FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2023
Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Files Citizen Suit Against Modern Landfill for Clean Water Act Violations, Including Dangerous PFAS Contamination
Modern Landfill has violated its permit limits repeatedly since 2020 and has discharged high levels of dangerous PFAS chemicals without permit authorization
Wrightsville, PA — Today, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper filed a citizen suit against Republic Services of Pennsylvania LLC and its York County, Pennsylvania, Modern Landfill in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The citizen suit cites Modern Landfill’s repeated violations of its water quality-based permit limits under the federal Clean Water Act, and unpermitted discharges of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
According to the filed suit, Modern Landfill is discharging pollutants including PFAS into Kreutz Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna, above their permit levels. This has dramatically degraded water quality and safety throughout the Creek and Susquehanna River.
“We believe clean water access and fishable, swimmable waters should be available to everyone who relies on the Susquehanna River for their lives and livelihoods,” said Ted Evgeniadis, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. “However, Modern Landfill has taken that right from the people in York County. No corporation’s profits are ever worth a community losing access to clean water.”
PFAS are dangerous chemicals that are widely linked to serious public health and environmental impacts. Often referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS do not break down over time. Instead, these dangerous chemicals accumulate in people, wildlife, and the environment. As a result, PFAS have been found in surface water, air, soil, food, and many commercial materials. Scientific studies increasingly link these toxic chemicals to serious health conditions such as cancer, liver and kidney disease, reproductive issues, immunodeficiencies, and hormonal disruptions.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency sets the public adverse health effect thresholds for PFOS at 0.02 ppt and PFOA at 0.004 ppt. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has recommended adopting a state rule that would limit the presence of PFOA to 14 parts per trillion (ppt) and PFOS to 18 ppt. The rule is awaiting the state attorney general’s signature. It would require municipalities and water providers to regularly monitor water for PFAS, and treat the water if it exceeds those standards. However, in June 2022, PFOS and PFOA in Kreutz Creek were measured at 374.3 parts per trillion (ppt) and 847 ppt, respectively, and 25 other PFAS compounds were also measured at exceptionally high levels. Those high levels of PFOS and PFOA put local residents in York County at higher risk for adverse health effects.
The measured PFAS levels from Kreutz Creek above and below Modern Landfill’s discharge pipe are the worst overall among all samples collected by Waterkeepers at over 100 sites across the country. The levels of PFOS and PFOA measured in the landfill’s discharges are 18,715 and 211,750 times higher, respectively, than the EPA guidance levels, and 21 and 60 times higher, respectively, than Pennsylvania’s proposed standards.
“Modern Landfill continues to violate the Clean Water Act on a consistent basis. The landfill’s discharges threaten the health and safety of local residents and the public who want to recreate and fish around Kreutz Creek. The owners of the landfill must be held accountable for violating the Clean Water Act and putting the public at risk,” said Jim Hecker, Environmental Enforcement Director, Public Justice.
Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper continues to sample Kreutz Creek on a routine basis and is assessing levels of PFAS in individual residents’ wells throughout Lower Windsor Township, York County, Pennsylvania.
Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper is represented by Jim Hecker at Public Justice in Washington, D.C. and Steve Harvey of Steve Harvey Law LLC in Philadelphia, PA.
The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association is a licensed Waterkeeper® 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the ecological health of the Lower Susquehanna River Watershed and the Chesapeake Bay. The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper patrols the river for illegal pollution, and when necessary, enforces environmental laws to protect the river and communities that depend on it.
Public Justice is a national public interest advocacy organization that fights against abusive corporate power and predatory practices, the assault on civil rights and liberties, and the destruction of the earth’s sustainability. Public Justice specializes in connecting high-impact litigation with strategic communications and the strength of its partnerships to fight these abusive and discriminatory systems and win social and economic justice.
Steve Harvey Law LLC is a trial and litigation law firm in Philadelphia, PA, that handles complex litigation for people and organizations seeking to vindicate their rights, including matters affecting the public interest such as lawsuits to remedy environmental contamination.