Elcon opposition strengthens as company further delays approval process

0525161930Elcon Recycling still has not submitted Phase B of its plan to build a liquid waste treatment plant in Falls Township to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

There is no deadline for the submission, but this marks the second time this year the Israeli-based company, whose proposal faces strong opposition, has pushed back its own timeline.

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio believes the change in the timeline is due to that opposition, where people have voiced their disapproval in public hearings and by contacting their elected representatives.

“I suspect it happened because we’ve raised these issues already,” he said. “The longer this goes, the better off we are.”

Florio spoke at a meeting last Wednesday at the Bordentown Township Community Center in Bordentown, New Jersey. The event was sponsored by the NJ Sierra Club, the Delaware River Keepers, Protect Our Air and Water, and the Clean Water Council. Florio was the first in a series of speakers who discussed the risks on both sides of the Delaware River with the approximately 80 people in attendance.

For those familiar with the plans for the plant, which calls for liquid hazardous waste to be shipped here from the region and neighboring states for processing, the litany of concerns were familiar: There’s always the risk of trucks, which will be carrying more than 10,000 gallons of hazardous wastewater, getting into accidents on local roads. A spill, if not contained, would quickly seep into the soil and water, since the proposed site at the Keystone Industrial Complex is less than a mile from the Delaware River.

There was also concern about whether the company would seek the use of local railroad lines to transport hazardous waste. Elcon representatives have said in public meetings they weren’t considering doing so, but stopped short of confirming they wouldn’t consider it in the future.

Speakers in Bordentown also pointed to spills and accidents in other areas, from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to an accident at a somewhat similar chemical plant in Charlestown, South Carolina — incidents where the risk, and actual fallout from the accidents, were underestimated.

It was a lot to take in, admitted Bordentown Deputy Mayor Jill Popko, who introduced each speaker. But, she stressed, “Don’t leave and say, there’s nothing I can do. You can stop it.”

Elcon has already submitted Phase One of its application to the DEP as part of the 12- to 18-month approval process to determine if the plant will meet all federal and state requirements.

As of the beginning of this year, the company projected to submit Part B, a document more than a thousand pages long that’s expected to address public concerns, in March.

However, after a public hearing in Langhorne on Feb. 23, the company decided to wait until the end of April to submit Part B. That time quietly passed with no submission.

In a statement to the Midweek Wire on May 26, the company’s representatives wrote, “Elcon will notify the media and interested citizens when it submits its Part B application to PADEP. Our focus, as always, is on the quality of any process and product that bears the Elcon name. We appreciate the community’s interest and concerns, and we are taking the community’s input into account as part of our plans.”

The statement also noted, “Elcon will not seek the use of rail for materials transport to or from the proposed site in Falls Township as part of its Part B application,” and said the company has “secured permits to proceed with siting of a new facility in Ghent, Belgium.”

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