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Schuylkill County News

Public Demands DEP Deny BRADS Landfill Permit Renewal

The Burma Rd. landfill site seeks a 10-year renewal to continue its operation.

St. Clair Borough Councilman Norm Diehl

Residents who live near the Blythe Recycle and Demolition Site (BRADS) Landfill just outside St. Clair vehemently demanded Wednesday that the state’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) deny the landfill’s application for a permit renewal.

DEP hosted a Public Hearing at the St. Clair Elementary and Middle School to get public feedback on BRADS’ request for a 10-year extension on its current permit at its facility in Blythe Twp. along Burma Rd.

BRADS Landfill in Blythe Township, Schuylkill County
The BRADS Landfill site along Burma Rd. in Blythe Township. (Coal Region Canary photos)

Members of DEP’s Waste Management program and representatives from BRADS landfill sat before the public and listened to an hour of testimony from about a dozen St. Clair and nearby residents.

More than 75 people attended the hearing on Wednesday evening.

St. Clair Residents Tired of the Rotten Eggs Smell They Say is Caused by BRADS Landfill on Burma Rd.

Numerous people who spoke Wednesday said they’ve had enough of the smell of rotten eggs in the air in St. Clair, which they say is caused by the BRADS Landfill.

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St. Clair resident Robert Kuzio testifies at Wednesday’s hearing as officials from BRADS Landfill look on. Kuzio said he’s filed numerous complaints about the landfill but feels nothing’s been done to address his concerns.

They spoke about not being able to open the windows of their homes, youth sports activities being affected by troubled breathing, and other health problems.

Truck traffic to and from the landfill is also a concern of those who spoke out against the permit renewal application.

Others spoke about how they believe the landfill is destroying their own property and keeping its value down.

“Enjoying our land is no longer an option to myself or any of my family.”

Taryn Fatula, who has been outspoken against the landfill since before it opened about 20 years ago, testified Wednesday, “The stench from this landfill is often so strong it makes your eyes water and enjoying our land is no longer an option to myself or any of my family.”

Fatula says her family owns about 100 acres of land east of the BRADS Landfill.

She says the smell of rotten eggs – likely caused by hydrogen sulfide – is noticeable weekly, and sometimes daily, and makes their land “completely unusable.”

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Fatula added, “There’s often noise from the landfill as well as debris blowing onto our property and that, we feel, is also unacceptable.”

She recalled being at a public hearing nearly 20 years ago before the BRADS site opened.

“This is a very eerie feeling of deja vu. So many of the concerns and predicted outcomes at that time have now come to fruition, including the putrid odor issues, the truck traffic going directly through St. Clair, the littering of the Burma Rd. and surrounding properties from debris from this landfill, leachate disposal concerns, and the fear of potential sale of this landfill from the local township to a larger corporation,” Fatula added.

Waste Connections, of The Woodlands, Texas, purchased the BRADS Landfill site a few years ago.

Fatula questioned why DEP would allow BRADS to get a permit and expand on its operation. She also believes the dump is taking municipal waste, which is not permitted by the permit the company is seeking to renew.

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You can see all of Fatula’s testimony here:

Many of the residents who spoke on Wednesday testified to the health problems and loss of quality of life they say is caused by the BRADS Landfill.

“Headaches, burning eyes, stomach illness, and a feeling of throat closure.”

Erin Portland testified, “My right to clean air and my family’s right to clear air is continually violated by the BRADS Landfill.”

Portland told DEP officials that there are several errors on the BRADS Landfill renewal application.

She vehemently expressed her displeasure with the landfill and told DEP to deny the renewal application.

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Erin Portland tells DEP officials to deny the BRADS Landfill permit renewal application at Wednesday’s hearing. She testified how the smell of hydrogen sulfide affects her and her family’s health continually.

“I frequently experience hydrogen sulfide gas outside of my home, inside of my home and throughout my community. These emissions have become more frequent. The odor is so pungent, I’m unable to remain outdoors,” Portland said.

She, like others, said the odor of rotten eggs in the air “have caused myself and my family headaches, burning 0eyes, stomach illness, and a feeling of throat closure. Our dog exhibits severely irritated red eyes.

“I’m tired of feeling sick from hydrogen sulfide emissions and I refuse to let myself, my family, and my community be exposed to increased risk of cancer and other disease. BRADS Landfill must be closed down,” Portland said.

She said Waste Connections has profited at the expense of St. Clair residents.

“We have to stop practice and get out of there.”

Among those speaking Wednesday were St. Clair Borough Councilman Norm Diehl (pictured above) and Mayor Richard Tomko.

Diehl told DEP officials that he’s been involved in youth sports in St. Clair for the last 10 years. In the last few years, however, Diehl said sports practices have to be curtailed because of the conditions caused by the landfill.

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“We have to watch how long into the night we go. If we work until 7, it starts getting really, really bad,” Diehl said.

He said his players eyes get scratchy and they start wheezing.

“We have to stop practice and get out of there,” Diehl added.

He urged DEP to deny the permit renewal.

“You have to stop this. You can not renew this,” he said. “I don’t care about me. Do it for the kids. Do not renew this.”

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St. Clair Mayor Richard Tomko
St. Clair Mayor Richard Tomko urged DEP to deny BRADS Landfill its permit renewal at Wednesday’s hearing. “I ask you to reject this permit because I feel it the extension of this permit would be deleterious to the environment in St. Clair and to the health of our residents.”

“I’ve become accustomed to the smell of rotten eggs.”

Brian Pearson, of St. Clair, says he wakes up every morning for work at 6 a.m. and is greeted by the smell of rotten eggs. He says he’s become accustomed to the smell.

But despite the familiarity of it and his expectation of it, Pearson clearly doesn’t want to breathe in this smell every day of his life.

“I fail to see how a permit renewal should be approved here,” Pearson testified.

In addition to those who blamed the BRADS Landfill for causing health issues, others spoke about the facility’s impact on the future of St. Clair.

“We’re going to end up like another Flint, Michigan.”

Ted Hughes told DEP they’re the only ones who can help St. Clair right now by denying the BRADS permit renewal application.

He, too, complained of odors when he takes his morning run.

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He worried that if nothing’s done to stop the landfill, St. Clair will be a community like many others notoriously destroyed by environmental conditions.

“We’re going to end up like another Flint, Michigan,” Hughes said. “Nobody’s going to want to be here. Why would you want to be here?”

“Please help us.”

Joshua Hart begged local legislators to intervene and “please help us.”

In attendance at Wednesday’s hearing were State Rep. Tim Twardzik (R-123), who represents St. Clair and Blythe Twp., and Mary Beth Dougherty, a top assistant of State Sen. Dave Argall (R-29).

“Help our constituents here or you won’t be met with pleading next time. You’ll be met with anger,” Hart said.

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DEP will await a transcript from Wednesday’s hearing and is accepting more written public comments on the permit renewal application until June 14. The agency will then issue a common response document to address the questions and concerns raised during public comment periods leading up to that point, including the testimony given on Wednesday.

BRADS Landfill representatives listen to an hour of testimony from St. Clair residents who demanded DEP deny their permit renewal application.

No one from BRADS offered any comments during or following the hearing.

This hearing was hosted by DEP because the BRADS landfill is in an Environmental Justice area. The hearing is part of the regulator’s “enhanced public participation” protocol when companies apply for such permits in these Environmental Justice areas.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Chris

    May 31, 2024 at 7:03 pm

    Give us a listing of names of the Brads Landfill Representatives in the photo you have. Some of these people seem very uninterested in what is going on.

  2. Pat

    June 2, 2024 at 7:23 am

    Agree with Chris- please identify the BRADS representatives in the photo. Did State Rep Tim Twardzick offer any comments or even a stance on this issue? Hoping he will grow a backbone and represent his constituents being affected.

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