The Berks-Mont News (

Future plans discussed at Conestoga Landfill Citizens Advisory Council meeting

By Tory Lingg, For Journal Register News Svc

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Conestoga Landfill, under the direction of Republic Services, is working to get all state and local permits for all remaining cells and land development, said Engineer Gene Bonner at the final 2012 Citizens Advisory Council meeting, held at the landfill’s adminstration building. Plans are being made to move the leachate storage tanks to the eastern area of the landfill near Quarry Road. Each tank holds about 1.2 million gallons. The treatment process will change and it will be managed by Conestoga Landfill employees rather than being outsourced as it is currently. The new procedure will blend old and new technologies. Certain types of microbes are cultivated which feed on chemicals in the leachate. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources prefers that the tanks should only be 25% full. When the leachate treatment system breaks down, the leachate is trucked to the Exeter Treatment plant.
Presently the system is shut down until a very expensive electric switch, costing $15,000, is replaced. Bonner said the landfill wants to get the bid packages out by the end of February.
“By the end of April the bids should be in. We do not have to always take the lowest bids because these are not municipal or public contracts. No one works in secrecy. We will tell you anything you want to know. You have a right to know what is going on.
Currently there are three flares burning off methane that is not used. Cell 20 is being filled now. Excavation for cell 22 is underway. In 2015, cells 21 to 23 are expected to be done. Then cells 18 and 24 will be constructed.
A new tire wash has been constructed near the new scale house along Conestoga Way. The new office building and truck repair shop will be built near the new entrance, with the estimated completion time being 2015 or 2016.
Lee Zimmerman, general manager of the landfill, said they are getting some demolition material from New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Before Sandy they were getting 2000 tons of trash daily but now it is up to 2700 tons daily.
Efforts are being done to control the amount of leachate, because once rain hits trash the runoff becomes leachate and has to be treated. They have developed a rain flap that prevents storm water from entering open areas not yet filled with trash.
They are considering getting generators for essential locations like the scale house, said Bonner.
“PP&L has never let them down,” said Zimmerman. “They are always responsible to our needs.”
Bonner said Granger Energy is using more methane than they ever have before. Processed methane is being used to power electrical generating turbines at Dart Container and L & S Sweeteners. There are times when all of the methane gas is used, but flares are needed to burn off the excess gas on weekends when use is lower.
New members are welcome to join the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, said Zimmerman. Recently he met a coach with a women’s softball team. The coach who lives in nearby Mountaineer Village had expressed some interest in activities of the Committee.
“It would be a great opportunity for high school and college students to come here and learn what we do. It would dispel some myths they may have. They could learn how there is a checks and balances system (in place) guaranteeing the safety of the entire trash process. From the liners, the insulating gravel, the gas extraction wells , methane processing and flares, students can see how preplanned safety done with precision can influence what they do in life,” said Zimmerman.
“We attend job fairs” said Zimmerman. ”We are interested in career development. There are virtually no job turnovers here.”
Republic Services hires trainees to work on heavy equipment from a trade education college in central Pennsylvania.
From a total of 676 acres, 426 acres are used in the waste manage process, said Bonner. About 154 acres are located in the original landfill and 133 acres are located in the newer area.
During this time of the year projects are winding down, said Zimmerman. There will not be much activity until April. There is a drop off area for recyclable materials.
Residents of Caernarvon Township and New Morgan Borough who live within a certain distance of the landfill are provided free trash removal. It includes Mountaineer Village and Swamp Road areas. We are getting more methane gas to Granger.
“We want to encourage more use of methane gas rather than nonrenewable fuels,” said Zimmerman.
The next meeting of the Citizens Advisory Council will take place on March 21, 2013. The public is welcome to attend and interested parties should call 610-286-6844 for information.