Lehigh Valley

Lower Saucon supervisors balk at hiring consultant to investigate odors

Supervisors want meeting with DEP before taking action

LOWER SAUCON TWP., Pa. - Lower Saucon Twp. supervisors, who continue to wrestle with complaints from residents about odors wafting through local neighborhoods from several possible sources, decided Wednesday night to temporarily punt on hiring a consultant to tackle the problem.

Instead, supervisors voted 4-0 to have Lower Saucon Township manager Jack Cahalan set up a meeting with representatives from the state's Department of Environmental Protection rather than hire Ambient Air Quality Services, Inc. of Lincoln University, Pa., Chester County.

Lou Militana, a meteorologist, partner and principal consultant, returned to address supervisors again Wednesday night, armed with a plan to train local residents through both Internet-based training and odor-sensitivity training.

The training would be provided by St. Croix Sensory, Inc. of Stillwater, Minn.

Residents have complained that smells are emanating from the 224-acre IESI Bethlehem Landfill at 2335 Applebutter Road and several other area businesses.

The other businesses, according to Cahalan, include Bethlehem Renewable Energy, the Bethlehem Sewage Treatment Plant, Praxair, the Calpine Energy Plant, the Columbia Pipeline Plant and Columbia Pipeline Storage.

"I'm not convinced that it's one source causing the odors," Militana said. "It could be wastewater versus landfill versus natural gas," Militana said. "We may see better descriptions of the odors from training people."

Militana said that after the Internet and odor training of about a dozen residents, kits containing stainless steel canisters that residents can use to take an air sample would be made available.

Residents would write the date and time of the sample on the canister and return it for testing and analysis.

Militana also suggested installing a portable weather station to record wind speeds at the time odor complaints are recorded.

Residents told council that they know what they are smelling -- leachate caused by rainwater that flows through the IESI landfill and gathers in ponds at the landfill site.

Several residents told council it should not be spending $20,000 and wasting time with such an analysis.

"Odor experts are few and far between and there is nobody local," Militana told council. "That said, $20,000 is a lot of money."

Township solicitor B. Lincoln Treadwell wondered whether the proposed air samples would be all the officials could "hang their hat on" and if Militana and St. Croix Sensory could be called as experts in case of a lawsuit.

Councilwoman Priscilla deLeon said that the odor ID program could be run without the DEP's input.

"With DEP, residents can't give out an address when reporting an odor. They're not helping us," she said. "Residents should keep calling DEP, their state Senator, their state representative.

DeLeon made the motion to ask for a meeting with the DEP.

"I think we need to talk to DEP before we commit," she said.

Council member Glenn Kern was absent from Wednesday night's meeting.

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