The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 9, 2014

Tire burner project terminated in Union County

ALLENWOOD — NEW COLUMBIA — The $48 million White Deer Energy Project, more than 30 months in the making, is no more.

The company behind the proposed tire-burning facility in West Milton asked the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to end the air quality plan approval it won in September, the state agency confirmed Thursday.

Parent company En-Tire Logistics LLC of Bedford, Texas, sent DEP a written request Thursday — following oral notification Tuesday — to shelve the approval as it will not pursue the proposed facility in White Deer Township, said Daniel Spadoni, spokesman for the Williamsport regional office.

A copy of En-Tire’s letter to DEP was provided to The Daily Item by the “Tire Burner Team,” a grassroots group of citizens opposed to the plant. The letter was signed by Chief Executive Officer Willess Vincent and states “due to business reasons, specifically the loss of site control in relation to the plan approval,” it would end the project.

Sources have asserted En-Tire ended the project because National Gypsum may have pulled its support. The steam and power generation plant was to supply National Gypsum Co.’s West Milton building in Union County. It would have burned recycled tires to generate 7 megawatts of electricity and steam for the adjacent plant.

National Gypsum was a partner with En-Tire Logistics, Emanuel Tire Co. and All4 Inc. on the project.

Based in Charlotte, N.C., National Gypsum did not respond to The Daily Item requests for comment by deadline Thursday.

En-Tire Logistics in Texas also did not respond to The Daily Item request for comment by deadline. A woman who answered the phone Thursday at Emanuel Tire in Baltimore said that President Norm Emanuel was unavailable.

The Environmental Hearing Board of DEP posted En-Tire’s letter and sent a copy to all those who had appealed the air quality permit approval, granted in September. They included Tire Burner Team members and White Deer Township officials.

All were notified that today’s hearing was canceled because of En-Tire’s decision, said Carroll Diefenbach, White Deer Township supervisor who was informed of the action by environmental attorneys representing his municipality.

“This is fantastic news,” said Rev. Leah Schade, a coordinator of the Tire Burner Team. “A tire burner doesn’t belong in this community, and it doesn’t belong anywhere,” adding the group is “grateful to our volunteers for working so hard across these many months.”

Pete Mackey, also active on the Tire Burner Team, said building the tire burning plant “never made any sense,” especially given the close proximity to White Deer Elementary School, the Susquehanna River and “in the middle of our farms and neighborhoods.”

State and local officials were quick to credit the citizen efforts as a main component in defeating the project, as well as National Gypsum for listening to what citizens had to say.

State Rep. Fred Keller, R-85, Kreamer, said while he didn’t know the specifics of what happened, National Gypsum “has been part of Union County for many years. They’re a good business and appear to be responsible.”

Keller said En-Tire’s plant was “not the kind of thing the community wanted. ... I’m sure the community will be pleased (National Gypsum) listened to what they had to say.”

“Hats off to the citizens who rose to the occasion and made National Gypsum uncomfortable with partnering with En-Tire,” Union County Commissioner John Showers said, calling the withdrawal “great news.”

Citizen efforts to make National Gypsum uncomfortable with the project appeared to be “the game plan,” Showers said, adding there were “rumblings” that National Gypsum was getting nervous about the project.

“To have National Gypsum respond so quickly is just amazing,” he said.

En-Tire’s request will be granted under “applicable requirements of the department’s Chapter 127 air quality regulations,” Spadoni said.

DEP, he said, “has no further comment at this time.”

 

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