Local environmental officials are encouraging people to take timely action against a proposed hazardous waste treatment facility slated for Falls Township in Pennsylvania.
Elcon Recycling Services, LLC, was delayed in their efforts to construct a hazardous waste treatment facility in Falls Township following a decision from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to issue a notice of intent to deny the company’s application.
Members of the general public have until July 15 to make a formal move for their voice to be heard.
The decision came from the DEP on May 15 in their initial “draft” denial of the application, which was preceded by a 10-month technical review of materials submitted by Elcon’s proposal to build a facility that would potentially process between 150,000 and 210,000 tons of chemical and pharmaceutical waste each year, on a plot of land in the Keystone Industrial Port Complex.
The state’s DEP officials said in statement that they found a number of “outstanding deficiencies that remain unaddressed to DEP’s satisfaction.” DEP officials also reported that unless Elcon can address the deficiencies in the application, the state department will have no choice but to move forward with a full application denial.
Although the initial decision by the DEP to deny the application in its second phase of the permitting process, it serves as a positive note to opponents of the proposed facility. Officials said a notice of intent to deny is not a final or appealable action by the DEP.
The DEP officials said that this is only a draft decision, so the applicant may comment on the notice and submit materials to address the deficiencies cited by DEP. There is also an opportunity to the public for comment and review. Officials said that the comment period will open on June 1 with a publication and will close on July 15.
Officials said that all comments should be emailed to RA-EPHWELCON@pa.gov., and that all comments received during the 45-day period will be reviewed and addressed in a public document.
The Bucks Protect Our Water & Air (POWA) organization, a local group that aims to improve the air quality and preserve the Delaware River in Bucks County and surrounding communities, have been frequent attendees at public meetings designated for the Elcon project, issued a statement following the recent decision from the DEP to encourage continuous support for denial of the application.
“If you have any expertise you can refer to, such as health related, chemical, water/flooding, etc. that would definitely be helpful,” Bucks POWA officials said in a statement. “If so, please include your background or credentials. You can also write on behalf of an organization, club, etc.
“It is important that we do what we can to support the DEP’s decision during the current official comment period, so the decision to reject Elcon becomes permanent,” Bucks POWA officials added.
Currently in its second phase of the application process, Elcon’s proposed waste treatment center slotted in the Bucks County area, is located only several miles away from Bordentown and Florence and could potentially pose multiple risks to nearby residents.
According to the company’s submitted plans, more than 194,000 tons of hazardous waste could be potentially imported annually by truck or rail, and burn more than a million pounds of waste a day using thermal oxidation.
Multiple concerns from opponents of the plan include on-site accidents and hazardous spills, which could leak harmful materials into the Delaware River since the facility is slated to use the waterway, and potential air pollution from the facility given strong northwest and westerly winds in the region, which Bordentown municipal officials said could blow toward the area.
Not only is pollution a foremost concern for opponents, the proposed site plans raised some apprehensions at a special meeting hosted by the Falls Township Board of Supervisors on April 30. The board members prompted a series of questioning toward three Elcon representatives s present at the meeting, and pointed out multiple discrepancies with the plans such as the lack of safe escape routes for first responders and facility workers in the event of an on-site emergency.
Following questioning and testimony between the board members and Elcon’s reps as well as a public comment period at the April meeting, the board unanimously made a motion to deny the application and passed it. Although board member Robert Harvie Jr. noted that their decision had no final bearings on the application’s permitting process, it served as the township official’s statement to the DEP that they were not in favor of the proposed facility.
DEP officials said that the department is currently continuing its review of two additional applications from Elcon for air quality and stormwater.
A copy of the hazardous waste application and deficiencies noted by DEP, as well as correspondence on the project, opportunities for public participation, and additional applications under review can be found at www.dep.pa.gov/elcon.
People wanting to make a formal request to the DEP for their decision on the Elcon application can also mail their submission to the following address:
The Department of Environmental Protection, Waste Management, Southeast Regional Office, 2 East Main Street, Norristown, PA 19401
DEP officials said in statement that they ask individuals to include “reasonably available references, factual grounds and supporting material.”