DEP issues new fines for Westmoreland County landfill that accepts drilling waste

$59,000 fine issued for multiple violations, including leaks and spills

  • Reid Frazier

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fined a Western Pennsylvania landfill that accepts solid fracking waste $59,000 for multiple violations over the past year. 

It’s the latest in a series of legal actions against the landfill.  

According to a consent order signed Oct. 7, the Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill in Rostraver failed to maintain up-to-date records, operated beyond permitted hours, and failed to maintain roads on multiple occasions between July 31, 2019, and Sept. 24, 2020. 

The agency said the landfill also allowed spills and leaks of leachate — wastewater that seeps through the landfill and must be treated before it’s disposed of. 

The landfill accepts oil and gas drilling waste, which is high in salts, metals, and radioactive materials, and many of these pollutants have ended up in the leachate. 

Last year, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s office said it was investigating the landfill’s handling of its waste, and a judge ordered the landfill to stop sending its leachate to a nearby treatment plant. 

That plant, which failed several state water quality tests, found high levels of contaminants common in fracking waste in the leachate it was receiving from the landfill.

In February, the DEP fined the landfill $24,000 for improper disposal of the leachate. 

The latest fine is for new violations, which include the landfill’s trucks tracking mud on nearby roads, failing to put adequate soil cover on top of waste, including drilling waste, and failing to maintain equipment. 

The department has ordered the landfill to come up with a plan to fix the violations. 

A spokeswoman for the landfill didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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