PA DEP ignore federal requirements to include all air permits for major pollution sources, in
Pottstown Landfill’s Title V, five year air permit was issued in January, 2002, “without” including the Eastern Expansion of the Pottstown Landfill. Pottstown Landfill’s Eastern Expansion permit was issued in February or March, 1998 and it was operational since March, 1998. The Eastern Expansion is owned and operated by Waste Management. There is no question that the Eastern Expansion is a section of the Pottstown Landfill. The Eastern Expansion contains waste which is producing regulated criteria air emissions and has an air permit. It is part of Pottstown Landfill’s TOTAL emission picture. There is no excuse for excluding it from a five year air permit for a major pollution source.
Ø Why would DEP even consider an amendment to a Title V permit which would extend the permit life another three years for a five year air permit, when DEP is currently reviewing a permit for expansion of that facility?
In essence, an amended Title V permit could be issued, which would extend the life of a five year permit by three years, which would be in effect when an expansion permit could be issued, for an expansion on top of an expansion, which has been excluded from the Title V permit in the first place. Sound confusing? Intentional? This is a disgrace!
Unacceptable outrage! DEP is willing to simply amend a five year air permit, 14 months after the fact. Fourteen months after a Title V permit was issued for the Pottstown Landfill, DEP and Waste Management are hiding behind calculations to modify a Title V permit, which was a clear violation of the Clean Air Act in the first place. DEP is prepared to simply allow Waste Management to legally increase NOx emissions again.
Something is very wrong with this picture. The “changed understanding” by DEP engineers is not an acceptable excuse. Ms. Carlini, you said DEP usually finds itself making an adjustment on figures provided an applicant. We ask WHY this is not found before a permit is issued? There was a lengthy review process and public hearing for this five year air permit. Waste Management and DEP had every opportunity to find any and all errors during this review process prior to issuance of the permit. Waste Management helped write this Title V permit. Waste Management agreed to it when DEP approved it. Miscalculations should have been found before the permit was issued.
25 Pa. Code #004 – Permit Renewal (d) “The permittee, upon becoming aware that any relevant facts were omitted or incorrect information was submitted in the permit application, shall submit such supplementary facts or corrected information during the permit renewal process.”
This clearly shows that there should be no need for permit modification; that the time to deal “changed understanding” was during the lengthy review process by DEP, not 14 months after the permit was issued.
Are you really telling us for over 14 months the Pottstown Landfill was emitting more NOx into our air from its turbines than was permitted in its Title V permit, and that you had no idea? And that now DEP’s answer is to simply amend the permit to reflect the increase, instead of requiring this facility to use the best safest pollution controls to abide by this agreed upon Title V permit and Clean Air Act requirements for reductions?
This is NOT a MINOR AMOUNT of NOx, which has been illegally emitted into our air by the
a total of 7.94 TONS per year more, which is in addition to much more than that.
In the life of a five year air permit that amounts to almost:
Ø 40 Tons ( 80,000 pounds ) INCREASE
This is in addition to:
Ø 123.85 TONS ( 247,700 pounds ) of NOx from the two turbines
Ø 86.05 TONS ( 172,100 pounds ) of NOx from the two flares
Ø 5 TONS ( 10,000 pounds ) potential de minimis emissions
Ø 254.90 Tons (509,800 Pounds)Total NOx emissions over the life of the permit
Inhaling NOx is documented by science to be hazardous to human health. NOx is suspected to be a TOXICANT for the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, reproductive, neurological and respiratory systems, as well as for blood itself, skin and sense organs. We strenuously object to a permit modification for the
In actuality, total NOx emissions could be much higher from
NOx is only one of hundreds of hazardous substances emitted into the air of Greater
Ms. Carlini, you stated that
Sadly, Waste Management presents CALCULATIONS as actual measurements. Who knows what amounts of criteria or hazardous air emissions we breathe from
Ms. Carlini, you ignored our repeated requests over the years to do the comprehensive continuous perimeter monitoring for the
Landfill gas is of ever changing constituents. Unless independent, comprehensive, continuous perimeter monitoring is done over a year’s time, there is no way to know what
25 Pa. Code #006 - Inspection and Entry “Sample or monitor substances or parameters, for the purpose of assuring compliance with the permit or applicable requirements as authorized by the Clean Air Act, the Air Pollution Control Act, or the regulations promulgated under the Acts.” Under the PA Public Right to Know, we are requesting all DEP sampling or monitoring reports for all substances or parameters since the new maximum amounts went into effect.
25 Pa. Code #007 – (a) The permittee shall comply with the conditions of this permit. Noncompliance with this permit constitutes a violation of the Clean Air Act and the Air Pollution Control Act and is grounds for (1) enforcement action, (2) permit termination, revocation and reissuance or modification, (3) denial of a permit renewal application.
DEP’s discretion in permitting decisions and the obvious lack of will to issue meaningful penalties for violations, or take enforcement action concerning
This abuse of discretion has been going on for a long time. For example:
Ø NOx emissions associated with the Permits in 1993 (46-322-006 and 46-322-005A) clearly exceeded the 100 tons per year. See letter of
Ø In a letter from John W. Fontaine to DEP
Ø What enforcement action, if any, was taken for the verified violation of VOCs? The violation was over 20 TONS. VOC s are a “regulated pollutant under National Ambient Air Quality Standards because VOCs are known to cause cancer and other serious illnesses, as well as increase health risks from ozone.” Still, for the illegal poisoning of our community with 20 TONS of extremely dangerous VOC’s, there wasn’t even a penalty to our knowledge. Please send us proof of any enforcement action for this VOC violation. If no enforcement action was taken by DEP, tell us why. (Inconceivably,
NOTE: In the newly proposed amendment to the Title V permit, VOC emissions do not appear to be listed for the flares. WHY?
Other permit violations have been ignored and which need to be addressed by DEP.
#001 – Prohibition of air pollution
“No person may permit air pollution as that term is defined in the Air Pollution Control Act (35 P.S. Section 4003).”
Pottstown Landfill has failed to prohibit its air pollution from becoming a major nuisance throughout the Greater Pottstown Community for over 6 months. DEP issued fines for some of these violations, yet the odors and air pollution continue. The fines did not go to the community which suffered from the intense and repeated odor violations. Pottstown Landfill violated the Air Pollution Control Act. For six months of severe off site odors, community members, especially children, suffered from severe headaches, sinus conditions, nausea, dizziness, burning throats, eyes, and noses. And now, DEP is considering rewarding Pottstown Landfill with an amended permit which will legalize an increase in air pollution. This is unacceptable.
#002 – Prohibition of certain fugitive emissions
No person may permit the emission into the outdoor atmosphere of a fugitive air contaminant from a source other than the following:
(f) (b) “That fugitive emissions from the source, after appropriate controls, meet the following requirements:”
(1) “The emissions are of minor significance with respect to causing air pollution.” We challenge DEP to prove that you can document with certainty the amount of fugitive emissions of the 300 acre
(2) “ The emissions are not preventing or inter facing with the attainment or maintenance of any ambient air quality standard.” If DEP has never independently documented the amount of fugitive emissions through continuous perimeter monitoring, then DEP can not accurately verify that air quality standards are met after interfacing with other pollutants.
Other issues with the Title V permit which need to addressed and amended:
1. Maximum input into both turbines is missing – turbines appear to be required to run much harder and faster.
2. Input volume on both flares is missing
3. VOC emissions from both flares is missing
4. Sulfur emissions – Original and new permits using different criteria
Original – No more than 100 ppm; New - .08% by weight
Is this the same amount?
4. DEP allows dilution of samples prior to sampling
5. No requirement for improvement of technology to reduce community health risks when we are talking about a five year permit and an already toxic damaged community
The Proposed Vertical Expansion
Ms. Carlini, you stated that “the amount of increase which would be permitted under the change now being considered would be insufficient to handle the increasing volume of NOx emissions which would likely accompany a landfill expansion. This little change is not going to accommodate an addition at the landfill.”
There is no excuse for permit revisions reflecting increases in five year air permits for major polluters in severe non-attainment areas, followed by revisions to add more 14 months later. To protect public health in the Greater Pottstown Area, DEP needs to abide by the Clean Air Act requirements. We need real reductions in criteria air emissions from Waste Management. DEP can’t simply be willing to change the permit to give Waste Management what ever it decides it needs for the
Code orange alerts for high levels of ozone were issued for the Greater
Is it any wonder Greater
There is something very wrong when DEP blatantly ignores federal laws and requirements to protect public health in permitting decisions for a toxic damaged community. Wealthy major polluters are not required to use the safest pollution control equipment to protect the public. Instead, DEP continuously amends permits and changes standards to fit the needs of the polluters. We are talking about air emissions which can and do affect the health of residents in our community, especially our children. Thousands of children attend 29 schools and day-care centers within 3 miles of the
For a better understanding until an EIS can be completed, ACE is requesting under the public right to know, all DEP air and gas testing records for Pottstown Landfill since 1997, and correspondence (including letters, faxes, e-mails, and notes), concerning ANY Pottstown Landfill gas or air testing, including interagency, Waste Management, Pottstown Landfill, and any of the labs who did this testing for DEP. We also ask for Waste Management’s quarterly stack testing reports for both turbines and flares and any and all correspondence concerning these reports, as well as any stack tests done by DEP.
We are asking to have all requested information under the PA Public Right to Know as soon as possible, and before any decision is made on revisions to the Title V permit, with 30 days to review and comment on this information, before any decision is made by DEP.
We ask for all fees to be waived for this information as we are a non-profit with limited funds, whose mission is to inform the public of our findings concerning these public records.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Dr. Lewis Cuthbert
Cc: Senator Specter
Douglass Berks Commissioners
EPA Administrator Whitman
EPA Administrator Region III
DEP Acting Secretary McGinty
PA Environmental Network
PA Sierra Club
Clean Air Council
P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464
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