Elcon addresses transportation, contamination concerns for proposed Falls waste treatment plant

JACK FIRNENO / WIRE PHOTO

JACK FIRNENO / WIRE PHOTO

Last week, representatives of Elcon Recycling found themselves again in front of Bucks County residents to discuss their plans to build a liquid hazardous waste treatment plant in Falls Township.

In what could be considered a followup to a large, more general meeting in Langhorne two weeks ago, Dr. Rengarajan Ramesh fielded questions on behalf of Elcon Recycling regarding the company’s plan to build a liquid hazardous waste treatment plant in Falls Township.

At a meeting before the Lower Makefield Township Supervisors and a roomful of residents, Ramesh gave a presentation on the  plans and its environmental impact. He also

addressed some questions that were raised at the Langhorne meeting but not fully answered at the time.

Among those concerns was the air pollution and possibilities of accidents and spills caused by trucks transporting hazardous chemicals to the proposed plant site at Keystone Industrial Port Complex. Ramesh said a traffic study would be completed and presented during the second phase of the company’s 12- to 16-month approval process.

According to projections now, he said, there would actually be less traffic if the plant is here, because those chemicals are currently travelling from and through Pennsylvania and the East Coast to plants as far as Arkansas and Texas. Treating them closer to their production sites, which are mostly in this region, will reduce risk.

Ramesh also addressed the chance of contamination once the waste water is in the plant, especially since the location is about one mile from the Delaware River. In response to community concerns, he said, the treatment process is enclosed in a building with polymer-lined cement that exceeds the protections required by law.

“This is not waste incineration,” he stressed. “This is currently considered, globally, the best treatment.”

Information regarding the plan by Elcon, along with video from the meeting, are available at http://www.lmt.org.

In a statement following the meeting, Fred Stine of the Delaware River Keepers reiterated many of the concerns residents raised after Ramesh’s presentation.

“Dr. Ramesh stated that 30 percent of their anticipated customers would be local,” he wrote. “But that logically means the overwhelming majority of the waste stream is currently not on area roads and building [the] Elcon facility here will be introducing that traffic and potential accidental spilling in a densely populated area next to drinking water supplies.”

Stine also reiterated concerns about Biles Creek, which is a half-mile from the plant site and leads to the Delaware River. Specifically, a resident noted that Elcon representatives seemed to be either downplaying the Creek’s location or trying to hide it by using a different image in their presentation in Lower Makefield than the one used in Langhorne.

“How are we going to trust them that they are really operating their facility safely and protecting the community as they are required to?” Stine asked.

This meeting was part of the 12- to 18-month process for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to decide if the plant will meet all federal and state requirements. The company will submit various applications through September, after which the DEP will hold a series of public meetings before its decision.

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