WHITE DEER — The Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday it has issued an Air Quality Plan Approval for the En-Tire Logistics of Milton PA LLC co-generation facility in White Deer Township, Union County, and the environmental organization OUE, which is against the proposed facility, has raised additional concerns and vowed to continue fighting.
The En-Tire plant will be authorized to combust a mixture of fuels — which includes natural gas and chipped waste tires — that will produce 7-megawatts of electricity and provide steam to the adjacent National Gypsum facility, according to a DEP release.
“The department has done a very careful and detailed review of this application during the past 18 months to be sure that all applicable federal and state air quality regulations will be met,” DEP North-central Regional Director Marcus Kohl said.
“In some areas, our plan approval application review exceeded state and federal requirements. We responded to more than 200 written comments we received from the public.”
DEP provided opportunities for public input throughout its review process. On May 2, it conducted a combined public meeting and hearing in Allenwood that was attended by about 80 citizens, with 25 presenting testimony.
In addition, the department extended its public comment period for the draft Air Quality Plan Approval from the standard 30 days to 75 days at the request of local and state elected officials, including state Rep. Fred Keller (R-85).
OUE representatives responded to the announcement Friday afternoon.
“We are shocked but not surprised by the DEP’s decision, because it raises a serious question about what their environmental protection role is if they approve a dangerous and polluting business like this,” wrote the Rev. Leah Shade, OUE member. “The DEP received more than 200 public comments, and as far as we know have not responded to a single one. More than that, as we recently shared with the media, through Right-to-Know requests we have learned that DEP has been in constant communication with ETL since the public comment period concluded. Those same documents demonstrate that ETL has, in its own words, ‘updated and revised’ its plans. Now DEP is also saying in its release that EPA has reviewed and approved ETL’s revised plans. We want to see the documentation behind that statement as it runs contrary to the EPA letter previously made public in which EPA raises serious concerns about ETL’s plans. If ETL is allowed to be in regular communication with DEP and to revise its plans after the public comment period, we can only wonder how is DEP serving the public interest without allowing the public the same right?”
Tire Team member and White Deer Township resident Pete Mackey issued the following statement: “I am alarmed that DEP has approved for our community a tire-burning operation that has been proven through failure after failure around the country to be dangerous and toxic. There is only one other operating tire burner in America today because of those failures. All of us involved in the effort to keep this operation out of White Deer hope our elected leaders will do everything in their power to prevent this threat to our community from going any further. We also hope the public interested in having their voices heard on this matter will join the hundreds of others who have signed a petition against this tire burner atwww.facebook.com/StoptheTireBurner. Our efforts to resist allowing National Gypsum and ETL to put a tire burner in our community, near our schools and families, and the Susquehanna River Valley have only begun.”
DEP plans to hold an informational meeting with interested residents in October to discuss the approval process, what the roles of DEP and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were in the review, and what the issuance of the plan approval means. The details of this meeting will be announced in the near future.
DEP said it has determined that the proposed emission levels of air contaminants satisfy Best Available Control Technology (BACT) as well as the agency’s Best Available Technology (BAT) requirements. The department also has determined that this facility satisfies all applicable requirements of state and federal air quality regulations, including Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) requirements.
Although not required by state or federal regulations, DEP requested and En-Tire agreed to perform an inhalation risk assessment based on the estimated chronic risks posed by the proposed facility operating at maximum load, as well as two acute exposure scenarios from short-term emissions.
The assessment included a selection of 35 Compounds of Potential Concern (COPC) that DEP determined would be generated by the combustion of tire-derived fuel. The results of this assessment determined that the levels of risk posed by both chronic and acute exposure to the modeled COPCs do not exceed DEP’s inhalation risk assessment standards.
The department, in accordance with regulations, also sent the draft plan approval to EPA for its review, and EPA approved, with comments, DEP’s issuance of it.
According to DEP, the En-Tire project includes a combustion unit rated at 185 million BTUs per hour of heat input that incorporates kiln and boiler stages in series. The project also includes the construction of a dry sorbent storage and handling system, a cooling tower, and one aqueous ammonia storage tank. Emissions from the combustion unit will be controlled by a dry scrubber, fabric collector, oxidation catalyst, selective catalytic reduction, and a wet scrubber.
Individuals interested in reviewing the Air Quality Plan Approval or the Comment and Response document can go to www.dep.state.pa.us and click on “Regional Resources,” then “North-central,” then “Community Information.”