Thursday, July 10, 2014

David wins this bout with Goliath in Chester trash wars with Covanta

Chester is home to the largest trash to energy facility in the United States. The owners struck a deal to bring trash from New York before getting the okay from Chester city planners. It appears the deal may be heading toward a no-go as city planners voted not to recommend construction of facilities to accommodate the new trash, leaving the owners to find somewhere else to burn New York’s rubbish. 

But, not so fast with popping the bubbly. According to the Daily Times article, I can still see the owners bringing New York’s trash to Chester.

The city planning commission voted Wednesday night not to recommend for approval an application from a trash incinerating company to construct a new building on its property.
Just because they can’t build a new building doesn’t mean they still can’t burn new trash. The vote was on whether or not it was okay to build a couple new buildings. The vote was not on whether they could burn new trash. 

The company recently entered into a 20-year contract to bring waste from New York City via train to Wilmington, Del., where it will then be placed on trucks and driven to the Chester facility.  Covanta proposed constructing a 1,000-square-foot office building and 15,000-square-foot rail box transfer building to handle the new mode of delivery. Currently, all of Covanta’s waste is brought in on transfer trailers, but the proposal would enable trucks carrying the rail boxes to deliver some of the waste.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but if Covanta decides to bring the New York waste that lands in Wilmington to Chester on transfer trailers like they do all the other trash, there will be no need to build the 15K square-ft rail box transfer building and everything will be fine.

The contract with New York City is to incinerate 1 million tons of garbage per year, but would not increase the permitted capacity of the facility, and truck traffic would not increase, according to Covanta Vice President John Waffenschmidt. 
How can truck traffic not increase if they’re bringing more trash on trucks? 

He said that about 400,000 tons from New York would be brought to the Chester facility, and the rest would go to other Covanta locations.
If they currently burn 1.2 million tons of trash in Chester and they’re running at 75% capacity, running at 100% capacity would total 1.5 million tons. If they brought 400,000 tons of NYC trash to Chester, wouldn’t they be 100,000 tons over capacity? 

“We receive all of our waste by truck,” Waffenschmidt said in response to some of the 100 people in attendance at the meeting questioning the application. “The request we have is to have some of that by rail. There is no request at all to increase the amount of waste.”
What did he just say? If you bring some trash to Chester by rail you reduce the amount of truck traffic? And bringing an additional 400,000 tons of waste doesn't increase your waste? I’m so confused right now. 

“There was no factual explanation as to why it was denied,” he said. “We specifically asked for something that meets the code. We don’t know that the vote was based on its merits or whether it was swayed by the residents and their comments.”

What merit is there in burning more trash in a city that has proven ill effects from the level of trash you’re already burning. And hooray to the residents who came out and voiced their strong opinions. Of course the vote was based on the resident’s input. If 6 people came out like they do at the school board meetings the vote would have certainly gone the other way. 

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