Action Alerts:

The Alliance For A Clean Environment

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DEP File Review Process Denies The Public Information

ACE is urging you to help us get the necessary public information to prepare for the two DEP public hearings on Pottstown Landfill expansion.

PA DEP’s mission is to protect PA’s Air, Land, and Water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment. DEP is getting paid with our tax dollars to protect public health and safety and has failed in its mission. DEP has turned into an agency to collect fees from polluting industries to hand out pollution permits, regardless of the effects on public health and safety.

It has become necessary for PA citizens to volunteer their time to do their own investigative work concerning polluting facilities that request major pollution permit modifications and/or new pollution permits. PA citizens have been forced to gather accurate documentation to present at DEP’s public hearings, just to try to stop the poisoning of their air, water, soil, food, and the slow destruction of their health.

In addition to DEP failing to protect the health and safety of PA citizens, PA DEP denies PA citizens access to public information through unreasonable fees for necessary copies and time limitations to do comprehensive file reviews. Charging non-profit groups or private citizens, who can not afford to acquire the documents necessary to try to protect themselves, is an injustice of major proportion.

The outcome of these permit applications from polluting industries will affect the health, safety, and quality of life of all people in their communities forever.

ACE is in essence being denied information we need to adequately prepare for the two public hearings, concerning four Waste Management permit applications for the Pottstown Landfill.

Just one example of prohibitive costs to obtain crucial public documents:
    • DEP charges 50 cents per copy on microfiche files and 15 cents per copy for all others. As with most groups throughout PA fighting to protect the air, water, and health of PA residents, ACE is a non-profit with EXTREMELY limited funds. We do not have the resources to pay to get the copies we will need to adequately prepare for the public hearings on Waste Management’s permit applications for the Pottstown Landfill.

    • Consider the scope of investigation necessary. There are 187 files on the Pottstown Landfill (many under different names). Each file can contain hundreds of pages.
Example: Need, But Inability To Obtain, DEP’s Public Information

Waste Management has claimed that the Pottstown Landfill does not, and has not, accepted hazardous waste. This is inaccurate. ACE needs to produce the evidence for the upcoming public hearings. To do this we need to be able to obtain hundreds of pages from the hazardous waste files at DEP in Conshohocken.

There are 49 files at DEP called Module 1.
    • Module 1 files contain requests to treat, store, or dispose of a HAZARDOUS WASTE STREAM.

    • Each of the 49 files can contain hundreds of documents which ACE believes we need to prove the absurdity of Waste Management’s claim that the wastes dumped in the Pottstown Landfill are not hazardous.

    • DEP informed ACE that 42 of the 49 files are on microfiche.

    • DEP informed ACE we will have to pay 50 cents per page to obtain any page from the 42 microfiche files.

    • DEP informed ACE we will have to pay 15 cents per page for any pages out of the other 7 files Module 1 HAZARDOUS waste files.

    • DEP informed ACE there is no way to get the fee waived for this public information which could help us to inform our community about the truth of what went into the Pottstown Landfill.
ACE is a non-profit which in no way can pay for this information which is vital to fighting still another Pottstown Landfill expansion. DEP has in essence denied ACE access to this public information which we want to help protect public health in our community.

Those 49 files are not the only files ACE will need to review and copy for the 4 current Waste Management permits for the Pottstown Landfill.

There are 14 Form U files. These are files containing hazardous substances which were no longer called hazardous waste after 1993, but instead renamed to residual waste. There are requests to process or dispose of residual wastes which contain hazardous substances - prime example of linguistic detoxification.

To do the best job we can to try to protect our community from being dumped on again, ACE needs to review the remaining 124 Pottstown Landfill files.
    • DEP limits the number of days files can be reviewed.

    • DEP limits the number of hours per day – Can’t work through lunch.

    • Even if a PA citizen or group had enough money, only 100 pages of copies per day are permitted. Given the size of Waste Management files, DEP denies citizens public information by their process, as well as the fee.
We need your help to get DEP’s fee waived. We need your help to change DEP’s file review process, to allow as much time as citizens can commit, to review as many files as possible.

DEP’s file review process previously denied ACE the ability to review the 187 files and copy important information on Waste Management’s Pottstown Landfill, prior to the Title V public hearing on that five year air permit. We urge you to help ACE in any way you can, to obtain complete availability to public information, to try to protect tens of thousands of people in the Greater Pottstown Area, whose health and safety can be adversely affected by future Pottstown Landfill expansions.

Private citizens have been forced to defend their communities. DEP’s file review process needs to be changed to allow all PA citizens free access and availability to all information necessary in order for them to fight the difficult battles for clean, safe air, water, soil, and a health future.

P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464

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