Note: Much of this material was originally posted as a call to action regarding the City of Allentown’s proposal to contract with Delta Thermo Energy to build a ‘Waste to energy’ plant in downtown Allentown. That proposal was approved and a contract signed; it will now have to proceed to obtain needed permits from DEP.
The environmental and public health risks are substantial. Originally defeated only 2 weeks ago, the plan was brought up for reconsideration as a result of strong pressure from construction workers and the City administration.Families with children and women of child-bearing age should be especially concerned, whether you live in Allentown, Bethlehem, or other nearby towns!
Here are two excerpts from the Sierra Club’s letter to City Council:
“Committing to this large-scale, costly project would lock the city into an outmoded 20th century waste management system (burning trash and combustion-based electricity generation) with an unproven, unconventional and inflexible technology. The list of reasons NOT to invest in this plan in the 21st century overwhelms any alleged benefits that it might deliver.
… “Waste is not fuel. The mix of materials input is released in the output. Where will all the inputs from the waste mixture of municipal solid waste (everything we throw away) and sewage sludge (with all its contaminants–toxic heavy metals, radioactive isotopes, chemical wastes, etc.) end up? In the air, the water, or the ash? Everything has to go somewhere; elements can’t be broken down.”
These are ‘environmental’ concerns, but they are really about you and your health! Remember, we’re not just talking about visible pollution, but invisible pollution that will affect your health and that of your children and your children’s children. Despite all the politicians’ posturing, this plan is reckless and irresponsible! — but I suppose the current crop of politicians know they will be long gone by the time the damage is proven.
Environmental Justice problems – The specified site in downtown Allentown raises environmental justice issues because of its proximity to lower-income neighborhoods and because waste incineration, by definition, poses a variety of serious environmental hazards.
A 35-year contract is absurd. I am not an attorney, but the terms of the agreement seem designed to protect DTE and not the City:
- The City will be locked in even after the flaws become evident;
- Requiring liability coverage of $5-million is a joke, because damages will be in the tens or hundreds of millions;
- Delta Thermal, the developer, is not in breach of contract—even if it violates existing environmental standards—if the violation would take more than 15 days to correct and they are ‘taking action to remedy the problem’, including investigating it on their own;
- Problems with newly-identified hazardous emissions — no matter how many people are harmed — apparently will not constitute default unless and until the state regulates them.
We urge you to oppose this dangerous plan:
- Review the documents from the City and from interested parties
- Voice your concern to Council members and City officials, [Contact information below] Remember, they are being pressured by people who see jobs and tax benefits, so you may have to help them see that’s no excuse for endangering people’s health.
We do not have any environmental review or health impacts assessment; as far as we know, they have not been done.
We have a number of documents that can help you understand the plan.