Thursday, September 13, 2018

Plainfield Township files state court appeal of DEP decision in regards to proposed Synagro biosolids plant on Waste Management land

As reported here, Roger Bellas within the Solid Waste division of the PA Department of Environmental Protection issued a determination on August 10, 2018 that former Doney Quarry #2 would continue to enjoy a waiver of a permit that would be otherwise be required under an exception located in PA Chapter 105.12(a)(6).  The departments of Solid Waste and Mining back around 2008 approved this water body to be considered a "sedimentation basin", shortly after the quarry ceased all operations.

It may have not been a big deal at the time, because "all" that was proposed would be to continue to handle some stormwater from the Green Knight Energy Center, and some runoff from the landfill.

The problem is, there is no evidence that the former quarry was in fact engineered or designed as a sedimentation basin.  Thomas Pullar of EarthRes, Synagro's engineer, claims that it was in a June 26, 2018 email to Mr. Bellas.  Mr. Bellas dutifully parroted this back in his August 10 determination letter.  But the documentation that Synagro has submitted does not support the claim.

A sedimentaion basin slowly filters water before it is released.  The sediment is periodically removed.  There is no such activity known to occur in Doney Quarry #2 - it is a pond connected to an aquifer.  The exchange takes place immediately.  No one is running out and removing sediment.  A sedimentation basin has a spillway so that when it releases water to the surface it is controlled.  Doney Quarry #2 had a spillway planned, but it was never built because the quarry connects with an aquifer and will likely never overflow unless a 500 year storm strikes.  It simply isn't a sedimentation basin.

Synagro's runoff - we all live downstream

Furthermore, the proposed Synagro plant is located 5 to 10 feet from the edge of the former quarry, according to statements made by EarthRes engineer David Allen, P.E. at the September 6, 2018 Synagro Land Development Review before the township planning commission.  Despite claims by Synagro that "no Industrial Activity poses a risk to the pond," and "the only drainage to the pond is sheet flow from a parking area," Synagro's plan shows the exact opposite - the parking area in question is downgrade of the driveway adjacent to the building, which is downgrade of the silos of finished shit, and the truck wash and delivery of shit areas.  "Sheet flow" is when water flows across a surface in a thin layer as opposed to more concentrated flow in a pipe or creek, for example.  What Synagro describes as "sheet flow" will actually be "shit flow".  You just could not make this shit up.

The township's position will be, maybe you approved this activity in 2008, but you can't extend it to the proposed change.  Now there will be heaping piles of shit and shit runoff located literally within the boundary of the existing quarry.  Not stormwater, not water flowing over the top of a landscaped landfill.  Actually, if you read the appeal (below), the township is arguing that DEP screwed the pooch big time back in 2008.

 DEP does excel at something

What is needed is for the Wetlands and Water departments at DEP to make the current determination, not Solid Waste and Mining.

Plainfield Township appeals August 10, 2018 DEP determination

First strike launched by Plainfield Township in battle over baked crap factory

On September 11, 2018 Plainfield Township filed an appeal of Mr. Bellas' decision to the PA Environmental Hearing Board.  This is huge.  The EHB is a court that hears appeals of matters that involve the DEP, instead of the Commonweath Court.  The EHB is very powerful - including the ability to effectively change law when necessary (not likely here).  The outcome of this is significant, because if the township prevails the pond and surrounding areas would be protected, as well as the township being better able to enforce its riparian and open space requirements.  As it stands, DEP has essentially given Synagro the green light to do whatever the hell it pleases right on top of clean water.  The docket at the EHB is located at this link.  Here is the notice of appeal - the grounds are on the last few pages and the appeal can be amended within 20 days:

Appeal by Plainfield Township of DEP determination freshwater pond can be filled 
with sediment and other shit

Here is a link to the Appeal PDF at the Environmental Hearing Board, that you may download or print: APPEAL

Thursday, September 6, 2018

PA DEP takes cover in extending waiver granted in 2008 to Waste Management to Synagro at planned biosolids site - Plainfield Township pushes back

A few years after the Green Knight Energy Center was built, the PA Department of Environmental Protection (a misnomer) approved the partial filling of the former Doney Quarry #2 near the energy center.  This quarry was originally a few hundred feet deep, and is connected to a ground water aquifer.  Within a few hundred feet are the Waltz Creek and the headwaters of the Little Bushkill Creek.

In issuing this approval in 2008, DEP granted a waiver of permit requirements under Chapter 105.12(a)(6) - which addresses obstructing stormwater facilities and sedimentation basins that meet the requirements of Chapter 102.  Now, DEP is planning to extend the same waiver for Synagro to allow it to further fill the basin in order to create space for a parking lot and maneuvering area, under the guise of "we did it before."  Here is a letter sent from Roger Bellas of the DEP to Synagro/Waste Management on this subject:

Note that attached to the Bellas letter is an email in which Synagro engineer EarthRes mentions open space requirements as well as refers to the water body as a basin that was originally "engineered".  Synagro is attempting to argue the basin is just a stormwater feature and that (local) open space requirements do not apply.  In response, Bellas's letter parrots that "engineering" was done back in 2008, and as a result again the basin will be exempt a permit under Chapter 105.12(a)(6).  What if Bellas is taking the Applicant word for it here?  The DEP is overworked and understaffed - could Bellas have drafted this letter, signed off, and headed out for a two hour lunch?  But DEP does find that the basin a "regulated water body" (not just a detention basin, which would not be regulated) and states that Chapter 105 otherwise applies.  DEP is not in a position to preempt Plainfield Township's buffer requirements adjacent to ponds, which is what the former quarry now is.

Plainfield Township is requiring a zoning variance, since there is a 50' setback requirement from water bodies.  But Plainfield Township is further concerned about the fact that the pond is connected to the aquifer, and that there may be other considerations (wetlands, etc) that should be taken into consideration in determining if a DEP permit should in fact be required under Chapter 105.  The township's wetlands consultant issued a report found at the bottom of this blog post.  Here is a letter sent by the township to Mr. Bellas at DEP following his communication to Synagro/Waste Management, which does not mention the consultant's report but incorporates its findings:

The township is essentially challenging the DEP's voracity in its determination that the proposed activities are exempt from a permit, and that "engineering" was done in 2008.  Is this based on EarthRes' claim in its letter that engineering was done?  What if DEP just granted the waiver in 2008, without doing its homework?  This would not be unheard of, and DEP has made other errors in allowing quarries to be filled.

Notable errors PA DEP has made in permitting filling of other quarries local to Synagro site
In 2011, the DEP issued a permit that allowed a quarry near Nestle Deer Park's wells in Washington Township, Northampton County to be filled, and this process contaminated the water drawn from Nestle's wells.  DEP then withdrew said permit.  To this day, Nestle operates an "interceptor well" that diverts water from the aquifer flowing from this quarry towards Nestle's production wells.  Here is the DRBC approval for the interceptor well (see underlined text on page 3):

In about 2000, DEP approved the Buzzi Unicem quarry to be mined to an additional 50' of depth.  Within a few years, sinkholes began developing along the Bushkill Creek.  A few houses were swallowed/destroyed, as well as the bridge connecting Stockertown and Tatamy, which will not be replaced - partly because no one has a clue how to do it with Swiss Cheese for ground.  Sinkholes have spread as far as 2 miles downstream.  Two bridges on Route 33 over the creek were replaced at a cost of millions of dollars, and at least one of the "new" bridges is sinking and will need to be replaced.  Yeah - DEP is on top of it, and we're all underneath getting pounded.

The basis for what the township is requesting of DEP
The township references a section of Chapter 105.12(a) that provides for permits to be required in cases where threats to life, health, property or the environment are present, even though a project may be eligible for a waiver.  This request may result in DEP agreeing a jurisdictional determination is required, starting the ball rolling to real evaluations of the pond, its surrounding area, and interaction with the aquifer.

What could happen if DEP simply ignores Plainfield's request, and follows through in not requiring a permit under Chapter 105, and a permit is issued by DEP for the landfill modification that adds Synagro's use?   Plainfield and/or the Delaware Riverkeeper could appeal that issuance to the PA Environmental Hearing Board, if they believe the DEP's decisions are not based on sound analysis.

The swords are out.  DEP is taking the side of big money.  There will be a public hearing held locally by DEP, to allow citizens to give their input on this project.  This should occur within the next few months.  If DEP has not altered its position on this issue prior to the hearing, citizens need to add their voices to that of the township.  Protect our water.  You know, you are responsible for environmental protection.  Duh!

Monday, September 3, 2018

How Synagro's proposed biosolids crap bakery in Plainfield Township could more than double in size overnight

Synagro is having fits trying to wedge itself into a postage-stamp sized piece of property in Plainfield Township, Northampton County PA.  It proposes to process 400 tons of shit a day, within about 20 feet of a deep pond that is connected to a ground aquifer.  Also within a few hundred feet of the site are two high quality creeks, the Little Bushkill and Waltz.

As bad as this sounds, it is the flurry before the real shit storm strikes - the knockout blow.  When the landfill closes, within a few years the landfill gas coming from the landfill will no longer be sufficient to operate the Green Knight Energy Center.  At that time, the energy center can be torn down, creating more room to store and process shit.

In the "Lease Plan" (below), Synagro will use 7.8 acres, the energy center 3.2 acres and common areas between them 1.05 acres.  That is just over 12 acres.  12.05 to be exact.

Future expansion possibilities

As Synagro project manager James Hecht has admitted and Green Knight board member Steven Hurni has stated, Synagro does not need the energy center's waste energy - which will no longer be available in about 11 years.  The "green" aspect of this proposal has been soundly debunked.  The real green is decades of income off shit, perhaps a century of shit.  Plainfield Township, Wind Gap and Pen Argyl will become the tri-shitty capital of northeastern PA.

Plainfield Township's zoning ordinance requires 3 acres to run a shit factory up to 300 tons capacity a year, and 2 acres for each additional 100 tons.  A little math shows that a 12 acre site will allow up to 850 tons a day to be processed.  1.7 million pounds of shit a day.

 What could possibly be worse than this?

¡Ay, caramba!

If they can't get approval for the current application because the limited space and proximity to the pond suck ass, Synagro and Waste Management may become desperate and plow down the energy center now.  Public relations wise, not the best move, but Waste Management and Synagro each have a history of giving a flying frig about public relations.  What would the community lose?  One job at the most at the energy center, and Green Knights is doing virtually nothing for the "poor and distressed local citizens" as it is - they aren't fulfilling their mission.  A few contractors who are on Green Knights will lose potential business, but casualties are to be expected and Waste Management will likely not hesitate to toss the Green Knights under the bus.  Most people see the Green Knights as just a department under Waste Management anyway.

Clearly, worst case is when the landfill closes, Waste Management truck traffic will shift from hauling garbage to hauling more shit.  The writing is on the wall.

Enjoy your Labor Day ;)

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Green Knight Economic Development Corporation member observes "Synagro Slate Belt Heat Recovery Center doesn't need our waste heat"

The Green Knight Energy Center (GKEC) on Waste Management property in Plainfield Township burns landfill gas captured from the landfill, and sells electricity to the electric company.  To do this, the non-profit Green Knight Economic Development Corporation (GKEDC) had to be created, and ostensibly its mission is to:
"provide economic relief for poor and distressed local citizens"
The GKEDC has strayed from its mission, as we have seen.  Today, the emphasis appears to be on developing projects that some GKEDC board members can benefit from financially, and benefiting the poor and distressed local citizens is playing a distant secondary priority.

Enter the deceptively and poorly titled Slate Belt Heat Recovery Center.  As Synagro and Waste Management's yarn goes, the waste heat from GKEC "which was always planned to be used" will be used to dry shit in the Synagro baked goods plant, and this is great for the environment.  The truth is it was never planned to erect a crap bakery employing 12 people right next to the energy center - the original concept of nearby businesses using the waste heat on three lots supplying good jobs along Route 512 was destined for rapid failure and has been replaced by Waste Management's goal to make its landfill profitable for several decades after it closes, and GKEDC is playing along with the ruse.  Waste energy is not what will be used to fuel the ovens churning out dried shit 24 hours a day, and both Synagro and Waste Management know it.  So does at least one Green Knight member.
Synagro public relations depiction makes processing shit look playful,
like making sand castles at the shore

Synagro paid some firm to make cute graphics with trucks chock full of shit trundling over the countryside, delivering poop to the bakery, and trucks chock full of shit departing for fields lined with fluffy trees.  The truth is, the trucks of shit aren't coming in from local suppliers - rather they are coming off concrete and asphalt highways of hell from Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, offloading crap here that those states don't want.  The same arteries delivering countless loads of toxic fill from the same states to fill quarries near your home and mine.  We'll take a look at DEP's role in the next installment.  Don't expect much from those useless assholes.  Deep pockets are the ticket to success with the DEP.

Trucks heading out will be delivering their precious cargo to local communities that don't want any part of biosolids application.  Yes, a shitstorm may be headed to your town in Schuylkill County, Carbon County, Monroe County, Lehigh County, Northampton, and points outward.  Ever seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

"I feel a powerful force in my ass, and it's the good stuff"

Following the July Plainfield Township Planning Commission review of Synagro's land development plan, Plainfield Township supervisor and GKEDC member Steven Hurni was chatting with another township supervisor and a resident, and this blogger has confirmed that he made the following observations:
  • Synagro doesn't need our waste heat at all
  • The waste heat is being used as an excuse
  • They are spending a heck of a lot of money sending lawyers and consultants to these meetings - they want this very badly
Mr. Hurni has seen the light - will it spread to the rest of the Green Knights?

Mr. Hurni is an intelligent man, and he has been seen regularly at the continuum of Synagro site plan and land development reviews.  He was in attendance at the previous meeting in May, when Synagro project manager Jim Hecht acknowledged that Synagro could operate its plant profitably on natural gas alone - which is available at the site.  This was the meeting at which Lisa Perin, a relative of the creator of the landfill, stated that once Synagro is "in" they will never leave.  That after the landfill closes, "they will find another source of energy."  What Ms. Perin did not realize is that source is there today - natural gas, and it is the only reason Synagro is obsessed with this site.  At this same meeting, Synagro saleswoman and airhead Pam Racey bragged about her 30 years of experience, and proceeded to make multiple misstatements of fact.  One of them was that this is a "green project that is good for the environment".  The only green stands to be in your company's coffers, Pam.  It's shit brown for the Slate Belt and beyond.  The "distressed" citizens Green Knight purports to assist will be even more distressed.  Perhaps Mr. Hurni was previously blinded by the state of euphoric crapulence that seems to have overcome the rest of the members of Green Knights - but his eyes have been opened.

Synagro has stated it will be capable of running on multiple sources of energy - waste energy, landfill gas, and natural gas.  Landfill gas is only about 50% methane - this is another ruse.  Why use crappy sources of energy when you can run more efficiently and profitably off of the good stuff - natural gas?  

Mr. Hurni is on the scent, and it appears he is realizing something smells odd and it isn't shit.  Synagro, Waste Management and Green Knights have all participated in trying to pull the wool over the Slate Belt's eyes.  Synagro has not acted in good faith - it is wasting tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on an application that it has known for a year requires zoning variances.  Any other company would apply for the variances.  Not Synagro - it is applying for PA DEP permits, paying a stenographer to record all planning commission meetings, running a full court press visiting towns singing the praises of shit to anyone who will listen.  Meanwhile, its engineer is acting like everything is in order, when he knows it isn't.  He admitted on May 31, 2018 that Synagro is developing inside the boundary of the pond on site, yet in August 2018 he filed a report stating that Synagro is maintaining at least a 50' setback from the existing pond in a "compliance"report.  You just could not make this shit up.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Gross misrepresentation of fact and and deceit in latest Synagro land development update for crap bakery in Plainfield Township

On August 15, 2018, EarthRes engineer David Allen, P.E. submitted an update to Synagro/Waste Management’s application to site a biosolids processing plant in Plainfield Township.  This was the deadline for new materials to be reviewed at the September 6, 2018 Planning Commission review - they slipped this baby in the door at the last moment the way all Applicants do who don’t want a municipality to find the deficiencies in their application. And that is the case here, as we shall see.  "P.E." stands for professional engineer, but as we will also see, it could also stand for "professional evader".

Holy shit Batman, that must be awesome because it's so big - Powww!!!

Just look at the girth - an inexperienced 19 year old lass might blush, and any man would be happy to have a package the length of the thickness of this one.  No expense is being spared in an attempt to shove this pile of shit through approval.

The cover sheet shows what the package contents are, but we will focus on materials related to the two zoning variances that Synagro’s plant requires - which Synagro has been trying for over a year to avoid discussing or admitting.  The first is an open space buffer adjacent to water bodies, and the second is separate entrances and exits at least 30’ wide are required specifically for crap bakeries.  As we shall see, they expelled some foul odorous flak out their ass in the latest attempt to distract from the reality these variances are indeed needed.  There is a reason for this - they can not prove the hardships needed for the variances to be granted.  They are playing a very expensive game of charades, waiting until their plan is shit-canned by the Planning Commission and then the end game of this C-grade movie plays out.

A one inch thick packet in the package is the “Project Performance Review and Compliance Report,” which is laughable.  Their performance sucks, and they don’t comply with the ordinance.  But let’s continue because they are paying their dime for this round of hilarity.

Variance #1 - Sec 27-505 50’ Open Space Buffer adjacent to Water Bodies
The EarthRes Project and Performance Review and Compliance report contains no narrative, only references to sections of the Ordinance, and claims that each requirement is met.  That’s bullshit, but without further ado, here is what is stated in regards to the open space buffer:

Gross misstatement of fact that appears intentional - the exact opposite of this statement is true - less than 0' of open space from the existing sediment basin is proposed and 50' is required

A buffer is needed near “Waterbeds”?  Exposure to sex acts, being pasted with potentially dangerous bodily fluids in the heat of passion?  Come on, David Allen, P. the fucking E. - pull Ye head out of Ye ass.  EarthRes represents the scum of the Earth -engineering the most environmentally destructive projects known to mankind.  David we can barely see you - if you can rise above the surface of the cesspool, maybe one day you can work for a company that isn’t EarthRes.

Let’s give David Allen P.E. the benefit of the doubt and assume he isn’t trying to hide one intentional error by introducing a second one.  Section 505 pertains to water bodies - and he states that the existing sediment basin complies with the 50’ requirement.  Did time and gravity somehow reverse themselves?  Let’s go to the videotape, a site plan updated August 14, 2018 contained in the package received on August 15, 2018:

What the revised plans actually show is a bunch of parking and a driveway in sediment pond #2, and a shit factory less than 25' away.  We see what you did there.
Note that the black dashed line "Proposed Pond Boundary" is obscured.  Now it is a pond?  David!

The parking places are forty-five feet into the existing sedimentation basin, and the proposed plant is a shade under 25’ from the existing basin.  Hello?  David?  We can see your leg and foot hanging out your ass, but where is the rest of you?  That looks REALLY uncomfortable!  How exactly does the existing sediment basin have a 50’ buffer around it, where there is no development?  Uh-oh.  David will have splain’n to do at the meeting on September 6, 2018.  Bring some Handi-Wipes, it will be ugly - in the seat of David’s pants.  It would be pleasantly surprising if just once a representative of EarthRes did something respectable.

The plan above is not stamped by David, so who knows if it is official or some draft he just tossed in.  No problem, because there is another sheet in the plans submitted on August 15 that does have his stamp, and it shows outright deceit on this subject:
Sheet C-03 of the Site Plan, which depicts the portion of Existing Sediment Basin #2 only where it isn't damaging to Synagro's plan.  The existing portion above the blue dashed "Proposed Sediment Basin" line is not shown.  What the hell is your definition of "existing," David Allen P.E.?

Variance #2 Sec 27-316 (2)(II).2  At least 30’ wide dedicated entrance and exits required, along an arterial or collector
At the Juy 16 lPlanning Commission, Synagro did a presentation that introduced the bold idea of adding an entrance and exit to Pen Argyl Road.  Aside from the fact it went over with the audience like the slip of a scalpel at a bris, David Allen P.E. seemed at a loss for words when asked how this new access would actually function.  All flash, no explosion.  More putrid flak - sure to impress the Express Times reporter Synagro invited to the meeting, but no one else.  “Synagro announces mesmerizing bull shit” was the headline the next day.  

In an examination of the August 15 super terrific Land Development Plan update, it is clear that the bold announcement and pretty slides at the July meeting portended a great big fat zero.  Bunkus.  Again, there is no narrative, but there is a Traffic Study and there are Truck Turn exhibits.  The Traffic Study indicates that the new access point to Pen Argyl Road that David Allen, P.E. unveiled in June should be gated and used only for emergencies.  You just could not make this shit up.  Where is the Express Times reporter now?  Writing a story about the next meeting about shit?  Come listen to more shit from David Allen P.E. on Thursday, September 6 - you won’t be disappointed!

I'll take Potpourri for $100, Alex

It's the Video Daily Double!

The truck turn exhibits show a bevy of activity at the western access point - in both directions.  Recall that separate entrances and exits are required, for safe and orderly flow.  This ain’t that.  The updated truck turn exhibits don’t represent any improvement in clarifying the intended operation, nor do they reflect separate entrances and exits to an arterial or collector.  FAIL.  The variance is still required.  Also, the Plainfield Township Recreational Trail would still be used by Synagro for decades - which is not the agreement that Waste Management made with Plainfield Township - the township is to get it back when the landfill closes.  Not 50 years from now.

Here is Synagro's real truck movement plan - whatever is necessary to get that truck full of crap on or off the property:

Why Synagro will not be able to obtain the variances needed

Briefly, in PA, there are 5 criteria to be proven to obtain a variance.  One is that your property can’t be used for a lawful use.  One is there are unique circumstances about your property - shape, slope, that make it so you can’t develop the lot.  But the uniqueness can’t be that you developed your lot without the future in mind, and now you’re screwed yourself.  The property is already being used profitably - to the tune of many millions of dollars a year.  There is nothing unique about the property except it is a garbage dump with little room left.  Tough shit - you built it.  This is fun - let's look at one more variance criteria - health, safety and welfare of the public can't be put at risk.  Yeah David, about that pond...

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Synagro refuses to do Environmental Study and has not studied water flow interchanges with aquifer below pond located 20 feet from proposed sludge plant

Synagro first proposed that it locate its crap processing plant near a large deep pond (Former Doney Quarry) in May of 2017.  As reviews progressed, it became apparent that Synagro would likely not be allowed to dump its 300 tons of wastewater per day into the nearby high quality Little Bushkill and Waltz Creeks.

Below: Plainfield Township Wetlands Consultant publishes review of proposed site, including the pond located near the plant and proposal to have a parking lot built in it.

In February 2018, suddenly Synagro announced now it would “backhaul” its wastewater to the source of the incoming sludge - to the amazement of listeners.  Purportedly this was in response to concerns by citizens - in fact they probably figured out they would never obtain DEP approval to discharge into the creek(s).  That line of shit about respecting concerns smells a mile away, and the trucks they propose be used to haul both crap and wastewater do not even exist.  And will these hypothetical trucks actually go back to where they came from in NY, NJ and CT to dump the wastewater?   It turns out that the answer may be “no”.  At the July planning commission review, Delaware Riverkeeper Deputy Director Tracy Carluccio informed the commission that she had informed Synagro VP of Project Development Pam Racey offline after the May 31 review meeting that the State of NY may not permit the backhauling of wastewater.

Ms. Racey was also corrected during the May 31 review by Ms. Carluccio - after Ms. Racey stated that if backhauled wastewater were refused by a facility, it would be taken to a facility in NJ.   “They take anything,” she said.  Ms. Carluccio pointed out that the facility Ms. Racey mentioned stopped accepting such materials over a year earlier.  Ms. Racey has 25 years experience and a BS degree in agriculture - she is a champion bull shitter.  Synagro’s “plan” appears to be “say whatever sounds good until someone challenges it.”  The operating hours are changing now that the public has questionedextended operating hours that were recently revealed that are beyond what was stated in a memo to the planning commission from Synagro project manager Jim Hecht in December of 2017.  Hecht’s comment on May 31, 2018 was “we’re trying to cut back the Saturday hours.”  Hecht appears to have gotten the same BS degree as Racey. The truth is, they have no idea how to make this operation work and are making everything up as they go.  For God's sake, they are building it in a pond.

The latest and more critical story that is changing has to do with the former Doney Quarry (aka Sediment Basin #2) - located only 20’ from the proposed plant, and proposed to have sludge-hauling trucks travelling through it.  A truck wash area, to rinse the shit off at the unloading station, is perhaps 50’ from the basin.

Sediment Basin #2 (a pond), proposed to be partially filled and to host 20 parking spaces

The "basin" to Synagro is a pond to everyone else
Over the past four months, more attention by the planning commission has been placed on the potential pollution of groundwater.  It took this long to get to the engineering and zoning reviews of Synagro’s plan.  Until the last review meeting, Synagro maintained steadfastly that the basin is a “stormwater facility, not a pond.”  It is important to note that the engineer for Synagro at a November 2017 review meeting agreed that the basin is connected to an aquifer.  The basin holds water permanently and has no outflow, and is connected to an aquifer, therefore by common definition it is a pond.

At the July 2018 Synagro review, Synagro finally agreed that in fact the basin is a “regulated water body” or waters of the Commonwealth according to DEP.  However, on questioning, Synagro’s engineer stated that Synagro has not studied groundwater flow in the pond   When asked if Synagro would do an Environmental Impact Study, Synagro representative Jim Hecht flatly and dully answered “No.”  This is the same Jim Hecht who has visited several municipal meetings in the past few months, spreading his PR line of bullshit to board and council members that this stuff is perfectly safe.  Prove to us it will be safe and not harm our environment, because we don’t believe you, Jim.

Plainfield Township Wetlands Consultant Publishes Review of Sediment Basin #2 (pond) and other water features on the site

Since Synagro has been poo-pooing, pun intended, the significance of the pond, Plainfield Township has contracted its engineer to issue a report on waters on the site.  It is below.  Key findings in the report are:

  • The pond is a state regulated water body, and contains Waters of the Commonwealth (this means that the Zoning Variance for 50’ of open space adjacent to a pond is in fact required)
  • The pond may qualify as Waters of the United States, and have to comply with federal regulations
  • Recommends that a hydrogeological study be performed to understand the flow of water into and out of the pond
  • The pond is regulated by the township’s ordinances since it is a pond
  • The pond is subject to the riparian buffer requirements of the ordinance
  • A delineation of all wetlands and water bodies on the site is required
  • The township may require a certification by the Army Corps of Engineers of the wetland and waters delineation
  • The plan is not in conformance with township riparian buffer requirements
  • Suggests that Plainfield Township request that the DEP require a full permit for partially filling the sediment pond, despite Synagro’s claims that it is exempt under PA Chapter 105.12(a)(6).
  • The proposed plans do not address required stormwater best management practices to protect the pond (not a detention basin) and downstream waterways.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Synagro finally admits it needs a variance to access its site - announces plan to use Pen Argyl Road

At the Monday continued review of Synagro's proposed crap bakery in Plainfield Township, Synagro did a mini presentation.  Express Times reporter John Best was there - probably because Synagro invited him for their "breaking news".

The presentation was designed to address the four zoning variances that Synagro has known for months its plan requires.  Two of the variances are trivial - a small alteration to a parking lot dimension, and paving the parking lot.  The other two variances are not trivial - one is road access, and the other is Synagro's proposed plant is within a few feet of a pond that is connected to an aquifer.  Plainfield's zoning ordinance requires a 50' setback from a water body.

Use variance #1 - road access
The big reveal of the night was that Synagro is now planning to access its site from Pen Argyl Road.  The Plainfield ordinance requires this specific use to access from an arterial or collector road - Pen Argyl Road is a collector.  A separate entrance and exit is also required.  Synagro has not submitted a new Site Plan that reflects this change, but the picture below is a sketch of what is purported to be proposed.  The area in red on the right is where the access drive would be.  Synagro believes that this proposal will satisfy the ordinance requirement that currently is not met.  A highway occupancy permit will be required, and a modification of the landfill's permit.  Synagro did  not provide many details of exactly how trucks will move around the site using this proposed access point, but stated they would when new plans are submitted at the end of the month. ("Final" plans - lol - they've made up this entire project as they went along and confronted with questions they could not answer).  Will Synagro's trucks require use of township property as in previous plans?

Synagro's proposed access from Pen Argyl Road, announced on July 16, 2018

Several residents in the audience were unimpressed and displeased to learn that Synagro is exploring Pen Argyl Road, as landfill access via this road was problematic in the past.  Where would shit haulers park, while waiting for the site to open?  Currently they can stack up on Waste Management's driveway from Route 512.  Synagro appeared to claim at this meeting that trucks will not arrive early, but at the previous meeting they said some may and would wait on the Grand Central access drive off of Route 512.  Different night, different story.  What will PennDOT think of shit haulers waiting to turn off of Pen Argyl Road, while garbage trucks using the haul road block entry?  Approval of a highway occupancy permit is far from certain.  On paper it looks... problematic?

Use variance #2 - the pond that is a pond is a pond
A consultant for EarthRes - engineers for the worst nuisance uses known to mankind - argued that Sedimentation Basin #2 is not regulated by PA Chapter 105, but he stated multiple times that it is a regulated water body according to Pennsylvania law.  These two concepts are mutually exclusive - since it is a regulated water body, by definition it is subject to Chapter 105.  The EarthRes engnieer was gilding the lily.  Putting lipstick on a pig.  The basin has approval be DEP to be exempt from one requirement of Chapter 105 - a permit to fill it or alter its course of flow.  This is known as an "Obstruction and Encroachment Permit", and Synago/Waste Management doesn't require one to partially fill the quarry.  Encroachment is defined in Chapter 105 as alternation of a water course - not encroachment within a required setback - which is what the township ordinance covers.

Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Executive Director of the Delaware River Keeper, spoke at the podium on behalf of members that her organization represents, and presented an engineer's review that found that the pond is a regulated water body.  Synagro and Waste Management attorney Matthew Goodrich attempted to poo-poo Ms. Carluccio's expert, but the facts are clear - it is a water body.

Township manager Tom Petrucci questioned the EarthRes engineer - how will your new submission address Section 27-505 of Plainfield Township's ordinance?  This is the section that requires a 50 foot setback from water bodies.  The best the engineer could come up with was "our plan is exempt from dams and waterways."  Dam safety and waterway management is the title of Chapter 105 - Google it.  He is incorrect - Chapter 105 is where it is found that the sediment basin is a regulated water body.  Has nothing to do with and does not supersede the township ordinance.

The significance of this is that  Synagro has been arguing that the sediment basin is not a pond - and not a water body.  Until Monday evening when they finally admitted it is a regulated water body.  Uh oh Lucy.  Lucy got splain'n to do Lucy!  It is a water body, so Plainfield's requirement for a 50' setback from what is known as the "blue line" on the zoning map applies.  Synagro has a roughly 0' setback - as the sketch above shows the parking lot is proposed to be in the pond according to the blue line.  Yeah, that sucks.

But Ricky, it isn't a pond!  Waaaaaah  Ricky!