As many in our community are aware, National Gypsum in White Deer Township has contracted with En-Tire Logistics LLC to have a tire incinerator built on their property near Watsontown, Milton, White Deer Elementary School and the Susquehanna River. This facility would burn 100 million pounds of shredded tires per year to provide heat and electricity to National Gypsum's wallboard paper plant. If the community does not rally to stop these plans, the facility will go into operation in 2015.
On Sept. 27 the Department of Environmental Protection approved En-Tire's air-quality permit application despite receiving more than 400 letters, testimonies and signatures opposed to this action. In the last month our group of grass-roots citizens, called The Tire Burner Team, has held townhall meetings, undertaken a petition drive, and met with many individuals and groups to talk with them about the dangers of the tire burner. We are approaching 2,000 signatures to our online (change.org) and printed petitions asking National Gypsum to end their relationship with En-Tire and stop this project.
The Tire Team wants the public to be aware of the following 10 facts:
1. All other tire incinerators like the one proposed for our community have been shut down due to fires, violations, or bankruptcy. Because of that, there are currently no other facilities in the country using 100 percent tire-derived fuel (TDF), as National Gypsum wants to do here. We do not want this kind of failed industry in our community.
2. The location is a disaster waiting to happen. It makes no sense to build a facility with known polluting emissions so close to a river, to children and a concentrated population. The tire burner would be located just one mile from White Deer Elementary School. It would be alongside a particularly important and beautiful stretch of the Susquehanna River. It would be across the river from the people of Milton. The daily emissions and the likelihood of a fire would put our children, our teachers, our neighbors and our river literally in the line of fire.
3. When fires at tire-fuel plants start, they are close to impossible to extinguish. Meanwhile, massive toxins are released into the air. We do not want to risk that catastrophe here, let alone at this location.
4. The companies involved have no reason to be concerned about the impact on our community of this dangerous enterprise. En-Tire, a shell company created by Emanuel Tire, has its headquarters in Texas. Emanuel Tire is based in Baltimore, Md. National Gypsum's headquarters are more than 500 miles away, in Charlotte, N.C. They will be well out of harm's way of the emissions. So should we.
5. En-Tire has said its TDF plant for National Gypsum would only produce 35 jobs. There are other ways to bring jobs into our community that do not pollute and endanger our health. Let's pursue those.
6. There are ways to recycle and reuse tires that do not release their toxins into our air or risk catastrophic fires. Burning tires is the worst way to dispose of them.
7. Despite its claim the tire burner will be "safe," DEP based their decision on studies that are unrelated to 100 percent TDF facilities, outdated, and from the industry-biased Rubber Manufacturer's Association. DEP is simply regulating how much pollution will be going into the air.
8. Even if the proposed plant worked well, DEP admits the tire burner will emit thousands of pounds of chemicals, pollutants and fine particulates into the air each year. These toxins will be detrimental to the lungs of children, the elderly and those with breathing problems.
9. There will be collateral damage from the tire burner, including declining property values, burdens to our communities for emergency response, and pollutants falling into the river and farmers' fields.
10. Research shows that areas like ours are targeted for polluting facilities like this tire incinerator. Companies assume because we are rural, respectful, and grounded in religious values we will simply allow our community to be a dumping ground. But we know those very qualities are what make us strong in protecting our children and our beautiful area.
Winning this fight is going to be hard work. National Gypsum and Emanuel Tire are determined to build this tire incinerator here. We must convince them while we are all for creating jobs, these jobs would come at too great a risk and too high a price for our community. If you agree and want to oppose the tire burner, we hope you will join this effort and let your voice be heard. For more information contact email@example.com or visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/StopTheTireBurner.
n The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, PhD, is the coordinator of The Tire Burner Team.