By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
Add 160 Bucknell University faculty members to the list of those against a proposed tire-derived fuel plant in White Deer Township.
The group says the facility conflicts with several township zoning ordinances regarding health and environmental protection.
In a joint statement Friday, faculty of the Lewisburg university — about 10 miles southeast of White Deer Township — note the proposed White Deer Energy Project conflicts with applicable township zoning ordinances in that:
It does not “promote the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the residents of the township” as listed in section 101;
It does not achieve “preservation of the natural, scenic and historic values in the environment” as listed in section 102;
It has not been demonstrated to be operable in such a manner that zoning ordinance requirements for odor, toxic or noxious matter, dust and fly ash, and/or smoke will all be satisfied, as listed in section 420.
“We call this community home and feel great concern about the potential impact of the proposed TDF facility on the health, well-being and future of our children, families and friends who share this community,” the statement reads.
Alfred Kentigern Siewers, an associate professor of English and affiliate faculty in Environmental Studies at Bucknell, sent the statement to The Daily Item.
Supervisor Carroll Diefenbach with White Deer Township said the alleged conflict with zoning ordinances is a matter of interpretation.
“Everyone speculates what our ordinances say,” he said. “But a lot of it is interpretation. Until we find out what all this plant is going to do ... we don’t know what is going to happen safety- and healthwise.”
The township ordinances direct officials to protect the safety and welfare of its businesses as well as its citizens, Diefenbach said. “We all have to live here. And we’re not sure what exactly this plant is going to do.”
Township supervisors told concerned citizens at a meeting in June that unless the plant violates municipal ordinances, they cannot reject the applications once they are submitted.
The township has not heard any new information from the state Department of Environmental Protection about the White Deer Energy Project, Diefenbach said. Last month, DEP told The Daily Item it is still reviewing the more than 200 public comments it received about the tire-derived fuel plant that would use recycled tires as an fuel source, providing energy to the adjoining National Gypsum facility in West Milton.
The Bucknell statement also notes the official objections to the plant from state Rep. Fred Keller, R-85 Kreamer, and Union County commissioners as well documented concerns from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Lung Association of Pennsylvania over what it called En-Tire Logistic’s inadequate data and insufficient air-quality proposal for the plant.