Alexis Soulias is a senior at Lehigh majoring in computer engineering. She can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone.
Despite being protected by conservation easements, the beautiful agricultural land of Lower
Saucon Township is at risk of demolition by the expansion of Bethlehem Landfill. Running along the National Heritage Corridor and 9/11 Memorial Trail, the agricultural land is designated as a natural heritage site of statewide significance, yet Bethlehem Landfill is actively looking to expand into these conserved areas.
In December 2022, the landfill was approved for a zoning change, giving it a Conditional Use permit to replace its Special Exception permit. With this change, the landfill no longer needs to go to the Zoning Hearing Board to get approval for the expansion. Now it only requires approval from the Township Council.
The expansion will increase the landfill by nearly 275 acres, doubling its current size and spreading to the edge of the Lehigh River. Doing so puts the local community at risk, potentially bringing in more sewage sludge, asbestos, pharmaceutical and industrial waste and radioactive material. Once expanded to the edge of the river, rain can wash this chemical waste into waterways, harming local aquatic life and the community’s water supply.
While Bethlehem Landfill is rushing to get the expansion approved, appeals are in process, and there is still time to fight against this disruption to the beauty of our local community. We need to work together to bring awareness to the younger generation, especially with the upcoming election and primaries in May. I hope this issue reaches Lehigh’s student body, and gets this institution involved in the fight to protect our home.
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