Pa. toxic waste plant defeated — for now
By JOHN LESLIE
On the evening of April 30, a contentious meeting of the Falls Township Board of Supervisors denied the site plan application for the Israeli-based Elcon Recycling to build a 32-acre toxic waste “treatment” plant in lower Bucks County, Pa.
Hundreds of area residents turned out to oppose construction of the toxic facility. Dozens spoke against the plant during the public comment period, citing cancer risks, the danger posed to area drinking water, the dangers of transporting toxic waste by truck on local roads, and air pollution. Lower Bucks a ready has an F air quality rating. The plant’s emissions, which would include lead, carbon and particulate matter would only worsen the situation. A small contingent of Building Trades workers with signs demanding construction of the plant and the creation of jobs left before the public comment period.
It’s not over, of course. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is still considering the technical application submitted by Elcon. If the DEP decides in Elcon’s favor, the company could submit a new proposal to the Township or appeal the Township’s decision in court. Township Supervisors cited critical errors of fact in the site plan proposal as the reasons for the vote to deny.
The proposed facility would boil toxic chemical and pharmaceutical waste to remove the water from it, reducing the materials to a toxic sludge. The resulting waste, which could contain elements such as lead, cadmium, and mercury, would be disposed of or stored elsewhere. An estimated 20 trucks per day would transport liquid waste to the facility daily. Elcon has promised not to transport toxic waste by barge or rail, despite the fact that a rail spur comes to the property and the location of the plant near the Delaware River. The company projected that as much as 210,000 tons of waste would be processed annually.
As we reported in a previous article “Ten percent of the U.S. population lives within 100 miles of this plant. Proximity of the proposed facility to the river is a concern because 17 million people get their drinking water from the Delaware. If a spill were to occur, water supplies could be threatened for weeks. Any release of hazardous materials into the river would threaten recreational boating and fishing.”
The fight against toxic capitalism is part of the broader struggle to combat climate change. Saving life on this planet will require a mass movement of workers and oppressed people standing up to big corporations and their political acolytes in both capitalist parties. It’s clear that powerful corporate and political interests want the Elcon facility built. After all, under capitalism profits come before the interests of people and planet. If Elcon makes another try, and we expect that they will, defeating them will require going beyond lobbying and court battles and into the streets.