Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Clean Air Council Appeals Waste Permit Exemption For Plastics Processing Facility In Northumberland County

On October 25, the Clean Air Council appealed a permit waiver for the Encina plastics processing facility proposed for Point Township, Northumberland County to the Environmental Hearing Board. 

The Encina Point Township facility, planned to be sited next to the Susquehanna River, would be exempt from the requirement to apply for a waste processing facility permit under the state Solid Waste Management Act.

According to the company, the facility would process up to 450,000 tons of waste a year.  An average neighborhood garbage truck holds about 20 tons of waste.

Encina’s plastics processing technology is relatively new and called “advanced recycling” by the company. It is actually closer to incineration, according to the Council. 

While Encina is not disclosing the details of its process, emissions from plastics processing facilities like the one proposed for Northumberland County may be even more hazardous than those from conventional solid waste incinerators. 

In addition to the emissions, the facilities typically generate hazardous ash, which is then shipped offsite for disposal.

Encina is proposing two phases of its Point Township project into a state permit exemption that is only allowed for the second phase: the “advanced recycling” phase. 

This exemption could allow Encina to avoid the requirement for a solid waste permit that is intended to protect the community. 

The Council said it is premature for the Department of Environmental Protection to grant any exemption for the facility as a whole. 

An exemption for Phase 1, which only mechanically processes solid waste, would never be appropriate, according to the Council. 

“Encina is trying to fool the public into believing that its unproven plastics processing technology is clean ‘recycling’,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Clean Air Council Executive Director and Chief Counsel. “DEP shouldn’t be compounding the problem by letting the proposed waste processing plant avoid a waste processing permit. Bottom line, Encina is proposing a dirty petrochemical facility that is greenwashing itself as a sustainable business and skirting the permitting process.”

"I am normally in favor of recycling as an environmentally sustainable practice but there are just too many unknowns about this unproven technology and the air and water pollution that will be associated with the project for me to support it,” said Sandy Field, Lewisburg, PA resident. “Producing these toxic chemicals right next to the river that provides our drinking water just seems like a bad idea."

Click Here for a copy of the notice of appeal.

[Posted: October 25, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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