Monday, July 16, 2018

Synagro stalls its application for sludge plant while remaining surplus waste heat goes up Green Knight Energy Center stacks

Synagro, Waste Management and the Green Knights are continuing the ruse that the proposed shit bakery in Plainfield Township is a “green” project.  The only thing green about it is the money that Synagro and Waste Management seek to roll into their coffers.  The Energy Center will be long gone before half the life of the initial Synagro plant has passed.  You can bet that a new, larger shit plant will take its place once the Energy Center is closed and waste heat is not to be had.

During the May 31 planning commission review of Synagro’s proposal, Synagro representative Jim Hecht admitted that the Synagro plant could be profitable running on 100% natural gas - which is conveniently available on the target property.  The truth is, Synagro doesn’t need Green Knight’s waste heat, or the poor quality landfill gas that comes off the landfill.  What Synagtro desperately needs is a plot of land where a crap bakery can be located.  And Waste Management would love to lease land to Synagro for decades to keep the landfill property producing income - even if it means breaking an agreement with Plainfield Township to give back use of township land after the landfill closes.  And Green Knight, which is supposed to benefit the local citizens not screw them, is a participant in this charade.  As landfill family relative Lisa Perin pointed out, once Synagro is there, they will find a way to never leave because sites to locate such a nuisance operation are extremely hard to find. .  Ms. Perin was unaware when she stated this that there is natural gas already there on the property - but she saw through the obvious ruse that has been spun together in promoting this project.

To date, meetings to review the project have been dedicated to Synagro.  Each meeting has run three hours or more.  Now, Synagro has slowed its proposal to a creepy crawl, by demanding that it only be reviewed during regular planning commission meetings.  This means that Synagro’s project will be reviewed on agendas comingled with other regular business.  Completing the review could take a few more months at this rate.
Will Synagro/Waste Management/Green Knight's golden turn take flight July 15?  Not with an agenda packed so tightly it is constipated

Synagro has supplied a stenographer at the last two planning commission meetings - an intimidation tactic unheard of for a planning review.  There is nothing that is “good faith” about this.  A tape recorder would be a lot cheaper, but cost is no object to Synagro and Waste Management.  On Monday night, there are several items on the agenda, and Synagro is last.  Will Synagro’s stenographer be sitting in the audience, being paid along with its attorneys and consultants for waiting for their turn?

The waste heat of the Energy Center will disappear when landfill gas is no longer generated following the closure of the landfill ten to twelve years from now.  Synagro’s proposal is 20 months old now.  Synagro is apparently in no rush to capture and use the waste heat that Green Knights claims is so valuable, and less and less of it is available as time passes.  A lot can be accomplished in three hours, hardly anything in one hour.  The ruse is falling apart.  Cut the shit boys - your underbelly is showing and it isn’t pretty.

Zoning review scheduled to be discussed Monday night
The township zoning review found several items that need to be addressed in Synagro's application, as well as zoning variances.  This review is scheduled to be completed this evening, time permitting.  Also, Deputy Director Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware River Keeper is scheduled to make comments she was unable to complete at the May 31 meeting due to lack of time.  For over a year, Synagro has been on notice that it does not have the road access to its lot required by the zoning ordnance.  Yet Synagro has not filed an application for the variance needed.  It also proposes to locate its processing plant, raw shit storage, finished shit storage, and trucking of shit all within 50 feet of a deep quarry filled with water.  

PA legislators reviewing solid waste standards as relates to the dumping of waste from out of state
At a July 9 hearing at Wind Gap Middle School, Senator Scavello held a senate hearing to discuss quarries and the ability to easily contaminate the aquifers connected with them.  The hearing was focused on the dumping of waste from NY, CT and NJ into quarries, but the principle of dumping out of state hazardous waste in proximity to a quarry is the same.  You can see a video and submitted written testimony at this link.

Concerned citizens may wish to have a late dinner, and show up at the Plainfield Township Fire Hall at 8:30 to 9 pm to see Synagro’s portion of the meeting.  Synagro does not want you to hear, see or speak at their review - which is why they have demanded to be at a regular meeting that will go for a few hours before their project is discussed.  Don’t fall for showing up promptly at 7pm, getting irritated and impatient and leaving at 8:30 because they haven’t come up yet..  This is what Synagro, Waste Management and Green Knights wants.  Public participation is your right.

As seen below, there is one item of new business, and four items of old business, with Synagro last of the old business.  Synagro demanded to be at this meeting, instead of having a review dedicated to Synagro.  Draw your own conclusions.  Need  a pencil?  A crayon?

Synagro and Waste Management demanded to be on the following crowded agenda, instead of continuing to have dedicated review sessions

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Northampton County, proposed home of Synagro poop plant, moves to ban biosolids/sludge on county owned lands

Reported by

Click picture to read article

According to the article, the county will request those signing contracts to farm county-owned lands to agree to not apply shit (bisolids) onto them.  Note that it is legal to spread shit on farmland, as long as the owner agrees to it.  Executive McClure is apparently charting a course to not agree to it.

Also, future participants in the Northampton County Farmland Preservation program will be asked to voluntarily not apply it - since these people will continue to own the land, they can't be forced to not spread the shit.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Cancellation of June 18, 2018 Synagro poop bakery land development review meeting

The regular meeting of the Plainfield Township Planning Commission scheduled for June 18 at the Plainfield Township Fire Hall has been cancelled due to lack of a quorum.  The proctologist's exmination of the application will continue at a meeting on a date TBD.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Watchdog Delaware Riverkeeper actively monitoring Synagro’s sludge plant application for Grand Central/Waste Management property in Plainfield Township

Next meeting this coming Monday see right margin for details

At the May 31 Plainfield Township planning commission’s continuation of its review of Synagro’s land development plan to locate a crap bakery on Grand Central Sanitary Landfill property, there were several citizens who wished to participate in asking questions of the Applicant and/or making comments on the proposal.  Time became short, as there was a lengthy list of speakers, and they were well prepared and took several minutes each at the podium.  If time permits their comments will be summarized in a post.

While all the speakers had excellent questions and informed points, there were two speakers of note also for who they are.  One was Lisa Perin, granddaughter of the founder of the Grand Central landfill.  She had a lot to say, 99% negative, about Synagro’s proposal.  That will also be covered in a separate post.  Essentially her points were once Synagro is in the township they will never leave because it is virtually impossible to find a site for such a plant, and the cost of hosting a Synagro facility will far outweigh any alleged benefit to Plainfield Township or the other communities affected.

Ms. Perin is a beautiful woman, but she spent her 10 minutes at the podium
bitch-slapping Synagro's proposed poop bakery

Ms. Carluccio had only a few minutes but summed up her preliminary thoughts with
"It's pretty outrageous this application has gotten this far"

While Ms. Perin was able to cover all her points, the other speaker of note, Tracy Carluccio, was not due to time constraints.  Few people in the room may have known who she is or even after she announced she is number two at the Delaware Riverkeeper what the significance of that may be.  Synagro should - the Delaware Riverkeeper recently assisted residents of Upper Mount Bethel Township in winning a settlement to prevent Class B biosolids from being spread by Synagro on three properties in the township.  While Pennsylvania is fairly lax in regards to permitting the application of biosolids, in the case of UMBT there are streams on the properties in question, which allowed for such a settlement to be possible.

The Delaware Riverkeeper gets involved in all kinds of projects that may have an impact on the environment, especially as pertains to the Delaware River Basin.  One example is the East Penn Pipeline.  Riverkeeper is on it.  Since water flows downstream, if a water course can be traced back from the Delaware to a creek with headwaters near a proposed sludge plant (for example), that might be very well be squarely in the crosshairs of the Riverkeeper.  As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to follow any one project, and there are a lot of projects.  The Riverkeeper has a fairly large staff, including its own in-house attorneys.

What practical effect can the Riverkeeper have?  A great one.  In the case of UMBT, a small group of citizens got together and appealed the DEP permit for the application of sludge on the farms in question - Class B requires a permit.  A legal challenge of a decision of the DEP is not done in the usual court system of court of common pleas and Commonwealth Court - there is a special body called the Environmental Hearing Board that hears such appeals.  As the citizens' appeal was moving along, it gained the attention of the Delaware Riverkeeper, which intervened after a significant amount of resources had already been invested. Interestingly the DEP Northeast Region Biosolids Permit manager Timothy Craven testified under oath that he was not aware of what the Delaware River Basin’s standards were for discharges that include runoff from biosolids.  This is damning because the DEP is responsible for enforcing the DRBC’s standards.  The River Keeper and citizens won a settlement with the DEP in which it was agreed DEP would never approve the spreading of Class B biosolids on the farms in question, that DEP would change its standard operating procedures in regards to permitting and monitoring the application of biosolids, and the awarding of legal fees.  Note on page 5 that Attorney Jordan Yeager was enlisted by the Riverkeeper and citizens - Yeager won a very notable case at the PA Supreme Court in the last few years, in which something called the Environmental Rights Amendment took center stage.  Yeager's services are in high demand across Pennsylvania by people and townships fighting water extraction, poop processing, fracking, etc.  In this case, Yeager and the Riverkeeper teamed up to obtain an excellent result for the appellants.

Ms. Carluccio was given very little time to speak.  She was able to quickly correct a very significant misrepresentation that Synagro project representative Pam Racey made.  Earlier Ms. Racey had stated on questioning that in the event a truck back hauling waste water from Synagro is refused offloading at its destination, that a plant in South Jersey is Synagro’s “go-to” and it “will dispose of anything.”   Ms. Carluccio pointed out that this facility closed a year and a half ago.  Ms. Racey had trouble answering many questions with specificity, and in this case she was specific and very wrong.  One speaker pointed out that for someone with 30 years of experience, Ms. Racey did not seem very knowledgeable.  Multiple meeting attendees later agreed they saw this as well.

Through Ms. Carluccio's appearance she put everyone on notice that the Riverkeeper is actively engaged in reviewing Synagro’s proposal, and all of the regulatory applications that have been filed.  On the Riverkeeper’s website, it has links to these materials, as well as a “fact sheet” on Synagro and updates on Synagro’s proposal.

The actual Riverkeeper - Maya K. van Rossum

What this means is that the Riverkeeper is currently lodged in Synagro’s butt hole.  If a permit is issued by DEP, and the Riverkeeper believes there is a justification to challenge it, it is quite possible that the organization will participate in an initial appeal to the EHB.  The Riverkeeper has members in Wind Gap, Pen Argyl and Plainfield Township, so it has standing in people as well as its general commitment to the environment.

Riverkeepeer is the last organization Synagro wants sniffing around its backside

There is a two-pronged legal defense emerging.  At the May 31st meeting township Solicitor Backenstoe made it crystal clear that the township is standing behind its position that Synagro requires zoning relief - zoning relief that it is not entitled to since the property in question is already generating generous income to Waste Management.  Synagro has stubbornly refused to file an application for the variances that have been determined to be required.  Zoning Hearing Board decisions are appealed through the court of common pleas, then to the state, and in rare cases to the state supreme court.  Any DEP permit issued may be appealed to the Environmental Hearing Board.  Thus there are two avenues of appeal available.

A Plainfield Township official has confirmed that Ms. Carluccio and any other citizen who was not able to complete their comments at the May meeting will be given an opportunity to speak at the beginning of the continuation of the Synagro review on Monday June 18 (see sidebar on right margin).  One can assume she will have very educated commentary on the application, to which the Riverkeeper is obviously opposed. This assumes that there is time for Synagro’s application to be addressed.  This is a regular meeting of the planning commission and there are other items on the agenda (below) before Synagro.
  1. Taco Bell (tabled and they are not expected to appear)
  2. Minor Subdivision (residential property wishing to subdivide to 2 lots)
  3. Green Knight Industrial Park II (see article tomorrow on what this may entail if Green Knight appears - hint: Green Knight has a groundbreaking on this project scheduled for June 22, but they have no recorded land development plan.  Will they appear to address contentious outstanding issues before a room full of residents waiting to discuss Synagro?)
  4. Synagro
The official meeting agenda for Monday is here.

This blogger’s guess is that the minor subdivision may take 1/2 hour to 1 hour minimum.  It’s anyone’s guess if Green Knight will have the balls to show up at this venue, even though they have a dog and pony show scheduled for June 22.  History says they really don’t care about recorded plans - look at how they built the Green Knight Energy Center contrary to the recorded plan, and are in violation of it to this day.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Small community that successfully fought Nestle Waters/Deer Park sees four notable residents pass on in four months

Imagine the stories all those who experienced a creek could tell

In 2016, Nestle Waters yanked its application for an ill-conceived water extraction operation to be located along the Buckwha Creek in Kunkletown, Eldred Township.  Eldred residents had pulled together in solidarity to fight the proposal.  At the first township meeting this blogger attended, Helen Mackes and Frank O'Donnell were present.  Helen was a long time member of the township planning commission, and Frank O'Donnell the chairman of the zoning hearing board.  Frank and his wife Marion routinely attended township meetings, and warmly welcomed this blogger and outsider in the cheap seats at the back of the Eldred Township meeting room.

At another meeting, I met Earl Smale, who grew up adjacent to the proposed site for the Nestle operation, and whose father Leon still owned the family house on Kunkletown Road, at ground zero along the Buckwha Creek.  Leon was in a senior living facility nearby.

During researching the background of the site and its property lines - at issue in the application, the name Asher Smith popped up, because Mr. Smith had obtained property from the owners of the old mill decades ago.  This blogger paid no further attention to Mr. Smith, as his name never came up again.  Mr. Smith was in fact living in another senior living facility nearby.

The reader needs to understand, most everything is connected in K-town.  If you moved in later than 1950, you are a newcomer.  Many family names have a lengthy history.  The names Smale and Smith go way back.  Asher grew up on the farm where the Jaeckles now live, up on Church Road past St. Matthews Church and the cemetery where the headstones are evidence of those who labored in decades past.  Another senior K-town son, Vernon Barlieb, dug several of these graves in his youth for less than $20 a day.  It was not dirt that was dug - it was shale.

Kunkletown residents are a hard working and hearty bunch with far-reaching roots, and it is with heaviness that I report that Helen Mackes 87, Frank O'Donnell 81, Leon Smale 90 and Asher Smith 93 passed away in the past 4 months.

Ms. Mackes was a Realtor, factory worker and most recently the tax collector.  She was also a historian, and when the old mill was recently torn down, Helen sat observing for 5 hours.  She was certain that grinding stones would be found, but alas none were left.  When Helen got something in her mind, she stuck to it.  She shared with a fellow observer that day that when she disliked someone, it lasted for life.  This blogger can vouch for this, during the relatively brief time I knew Helen.  Some K-town residents were surprised to see that in Helen's obituary she had a daughter.  This is actually the daughter of Gabby Borger and his wife.  After Gabby passed away in 1977, circumstances were such that this daughter, less than 10 years old, ended up a bit of an orphan.  Helen stepped in and evidently was such an influence on her life that the woman is now considered Helen's daughter - reflecting that Helen had a big heart.

Mr. O'Donnell was a maintenance engineer and carpenter, and he was the president of the Blue Mt. Preservation Association.

Mr. Smale was affectionately known as the "mayor" of Kunkletown.  He was a World War II Army veteran.  He worked for many years as a crane operator, and in retirement drove trucks and a was a school bus in Eldred Township

Mr. Smith was known as the "police chief" of Kunkletown, and a World War II Navy veteran.  He drove buses in the morning, was a carpenter and in the afternoons ran a barber shop.  That's a full plate, and indicative of the work ethic of many of K-town's residents.

While the Nestle affair roiled Kunkletown, it was a brief and turbulent blip on the radar that will soon be largely forgotten.  Ms. Mackes, Mr. O'Donnell, Mr. Smale and Mr. Smith left a lasting legacy and whose spirits are an indestructible part of the fabric of a tightly knit community - a community whose past and future are inextricably intertwined with the ever-meandering Buckwha Creek.  Gone but not forgotten.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Poop finally to hit the fan in Synagro & Waste Management Plainfield Township crap bakery land development plan review Thursday evening

In November, Synagro's attorney Elizabeth Witmer told the Plainfield Township planning commission "we are planning to submit a land development plan that requires no variances.  It will comply with the zoning ordinance."

This did not happen.  In February, Synagro did submit a land development plan - well, Waste Management did in its own name, with Synagro as its tenant.  But that plan does not comply with the zoning ordinance.  The Zoning Office determined that at least four variances are needed.  Two of these are significant: the proposed site is not accessed from a collector or arterial road as required, and the setback from a water body (pond) must be at least 50 feet.  The driveway and parking for Synagro's plant are proposed to be *in* the existing pond.

Also at the November planning commission review, Ms. Witmer stated that Synagro was proposing to meet with the Plainfield Township supervisors in private in order to propose a "swap" whereby Plainfield Township would "trade" a portion of its Recreational Trail that Synagro needs for access to its plant, for other lands that the township may be interested in to complete trail connections.  This blogger has learned that Plainfield Township Solicitor David Backenstoe has stated "the supervisors were not interested in such a discussion, so that meeting never happened."

At the April review, the township engineer's review letter was reviewed, and the planning commission members asked questions.  Synagro's representatives addressed concerns of the township engineer and planning commission members to the best of their ability.  Concerned citizens were given an opportunity to speak.  One nugget that resulted was Synagro abruptly announced that contrary to what it had stated only a few months earlier, that the hours trucks will depart from/arrive at the site was significantly expanded.  Synagro admitted during the meeting that tarps that cover the trucks hauling shit will do nothing to retard odors.

There are two remaining review letters, a short one from the township's environmental engineering consultant BCM Engineers, and a lengthy one from the township Zoning Office.  In addition, the township recenty enlisted BCM to review all the regulatory agency applications that Synagro/Waste Management has submitted - this is an supplementary review that will need to be discussed when time permits - likely not at Thursday evening's review.

It is expected that on Thursday evening the zoning variances that the township has determined are required will be discussed at length.  It was announced that again, concerned citizens will be able to speak   Synagro representative Jim Hecht stated at a recent community event that residents will also be able to ask questions at a prescribed portion of Thursday's meeting.

To date, no variance applications have reportedly been filed by Synagro/Waste Management.  Thus, it appears that at Thursday's meeting there will be a Mexican standoff.  At the end of the day however, if variances are required there is only one solution - apply for them to the Zoning Hearing Board.  The township will lay out its case for why variances are needed.  At the April review, planner Bob Simpson smiled and rolled his eyes when a consultant for Synagro stated "we don't believe it is a pond".  Mr. Simpson designs storm water facilities for a living.  He questioned the Applicant about infiltration and outflow (there is none), and it was apparent to observers that he believes it is a pond.  This is significant because a pond would be the kind of water body that the ordinance requires a 50 foot setback from.  As for the "road" - the access drive that Waste Management uses, which Synagro's trucks would be added to, is certainly not a road.  In addition, there was never a land development or site plan approved for the Green Knight Energy Center to have a driveway across Plainfield Township's Recreational Trail - which is how vehicles currently access the energy center - and this route is proposed to also be used by Synagro.  This is likely to be discussed as well at Thursday's review.

The water body in question is being used as a sedimentation basin for the landfill, as well as catching storm water runoff.  It is quite deep (former Doney Quarry) and must seep into an aquifer, and there is no outflow.  It could be an artificial lake or an artificial pond - either way it is a water body.  Cut the shit.

The Synagro proposal has a few logs in its path - another is regulatory approvals.  Plainfield Township has reportedly filed a request with the DEP for a forum to be held locally, at which citizens can comment and speak their concerns as part of the DEP permitting process.

The review of Synagro/Waste Management's proposal is a process.  Thursday evening may be a watershed of sorts.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Synagro quietly announces trucking operations will take place an additional 25 hours weekly at proposed Plainfield Township facility

At the November 29, 2017 review of Synagro's sketch plan, Synagro representative Jim Hecht was questioned about operating hours, and hours trucks would enter and exit the site.  He was also questioned about the amount of space available for storage of raw material (piles of crap).  Mr Hecht did not seem totally comfortable with the questions, and appeared genuinely confused why they were being asked.

The reason the questions were asked is that beginning at least in April 2017 at a Q&A session hosted by Synagro, Mr. Hecht stated that trucks will enter and leave the site during the hours that Grand Central operates, 7am-4pm M-F and 7am-9am on Saturday.  The plant would run 24/7.

At 400 tons of raw product daily, a hell of a lot of crap would have to be stored so that processing could continue from 9am Saturday to 7am on Monday - almost 800 tons.  300 tons of water is removed from 400 tons of sludge, and beginning in November 2017 Synagro stated it would store and haul waste water off site. Why the concept of storage of both solids and liquids and operating hours was foreign to Mr. Hecht is a bit of a concern - it is obvious what the issue is.

After the November review, Mr. Hecht wrote a follow-up letter on December 12, 2017, confirming that the hours trucks would operate were as discussed at the November meeting, 7am-4pm M-F and 7am-9am Sat..  Here is the letter - but a warning - what he states in it changed by February's meeting.

At the February 2018 Land Development review of the latest and greatest Synagro plan, Mr. Hecht was questioned again about operating hours and his reply changed to 6am to 6pm M-S, six days a week.  Huh, so there was an issue.  Mr. Hecht is the "project developer"!

In the December letter, Mr. Hecht states that raw product will arrive "covered" and much is stated about odor control on site.  At the February 2018 meeting, it was admitted that the "cover" on incoming trucks is a tarp, which will not control odors during transportation on local roads.

Waste Management appears to be planning to not honor its commitment to relinquish use of the Plainfield Township Recreational Trail segment that it was graciously allowed to temporarily use by agreement in 1997.  What else will change by the time this proposal's review is complete?  The addition of 25 more hours that trucks will operate is a very significant detail - one that Mr. Hecht got wrong as recently as December 2017.