Friday, October 20, 2023

Encina Fort Union LLC Withdraws Stormwater Permit Application For A Facility That Chemically Recycles Waste Plastics In Northumberland County After It Could Not Respond To Major Deficiencies In 4 Months

On October 18,
Encina Fort Union LLC withdrew its NPDES stormwater permit application for a facility that chemically recycles waste plastics after DEP cited major deficiencies in the application on July 6, 2023.

DEP’s July 6 deficiency letter also said the company did not adequately respond to a February 6, 2023 deficiency letter from the Northumberland County Conservation District concerning their Chapter 102 erosion and sedimentation control permit.

Encina’s application contained over a dozen major deficiencies and used “wholly inadequate” design and modeling approaches, according to DEP’s letter.

DEP initially gave the company until September 4 to reply to the deficiencies.  

At the company's request, DEP extended that deadline to November 3-- a full four months to respond-- but the company determined on October 18 it could not meet that deadline either and decided to withdraw the application.

This permit withdrawal means the company must now redesign its construction plans and restart the permitting process. 

The proposed $1.1 billion facility would use an energy-intensive process called pyrolysis to break down 450,000 tons of plastic waste each year into chemicals such as benzene, toluene, propylene, and xylene— some of which are carcinogenic. 

Encina has not disclosed details about its pyrolysis process.

“Encina’s proposed facility uses unproven, undisclosed plastics technology that will produce carcinogenic and highly flammable chemicals. The fact that Encina has proven unable to comply with basic permitting requirements is a tremendous red flag for this project,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Clean Air Council’s Executive Director and Chief Counsel. “Local and state governments must continue to scrutinize Encina’s permit applications to protect residents and the environment from the dangerous impacts of this project.”

“This is just another example of one of our major concerns,” said Sandy Field, member of Save our Susquehanna. “They don’t seem to know what they’re doing. When members of our community ask technical questions about the process, they say it’s proprietary or give evasive non-answers. Now it seems that DEP also wants details that Encina can’t provide and this is just for the permit to handle stormwater during construction. The way they seem to overreach with no technical expertise is very concerning to us. It seems like they’re just winging it.”

The permit withdrawal follows a long series of setbacks to Encina’s proposed facility, according to the Clean Air Council 

This summer, DEP denied the Act 537 sewage facilities plan amendment required for this project’s wastewater treatment system. 

In March 2023, the Point Township Zoning Board denied Encina’s request for a zoning variance to exceed height limitations after hearing comments from local residents. 

Click Here for a copy of DEP’s deficiency letter.

Click Here for a copy of Encina’s withdrawal letter.

(Photo: Proposed Encina plastics recycling plant, Chesapeake Bay Journal.)  


-- Bay Journal - Ad Crable: Plastics Recycling Plant Proposed For Susquehanna River Shoreline

[Posted: October 20, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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