The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says it intends to deny Elcon Recycling Services a permit to treat and store commercial hazardous wastewater, a blow for the company but another victory for Falls Township residents who have been fighting it.
On Wednesday, the DEP told the Israel-based Elcon that its application for a proposed new facility in the township has 18 deficiencies. The notice to deny the permit does not kill the project but is another setback for Elcon in what’s already been a years-long process to build a wastewater processing facility.
A 45-day comment period begins June 1 on the denial, giving both the public and the company a chance to respond. Even if Elcon makes all the corrections, there will be another round of public commenting.
A representative for Elcon could not be reached immediately for comment.
At the end of April, the Falls Township Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to bar the Elcon facility from being built in the town — a saga that has drawn thousands of residents to protest over the last five years. Hundreds attended the tense three-hour meeting and rose to cheer when officials delivered the land-use decision.
Elcon is proposing to build a plant at the Keystone Port Industrial Complex in Fairless Hills. If approved, it would process up to 210,000 tons of chemical liquid waste annually, with up to 20 trucks entering the facility per day.
Elcon officials have said a four-step process would remove and dry out solids and salts from hazardous waste. During the same process, Elcon said, volatile organic compounds — natural or man-made chemicals that can cause myriad health issues if ingested frequently — would be turned into gases and released in the air. Elcon authorities said the emissions would be harmless.
The company bills itself as “an industrial wastewater treatment service provider, addressing the needs of companies with highly polluted aqueous hazardous wastes, mainly in the chemical and pharmaceutical markets.”
As Elcon decides whether to appeal the Board of Supervisors’ decision, it must also decide how to tackle the DEP’s concerns.
The DEP is also reviewing two other Elcon applications for air quality and stormwater. There is no time frame for the DEP to rule on them.
For the hazardous-waste application, Elcon can submit additional information to the DEP to address the deficiencies in its permit. One is as minor as an incorrect telephone number. However, other deficiencies were cited on groundwater monitoring, facility analyses, a clarification on concentration of PCBs it might be handling, and moving a well and radiation screening isolation area from planned locations.
Nearly 4,000 Falls residents and 1,400 people from outside the town have signed petitions against Elcon.