Local officials and residents opposing ELCON’s proposal to build a liquid hazardous waste storage and processing facility in Falls Township, Bucks County, discussed necessary action to take at a meeting in Bordentown City’s Carslake Community Center on Oct. 10.
ELCON, a hazardous waste processing company, is currently applying for permits to build a treatment facility in the Keystone Industrial Port Complex, located several miles away from Bordentown.
With a packed room of concerned locals at the community center, environmentalists informed and discussed their worries about the facility with attendees.
Given the proposed treatment facility’s proximity to Bordentown, both township and city mayors were on hand at the meeting to discuss their stance on the issue, and how to approach the matter.
“This [facility being built] is probably the most dangerous thing that could happen to us in the next 30 years,” Township Mayor Stephen Benowitz said. “We cannot allow this to happen in our own backyard. We need to pull our resources together from other river-front communities with both states and have enough money, legally, to fight this abomination.”
“We are committed to fighting this and do whatever we can do in a rightful and honest way to ensure that this [facility being built] doesn’t happen,” City Mayor James Lynch said.
Now in its fourth year of proposal after several denials in which application materials were rejected by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the agency stated in July that ELCON had provided all the required documents and that it would engage in a 10-month technical review.
If the review is cleared by May, ELCON could potentially import up to 194,000 tons of hazardous waste annually by truck or rail, and burn more than a million pounds of waste a day using thermal oxidation. Given strong northwest and westerly winds in the region, air pollution from the facility would blow toward Bordentown.
Opponents of the plan worry that any on-site accidents could cause hazardous materials to make their way into the Delaware River, since the facility is slated to use the waterway. In addition, opponents worried that any of the approximately 17 to 25 trucks transporting waste throughout the region each day could potentially get into an accident at the treatment facility, leaking hazardous waste into the river.
Opponents also worried that waste transported by rail is expected to travel within 200 feet of wetlands and waterways connected to the Delaware River. Any spill or accident could result in the waste contaminating the river.
The Delaware River serves as a drinking water supply for approximately eight million people in the surrounding area.
During the hearing’s open session, former New Jersey Assemblyman and City Mayor Joseph Malone advised officials to concentrate on a specific strategy and approach.
“I would seriously urge that the leadership of the city and the township and the group that was put together [to fight this issue], to sit down and strategize as to exactly how you’re going to move forward,” said Malone. “It’s going to take a serious effort to legally look at this thing and move forward because if you don’t have a strategy ahead of [ELCON], you’re going to lose.”
Malone suggested the towns work with high office government representatives from both states, or encourage legislators to push for a bill that would provide dedicated funding for the movement against ELCON.
For people seeking more information or looking to get involved with the matter, visit www.stopelcon.com or www.delwareriverkeeper.org.