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Schuylkill County News

Schuylkill Commissioners to Residents Affected by Biosolids Smells: “Keep Complaining”

Results of Monday’s meeting shared at Work Session meeting.

Schuylkill County Commissioners met on Monday with representatives of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection and Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office to address concerns many residents have with a few companies operating in western Schuylkill County.

These companies – namely Natural Soil Products, a biosolids producer – have created nearly unlivable conditions, these residents say, because of their apparent inability to control foul odors that are polluting the air in the area.

Residents have been lodging complaints about NSP and others for several years. And in that time, the County’s line has been that it’s apparently powerless to do anything about it. It says the state either needs to step in or give the County power to enforce action against companies that continue to pollute.

However, in the last few months, that less-than-aggressive stance from the past has changed somewhat.

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The Commissioners say they want these companies to be “good neighbors”.

Recently, they met with each of three companies – NSP, Liberty Processing & Soils, and Stavola-Summit Materials – many believe are responsible for causing the odors.

Wednesday’s meeting was an attempt to see what, if any, power the County has in mitigating these issues.

“I think it was a productive meeting,” Chairman Larry Padora said. “Basically, what they said is that they’re (DEP) going to start looking into everything.

“I know you want to hear that it’s stopped. We’re trying to do all we can. We’re trying to put as much pressure as we can on them,” he added.

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Commissioner Gary Hess added, “The way things are right now is not acceptable. People can’t continue living the way they are. We not only said it once. We said it a number of times.”

One company that seems to have drawn the most criticism is Natural Soil Products (NSP). It processes sewage sludge into biosolids products.

To deal with the odor problem, the company was forced to install a filtration system (GORE) to reduce the odors coming from its facility. That system is now online but the Commissioners believe it’s definitely not working as advertised.

“The GORE System isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing in any way, shape, or form,” Padora said.

The one thing the County would like to do is certify someone within its ranks to be able to perform inspections of any facility they believe is responsible for a noxious odor at any given time.

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Commissioner Boots Hetherington said Wednesday that could possibly be someone from the County’s Conservation District or Solid Waste department.

“They said they’d take that back to their legal team,” Padora said. “Our report could be used to help build a case.”

Hetherington said a County agent would be able to investigate a potential source of the problem sooner than someone from DEP, who likely would have to travel from Wilkes-Barre to investigate. And by the time they got down to any of these problem sites, the stench could have dissipated. 

“That’s a big step in the right direction,” he said. 

Another solution the County believes could reduce the smells likely coming from these facilities, in particular, NSP, is reducing the tonnage they’re allowed to import for processing.

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Right now, NSP can import 300 tons per day. However, he said there were far fewer complaints when it could only import 250.

In the meantime, the Commissioners told affected residents there’s one thing they can definitely do any time their lives are affected by the stench.

“Keep complaining and calling every single day. Call every time there’s a smell,” Padora said. “Get everyone you can to call.”

Watch the full exchange from Wednesday’s Work Session meeting:

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Val

    April 19, 2024 at 9:06 am

    The GORE System isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing”. Really? Any fines? Any local DEP’s actions? Any sanctions? I guess not..
    So to whom are we to “keep calling and complaining every single day”? Never ending circus.

  2. Pat

    April 19, 2024 at 8:48 pm

    Isn’t there an option to lodge a complaint with DEP other than having to make a phone call? Being able to send an email or text message would be less cumbersome and quicker. Oh, yeah, that’s right- DEP certainly wouldn’t want to make it easier to register a complaint! We don’t have unlimited time and energy to sit on the phone day after day and they are counting on people becoming frustrated and giving up.

  3. PTFloridian

    April 20, 2024 at 8:25 am

    We should be calling to complain about the stench coming from the courthouse

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