Several DTE Midstream employee volunteers with support from the DTE Energy Foundation recently helped to clean up a ravine in northeast Pennsylvania littered with illegally dumped tires. Dozens of ravines, streams, and backroad areas in rural Susquehanna County have been scarred by years of illicit dumping with tires, household electronics, mattresses, furniture and other debris resulting in environmental degradation and creating public health hazards.

DTE Midstream employees were among a team of about 50 local volunteers who removed 100 tires embedded in a deep ravine off Quarry Road in Lanesboro Borough which drains into a tributary of the Starrucca Creek and feeds the Susquehanna River.

DTE Midstream employees and community volunteers took a break during their work to remove an illegally-dumped tire pile choking a ravine leading into the Starrucca Creek. The DTE Energy Foundation awarded a $30,000 grant to support the cleanup as well as ravine restoration and stream bank stabilization work.

The site is about 15 miles from DTE Midstream headquarters in New Milford, Pennsylvania and two miles from a  Bluestone Gathering Pipeline compressor station. Intersecting the area, the Bluestone Gathering Pipeline is a 265-mile system that transports local shale gas to markets in Pennsylvania and New York. The ravine’s steep slope and inaccessibility prevented earlier cleanup attempts, compounded by a lack of funding for stabilization work to prevent the ravine from eroding into the stream.

The local Friends of Starrucca Creek had identified several cleanup sites along a 13-mile stretch of the creek, including the one near the DTE Midstream compressor station, which was among the final ravines on its list to clean and clear. The “tireless effort” cleanup project was led by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), whose Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup Program tackles cleanups in areas like the Quarry Road location. Michael Spangenberg, a DTE Midstream employee, was instrumental in bringing the issue to the attention of DTE Midstream leadership and helping to secure support from the DTE Energy Foundation.

Volunteers formed a human chain to remove the tire pile. A breeding ground for mosquitos, many of the tires were filled with water, mud and dirt making the job that much harder. The tire removal and accompanying ravine stabilization will improve the quality of water flowing into the Starrucca Creek. A $30,000 grant from the DTE Energy Foundation will stabilize the ravine with rock armoring to prevent erosion.

“This kind of collaborative restoration is much needed for many rural municipalities that don’t have the budgets to take on this magnitude of waste buildup,” said PEC Program Coordinator Palmira Miller. “We’re very grateful for the DTE Energy Foundation donation, which enabled us to secure the supplies and services to properly and safely dispose of the tires as well as to stabilize the ravine and restore the area to its natural state.” The cleanup team included a DTE Midstream safety director to ensure the work was injury-free. Local, county and state elected officials also rolled up their sleeves to help.  

Since 2007, the PEC’s Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup Program has cleaned up more than 200 illegal dumpsites in Pennsylvania, removing over 1,110 tons of trash, almost 170 tons of scrap and 400 tons of tires.