Flare Incident at Landfill Rattles Nearby Residents

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A view of IESI Bethlehem Landfill in Lower Saucon Township (FILE PHOTO)

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An incident at a local landfill that was caused by high winds Tuesday reportedly rattled windows and doors on nearby Ringhoffer Road and as far away as Sherry Hill Road, Lower Saucon Township Police reported in a news release.

A view of IESI Bethlehem Landfill in Lower Saucon Township (FILE PHOTO)

A view of IESI Bethlehem Landfill in Lower Saucon Township (FILE PHOTO)

Police said officers were called to the 2500 block of Ringhoffer Road for a disturbance report shortly after 10 a.m.

“Residents reported their homes were shaking for several minutes, causing their windows, doors, etc. to rattle,” the news release stated.

Police said their investigation revealed “there was an issue with the flare, which is a primary gas destruction system at the IESI landfill” at 2335 Applebutter Road.

“Apparently, an air intake which mixes the gases to burn it off was taking in too much air,” they said. “The result was a steep rise in pressure, which caused the flare itself to emit a pulse which was transmitted through the ground.”

Once a pressure valve was released by landfill staff, the shock waves stopped, police added.

Councilwoman Priscilla deLeon, who is a member of the township’s landfill committee and was at the township building Tuesday to attend a regular quarterly meeting, confirmed that “there was a problem.”

“High winds lifted the temporary cap and a gas well cap was pushed off, causing a problem at the flare,” she explained, citing information provided by host inspector Chris Taylor.

When the gas well cap was ripped off, air was able to enter the flare system instead of gas “and it freaked out,” she added.

Matthew Brannon, who is a senior manager at the public relations firm that represents IESI Bethlehem Landfill, swb&r, released the following statement about the incident from landfill district manager Al Schleyer:

“At Bethlehem Landfill, we want to know and address the issues and concerns of our neighbors. Today, high winds created an influx of air into the gas collection system. Our equipment continued to operate properly, however this influx of air created a noise that resulted from the mechanical louver controls system. There was no threat to public health or impact to the environment. The Lower Saucon Township Police and PA DEP were informed of the situation. We appreciate the input, as this dialogue creates a foundation for positive relationships and future partnerships. Whatever the issue, we will work to resolve it with integrity and professionalism.”

Lower Saucon Police said in their news release that if any residents feel their properties were damaged because of the incident they should call the department at 610-317-6110 to report that to police.

IESI Bethlehem Landfill is currently seeking permission to expand southeast-ward within its zoned footprint and has submitted a permit application for the expansion to the PA DEP.

A public hearing about that application is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Saucon Valley High School in Hellertown.

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