CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the loction of the landfill. The landfill is located in Pennyslvania.
- The cause of a foul-smelling fluid that forced evacuation of St. Joseph’s Center and Sleep Inn & Suites in Dunmore, PA last September remains unknown, as reported in The Times Tribune.
- This conclusion follows a mistaken assessment that the fluid was leachate discharged from Keystone Sanitary Landfill through an alternate sewer line when workers were repairing a pump.
- The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has since confirmed the landfill had not released leachate the night of the evacuation. Keystone consultant Al Magnotta said he did not contact the press to clarify because a DEP investigation was underway to test another possibility— an open valve, which was later also ruled out as the source of the dirty fluid.
The possibility of landfill leachate is obviously to be taken seriously, even after it is treated it can contain multiple toxic chemicals. The miscommunication started when DEP informed Keystone Business Manager Dan O’Brien that there was a significant flow.
"… My response to that was we must be discharging to Reeves Street," O’Brien said. "In retrospect, I should have asked some additional questions, which would have probably eliminated the ensuing confusion."
DEP staff went to the landfill Oct. 27 looking for the root of the problem, leaving the suspect valve partially open, and saw no increased flow in the line, the investigation report said.
Friends of Lackawanna, a grass-roots group, was not happy with the outcome of the investigation.
"It is unnerving and unacceptable that the DEP’s final answer to so many important questions is a shoulder shrug that only serves to raise even more questions," Michele Dempsey, a group leader, stated in an e-mail.