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Westmoreland

Yukon landfill owner plans expansion

Joe Napsha
| Saturday, July 21, 2018, 5:19 p.m.
A large bucket mixes the industrial waste in a solidification unit at MAX Environmental Technologies’ Yukon hazardous waste treatment facility. The site was the topic of a public hearing last week.
Submitted
A large bucket mixes the industrial waste in a solidification unit at MAX Environmental Technologies’ Yukon hazardous waste treatment facility. The site was the topic of a public hearing last week.

The owner of a Yukon industrial waste management facility wants to build a 14-acre landfill on its site to extend the life of its operations by 20 to 30 years — a project that could cost between $15 million and $17 million — while replacing a dump expected to be filled in the next few years.

“This will allow for continuous operations,” said Robert Shawver, chief executive of MAX Environmental Technologies Inc., which treats waste from steel mills and brownfield sites, as well as oil and gas operations.

MAX Environmental is in the midst of preliminary site assessment, which includes taking soil samples, testing groundwater and the bedrock, Shawver said. The company is starting work on the project well in advance of its No. 6 landfill being filled. The process to obtain environmental permits from the state can take years, he said.

The company expects to apply to the state Department of Environmental Protection for a landfill permit by the end of the year or early 2019, Shawver said. The landfill would be built in three or four phases spread over a period of 12 to 14 years, Shawver said.

MAX Environmental has not approached DEP for a preapplication meeting or submitted a permit application for expansion, said Lauren Fraley, an agency spokeswoman in Pittsburgh.

As part of any permit application for waste disposal operations, MAX would have to meet public notice requirements, engage in a meaningful public participation process and schedule a preapplication meeting with DEP, Fraley said.

Residents near the site will be notified of a public session where MAX will provide information on the recent environmental studies and the proposed extent of operations. That meeting may occur before the end of August, Shawver said, with a formal public hearing by the end of December.

“This will be an open and transparent process, and we want to hear from our neighbors,” Shawver said.

Those residents and township officials who have complained over the years about dust and odor will be relieved to hear the new landfill is proposed for a site in the northern end of the property, farther away from residences in Yukon than the No. 6 landfill.

“It will be a more remote location. There’s not many residences abutting the (proposed) site,” Shawver said.

Residents living along Spring Street in the shadow of the No. 6 landfill filed complaints over the past several years about noxious odors and dust wafting from the facility. MAX has been fined $80,600 by South Huntingdon since 2015 and paid the state $377,000 in fines for permit violations over the past three years.

South Huntingdon supervisors Richard Gates, Eddie Troup and Matthew Jennewine were not available for comment.

MAX has not experienced the kinds of complaints about its operations that it experienced in the past because it is accepting less waste from oil and gas operations, particularly drilling mud that carries a strong odor, Shawver said. Shawver said the company has rejected some truckloads of materials because of those problems.

The company is looking to move away from focusing on treating waste from natural gas and oil drilling, which accounted for only 6 percent of its business last year, to handling industrial waste from steel mills, brownfield sites and factory cleanups, Shawver said.

MAX, which also has a landfill in Bulger, Washington County, is owned by Altus Capital Partners II, a private equity firm in Wilton, Conn. That firm bought MAX Environmental in February 2017 and has invested capital to make upgrades to the facility, Shawver said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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