Lehigh Valley

IESI proposes realignment, garbage wall to address landfill capacity concerns

LOWER SAUCON TWP., Pa. - IESI Bethlehem Landfill officials unveiled a realignment plan Tuesday that would create 28 acres of disposal and slope cap area to the southeast end of the facility.

The proposed project would also create a 1,200 foot long, 45- to 48-foot tall wall along the property to prevent garbage from accumulating and spilling onto the neighboring Applebutter Road.

Landfill District Manager Sam Donato said at Tuesday's Lower Saucon Township Council meeting that the restructured space will consist of six acres of newly lined disposal area and 22 acres of slope cap.

"We have determined that realigning the landfill within the current permit area as proposed will extend our landfill operations- allowing us to provide ongoing service to our customers," said Donato in a press release.

If approved, the move would increase the site's disposal capacity by 3.1 million cubic yards for the five or six years it remains in service.

IESI officials also said the "Southeast Realignment" project will not impact the company's plans to expand to the west of the landfill, a move that is still awaiting approval from Lower Saucon.

Donato added that while the western expansion is being decided on, this would serve as a stop gap measure to deal with their ever approaching capacity limit.

"While [the expansion] is still trying to be resolved, we're working on an alternative," he said. "We do have something in the works and we're working on it."

According to Donato though, the plan is still in the "conceptual" phase, and will likely take three years to go through an intensive approval process that would include environmental and technical assessment as well as public comment.

The landfill is expected to reach capacity sometime in 2016.

Landfill representatives said the wall planned for the southeastern stretch of the property will be reinforced with artificial soil in a process called Mechanically Stabilized Earth, or MSE. This should allow it to handle with the additional waste expected at the facility.

Council member Priscilla DeLeon requested that the planners provide further details about the specific uses at the property, having spoken at prior meetings about the need to push forward with this initiative to deal with potential garbage "landslides."

"There were concerns with stability and compaction of the garbage that was already dumped there," she said. "We had past concerns earlier with trash over trash."

The board was not asked to take any action on the initiative Tuesday.

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