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Complaint filed by South Huntingdon officials against landfill

Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review - An overview of the Max Environmental Technologies Yukon facility on July 23, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review</em></div>An overview of the Max Environmental Technologies Yukon facility on July 23, 2013.
- Large machines move hazardous waste in the number 6 impoundment at Max Environmental Technologies, Inc. in South Huntingdon Twp. on February 17, 2012.
Large machines move hazardous waste in the number 6 impoundment at Max Environmental Technologies, Inc. in South Huntingdon Twp. on February 17, 2012.

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For Cindy Kelley, living next to a hazardous waste facility in Yukon for six years has meant inhaling what she describes as “terrible smells” when the wind blows across the the dump, which operates “day and night.”

“On some days, it smells to high heaven,” Kelley said.

On other days, thick dust makes it tough to see beyond her neighbor's house.

In response to residents' complaints, South Huntingdon officials have filed a criminal complaint against landfill operator MAX Environmental Technologies Inc. of Upper St. Clair, alleging it violated a 1966 township ordinance by storing industrial waste within 600 yards of the nearest public road — Spring Street — and by allowing noxious odors and dust to escape.

A preliminary hearing on the matter will be scheduled before Scottdale District Judge Charles Moore.

MAX environmental engineer Carl Spadaro said MAX didn't know how the ordinance applied to its operations in Yukon and questioned how the township determined it was violating the ordinance.

The complaint seeks a maximum of $87,400 in fines, records indicate.

The company chemically treats waste at its 159-acre facility to make it nonhazardous and suitable for disposal, according to documents. It solidifies residual waste such as drill cuttings that contain water for eventual disposal.

South Huntingdon code enforcement officer John Shannon said he prepared the criminal complaint after hearing from neighbors on Spring Street who were upset about the odor and dust from the site.

“It's bad up there sometimes. How much is misery worth? Life should not be that way,” Shannon said.

Toni Bazala, whose Spring Street property abuts MAX Environmental, said there are days when it seems “like a dust storm that comes across the property,” dropping sand on her cars and house. Bazala said MAX has paid to wash the exterior of her house.

In addition to South Huntingdon's complaint, the state DEP stated on April 25 that MAX was “in violation of (state) odor” regulations.

Spadaro said the company is reviewing the state's correspondence and will meet regulators to discuss their allegations. MAX officials advised the state they don't believe “that we are in violation of the regulations they are citing,” Spadaro said in an email.

MAX has tried to identify potential sources of odors, but it has been difficult because the state, township and neighbors only recently said it was a “cement-like odor,” Spadaro said. MAX has changed the method by which it grades and compacts waste in the landfill and has applied “odor suppressants” and other materials to neutralize the waste.

Air monitoring around the landfill has found no contaminants, Spadaro said.

South Huntingdon Supervisor Mel Cornell said the smell intensified when MAX began taking cuttings from natural gas drilling operations.

“It creates a really bad odor,” Cornell said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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