Community expresses worry over potential health risks if Mercer Co. landfill reopens

Local News

A pilot talked about dangerous flight conditions and others voiced concern about cancer-causing dust at the community meeting

GROVE CITY, Pa. (WKBN) – Dangerous, cancer-causing, potentially deadly and stinky. Those were among the reasons around 300 people showed up Wednesday night to argue against a landfill reopening in Mercer County.

No one from the company hoping to reopen Tri-County Landfill spoke at the meeting while we were there. But we did hear from pilots, people who lead recreation runs and even doctors about why it would be a health risk.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection spent the night listening to the public on the idea of reopening the landfill. Twenty-eight people signed up to speak before the meeting.

One of the first was Grove City Airport Pilot Stephen Shields.

“It’s unprecedented to have a landfill so close to the runway,” he said. “It’s less than 1.4 miles off the end of the runway, directly under the approach path of the airplane.”

This has nothing to do with smell, but with landing a plane safely. Birds flock to landfills.

“Birds are attracted to trash. That’s why they don’t allow landfills in close proximity to the airport,” Shields said.

Planes at the Grove City Airport aren’t massive jets. Shields said one bird could be deadly.

“It could bring us down. It could take the airplane and shut down one of the engines.”

The stench of Trash Mountain, as the community nicknamed it, wasn’t at the top of anyone’s list of concerns.

“For the last nine years, I’ve held a race for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and it’s only a mile-and-a-half from where this landfill wants to bring in spent foundry sands, fly ash and a whole bunch of other stuff that’s been linked to cancer,” Nathan Depew said.

He said the community has invested a lot in creating safe recreation spaces. The problem, according to most speakers, is not with the trash filling the landfill, it’s with what’s called the cover — what workers will put over each layer of garbage.

“This application also states it will use, as daily cover, the following: fly ash and foundry sands — both of which are carcinogenic — lead-contaminated soils, petroleum-contaminated soils, sewer sludge, acid mine drainage sludge.”

Machines crushing garbage will generate a lot of dust.

“One of their first estimates was 830.4 tons of dust per year,” said.

The landfill has been closed since 1990. This is the fourth time the company which owns the property has tried to reopen it.

We do not know when the DEP will announce it has approved or denied the permit application to get it running again. If approved, it would run six days a week, 24 hours a day.

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