State Department of Environmental Protection Collects Community Feedback on Covanta License Renewal



An aerial view of the Covanta factory in Chester.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection held a virtual hearing on Wednesday in which members of the public urged the agency not to renew the Title V operating license for the waste-to-energy facility. Garbage from Covanta Delaware Valley on Highland Avenue in Chester.

The hearing took place virtually in conjunction with a public comment period. The public can still submit comments by email to [email protected] or by mail to the DEP Southeast Regional Office, Bureau of Air Quality, 2 E. Main St., Norristown, PA 19401 until end of activities on October 4. All comments will be weighted equally, regardless of how the DEP receives them. On written comments submitted, the public should rate “Covanta Title V Renewal”.

The DEP plans to renew Covanta’s operating license for six municipal waste combustion units and their associated treatment and emission control devices.

John Repetz, community relations coordinator for DEP, said this waste-to-energy plant incinerates residual and municipal waste, generating 90 megawatts of electricity per hour.

In addition, he stated that there was no proposal to change the potential emissions from this facility.

Covanta took possession of the facility in 2005 after it was built by Westinghouse and opened in 1991. Company officials have said the facility is operating up to 99% below its government-regulated emissions standards. federal.

It processes approximately 3,500 tonnes of municipal solid waste daily, much of which comes from New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Maryland. About 30 percent of it comes from Delaware County and 1.8 percent from Chester.

Covanta representatives were unable to respond to a request for comment in time.

At Wednesday’s hearing, public comments voiced opposition to the DEP’s license renewal.

Mike Ewall, founder and executive director of Energy Justice Network, said continuous emissions monitoring should take place at this facility.

He said only nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrochloric acid were closely monitored and asked DEP to include monitoring of other elements.

Covanta displays the current broadcasts of these four people on its website.

Ewall said another 11 particles were tested once a year under best operating conditions.

He gave them the metaphor of regulating motorists.

“We would have people driving all year round without a speedometer and there would be speed cameras installed on the freeways once a year and there would be signs saying ‘Watch out, slow down, speed cameras ahead’ and the driver’s brother. would run the speed trap, ”said Ewall.

Media resident Erica Burman has called on DEP to protect Chester residents.

“Allowing the Covanta facility to operate, let alone the same permit, perpetuates the cycle of racism in the city, especially when you consider that there are controls and other technologies that could be installed to reduce the impact. on the health of the community, ”she said. noted. “The DEP must take into account the word ‘protection’ when making a decision on existing and new permits. Who are you really protecting? You are supposed to protect people and the environment, not the industry. Please remember this.

Chuck Lacy spoke about the Covanta waste-to-energy facility in Palm Beach, Florida, which he said had nitrous oxide emissions of 31 parts per million, a quarter of what he said as Covanta shows in Chester are.

“What is possible in Palm Beach is possible in Chester,” he said. “Chester deserves what Palm Beach has. “

Some, like Nancy Sleator of Lansdowne, have said it is about civil rights, adding that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires any federally funded entity such as the DEP not to take any measure having a discriminatory effect on racial minorities.

“The DEP has an affirmative duty to consider the impacts on its decisions on racial minorities and not to act in a manner that would be discriminatory,” she said, adding that the DEP should refuse the license renewal. .

Lisa Hastings joined others in her opposition to the license renewal.

“I find it embarrassing that the state of Pennsylvania is considering allowing this old, highly polluted … and obsolete facility to operate anywhere in the state, let alone a known community (of environmental justice),” he said. she declared. “Everyone in Pennsylvania has a constitutional right to a clean environment, not just those who live in affluent communities without industry. “

At 6 p.m. on September 30, Delaware County will hold its own public hearing on waste management in the County Government Center County Council meeting room at 201 W. Front St. in Media. Panelists will include the Delaware County Sustainability Commission, Delaware County Solid Waste Authority, DEP, Covanta, Energy Justice Network and Marco J. Castaldo, professor of chemical engineering and director of the Earth System Science and Environmental Engineering program at the Grove School. . of Engineering.

The panel will present information and answer questions from the audience. It will also be streamed live here:

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