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Wellsboro Airport Seeks Expansion

Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group is concerned

 

by John Vogt - December 12, 2014

Craig Musser, Manager of the Wellsboro Johnston Airport requested that Wellsboro Home Page do a broadcast to address their runway expansion project and answer any questions or concerns that people may have. Per his request – today, as a public service to our community we have expanded our broadcast time to do just that. We will hear from both the Wellsboro Johnston Airport and Clean Earth, as well as the Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group and their concerns.

The primary benefit for this runway expansion is safety, but there are other benefits as well. As part of the project, Clean Earth would provide hundreds of thousands of tons of engineered fill. This is not fracking material and Wellsboro Johnston Airport believes this project to be safe. The airport will also acquire a 30,000 square-foot building when Clean Earth has completed their operations. In addition, the airport will receive monetary funding.

Wellsboro Johnston Airport Manager, Craig Musser, stated clearly that “before one truck load of that fill moves onto airport property, there will be an agreement that if they do not get phase two – the material will be moved by Clean Earth at the expense of Clean Earth.” Craig went on to say that not only is the PA State DEP looking at the entire project, but the FAA will also have to approve it – giving two checks and balances on the safety of the project. Mr. Musser also said, “What better (Poster Perfect) reuse/recycle of material (dirt) then to incorporate into the runway extension at a public owned airport.” Both Wellsboro Johnston Airport and Clean Earth insist that the project is environmentally safe for Pine Creek and the community.

However, Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group is concerned about how this runway expansion may have a negative environmental impact on Pine Creek and are requesting a public hearing. It should be noted that Wellsboro Johnston Airport and Clean Earth also support a public hearing to get their project details out to the public.

Below is a written statement submitted to Wellsboro Home Page by the Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group:

Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group thanks Wellsboro Home Page for the opportunity to share our concerns about the proposal to use drilling returns for the airport runway lengthening. The company offering to provide some half-million TONS of “engineered fill” has previously used this material on polluted sites (“brownfields”) in eastern Pennsylvania under a “Research and Development” permit of some 3 years duration. The facts about the effort to use this fill on a pristine site in Tioga County overlooking Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon and Pine Creek are unclear, so PCHPG, other groups, and many individuals are calling on our Department of Environmental Protection to hold a Public Meeting on this proposed project. The company, named Clean Earth, has been cited numerous times at other sites for environmental violations, although their application [prepared by an ‘independent’ consulting firm] incorrectly reported “no prior violations”. Additionally, PCHPG believes the “science” behind using cement to “stabilize” deep well cuttings [both horizontal and vertical], to a depth/ thickness of some 75 FEET, is untested through time in this still-clean environment with much more severe winters than in previous sites.

Our concerns are increased by their various self-descriptions: the contract Clean Earth presented to Wellsboro’s Airport proposed using “processed drill cuttings”, describing their “DEP-permitted facility” as “[receiving] SHALLOW pipeline drill cuttings” in their introduction, but then later says it will use “drill cuttings, soils or other acceptable wastes”. And the actual Airport proposal to the DEP, while confirming the project will use “waste”, does NOT answer the form’s question about “type of waste”, merely calling it “engineered fill”. Furthermore, the current proposal is ONLY for “phase one”: bringing all this material to Delmar Township from a huge stockpile in Lycoming County. The actual USE of this “fill” will need approval for “phase two” and “phase three”, for which ‘Clean Earth’ will “submit… detailed information… as further plans are developed”. To repeat, in their words, “At this time, Clean Earth is only seeking approval of the Phase one area” [for ‘engineered fill’ storage: an area 50′ by 1000′].

This is like your neighbor building a bar, saying he’ll worry about getting a liquor license after the bar is built! Or, as we have all seen, one more Energy Industry attempt to establish ‘facts on the ground’ while the regulators and citizens are trying to assess ‘what’s happening’? PCHPG has NOT taken a stand in opposition to this project, but we feel the residents of Tioga County deserve a thorough examination of this proposal BEFORE ‘engineered fill’, with NO current permitted use, starts being trucked from Lycoming County to our Airport.

Wellsboro Home Page is also encouraging a public hearing and continued debate on this project so that all the details and facts can be understood from both vantage points. We would like to see the project succeed, but only if it is environmentally safe for Pine Creek and our community. We encourage both sides to meet and continue discussions to address the concerns. We believe that there is a way to work things out that will mutually benefit all the organizations involved – while protecting our community.

BECAUSE OF TIME CONSTRAINTS AND IN ORDER TO MAKE ROOM FOR DEBATE ON THE CONCERNS OF THIS PROJECT, WE DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO COVER ALL OF THE BENEFITS OF THE PROJECT IF IT WERE TO BE DONE SAFELY. PLEASE JOIN WELLSBORO HOME PAGE NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART 2 OF THIS FEATURE AS WE FURTHER EXPLORE THE BENEFITS OF THIS PROJECT. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE BENEFITS AS WELL AS THE CONCERNS.

Credits:

Writing: John Vogt

 

Produced by Vogt Media

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