UPDATE: Pennsylvania landfill reopens, seeks improvements following fatality

UPDATE (Feb. 24): The Greentree Landfill in Kersey, PA has partially reopened following the death of a 49-year-old employee earlier this month, as reported by U.S. News & World Report. 

The state's Department of Environmental Protection and OSHA are investigating the incident and have suggested materials for improvements at the landfill. Advanced Disposal, which operates the landfill, is working to bring in those materials and has also hired an engineer to assess the incident. 


UPDATE (Feb. 13): The body of a missing worker who was buried under 40 feet of garbage at the Greentree Landfill in Kersey, PA was found late last week. The employee was identified as William Pierce, 49, according to Pennsylvania State Trooper Bruce Morris.

The Morning Call reports that Pierce was driving a garbage compactor when a landslide occurred on-site, causing the fatal incident. The official cause of death has not yet been released. 

"Our employees worked tirelessly since Wednesday and used every available resource in an effort to locate our missing team member," Advanced Disposal said in a release, as reported by Centre Daily Times. "We want to thank the local police, fire and emergency management services personnel for their support and efforts."

It is still unclear what caused the landslide or if there is a follow-up investigation being conducted. Advanced Disposal did not respond to Waste Dive's request for comment by the time of publication.

Dive Brief:

  • An employee at the Greentree Landfill in Kersey, PA is missing following an on-site landslide that occurred when the wall of a garbage cell collapsed, as reported by Courier Express. The landfill is operated by Advanced Disposal.
  • Rescue crews, police and other officials are searching the site for the missing male worker, whose identity has not been released.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) fined the landfill $8,500 in late 2015 for "not being designed in a way to prevent hazards after an unspecified 'incident response,'" as reported by WBAL. It is not clear what those specific hazards were.

Dive Insight:

According to SWANA CEO David Biderman, landslides at most modern landfills are very rare. Today's landfills are "designed, operated and regulated to ensure slope stability," therefore this type of occurrence is not one that workers generally fear. However, this incident highlights the importance of safety training and compliance, especially in regards to such unique situations.

State officials often question landfill safety and stability, especially when sites propose vertical expansions that can possibly lead to slope failures. While these types of state technical reviews may result in pushback and re-evaluation of proposals, this vigilance from the state level is crucial to prevent potentially disastrous incidents from occurring.

Safety training and disaster prevention is also crucial at industry conventions, and associations like SWANA and NWRA have worked hard to ensure that leaders can share insights on such matters. This type of training was exemplified at SWANA's Senior Executive Seminar last year and will likely be a focus at many events this year including WasteExpo and WASTECON.

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Filed Under: Landfill