Touring Keystone Landfill

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DUNMORE -- A landfill in Lackawanna County has been at the center of a public controversy. Keystone Landfill in Dunmore is asking the Department of Environmental Protection to expand.

Since Keystone Sanitary Landfill first applied to expand last year, many people in Lackawanna County have come out in opposition of the proposal to allow 50 more years of trash at the site in Dunmore. The borough of Dunmore has even flip-flopped on the issue.

The Keystone Landfill employees we talked to say they understand all the controversy. They're trying to make people more comfortable with the idea of a growing landfill in their backyard.

In the seats of an SUV, we took the road that more than 450 garbage trucks take when they drive into Keystone Sanitary Landfill every day. The trucks then drive for several miles through the 1,000 acre facility in Dunmore, a size you really can't grasp unless you're in it.

The trucks make it to the landfill face -- that's the term for the part of the landfill that's currently taking trash. This part is just a speck really compared to everything else that goes on there.

Keystone employees Dan O'Brien and Al Magnotta showed us Keystone Quarry, another part of the business, also, acres and acres of landfill that have already been capped off and now tapped with methane gas wells.

"The purpose of them is to collect the gas that's produced from the decomposing garbage, and manage it and control it."

Keystone Landfill is in the process of asking the Department of Environmental Protection to add more peaks on the site. This peak is one of the highest that exists on the landfill site. What Keystone is asking the DEP for is to basically fill in the valley that it creates. An existing quarry would be moved and would be replaced with garbage.

"Essentially, we have four different sites on this 1,000-acre property. The general perception of the phase three is to fill in the valleys between all the existing sites," said landfill worker Al Magnotta.

Keystone's reasons for the expansion are obvious. Without it, the landfill would run out of room and be forced to shut down in about five years.

The expansion would allow them another 50 years, but officials recognize they share that half-century with the citizens of Lackawanna County.

"We realize that this is a very important public policy question and an environmental issue. We welcome an informed debate on the merits of our application. We're willing to work with all parties to see if we can't develop reasonable solutions," Magnotta said.

Earlier this year, Keystone Landfill started advertising its tours. So far, about 100 people have taken a tour and about 100 more are scheduled for next month.

The Department of Environmental Protection has yet to rule on Keystone's application for expansion. Officials from the DEP are holding a public meeting Wednesday at Dunmore High School from 6 to 10 p.m.

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