Chester shelves plan to store N.Y. garbage for burning

A proposal to build a 15,000-square-foot facility at the Chester incinerator plant to house garbage imported by rail from New York City has been put on the shelf.

After some residents raised questions, the Chester City Planning Commission tabled a vote on the plan for 30 days.

The commission had been expected to approve permits Wednesday night for the Covanta Energy proposal, but 12 protesters showed up at the meeting asking for a review of the project.

Covanta, which has 100 employees in Chester, has operated the trash incinerator on Highland Avenue since 1992. It wants to construct a storage building for the unloading of boxes of New York household garbage trucked in from a Wilmington rail yard.

Zero-waste plans

Chester City Planner Wayne Payne referred all calls to the mayor's office, which did not respond to questions.

"We don't want them building a transfer station that can outlast the incinerator," said Mike Ewall of Energy Justice Network.

"New York City needs to deal with its waste," he said, adding that communities needed to develop zero-waste plans.

Covanta officials said that, under its plan, the amount of waste would not change. "All the environmental parameters remain the same," said John G. Waffenschmidt, vice president of environmental science and community affairs.

Approvals pending

The company hopes to get the permits approved in August, he said. It then would need approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Covanta has a contract to dispose of 800,000 tons of waste, split between the Chester facility and another in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

"The incinerator has become an integral part of our society in the city," said Horace Strand, an environmental activist who formed the Chester Environmental Partnership, a watchdog group. He said Covanta brought in about $6 million in tax revenue and contributes to community programs in Chester.

He said he did not see any problems with the plan, adding, "The containers look to be very secure."

610-313-8111 @MariSchaefer