Assistant News Editor
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has approved the air quality plan for the construction of a tire incinerator to be located 10 miles from the University campus on Sept. 27.
National Gypsum Company, located in White Deer Township, and En-Tire Logistics LLC, a subsidiary of the Emmanuel Tire Company headquartered in Baltimore, Md., will construct the project. The proposed plant would generate about seven megawatts of electricity.
National Gypsum will consume most of the electricity generated by the incinerator. The balance will go to the Pennsylvania Power & Light grid.
“It should not have any more impact than burning coal or something else–probably less,” Norman Emmanuel, CEO of Emmanuel Tires, said.
Only one other facility like this is operational in the United States today, Associate Professor of English Alf Siewers said.
A group of 160 University faculty members signed a statement, dated Sept. 6, 2013, expressing their opposition to the construction of the tire incinerator. Siewers wrote the statement along with Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Kevin Gilmore and Associate Professor of Geography Duane Griffin.
“Studies have shown that tire-derived fuel (TDF) incinerators release toxic chemicals into the air,” the statement said.
Other faculty members who signed the statement include Dean of the College of Engineering Keith Buffinton, Department Chair of History David Del Testa, Department Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering Thomas DiStefano, Department Chair of Political Science Andrea Stevenson Sanjian, Department Chair of English Ghislaine McDayter, Director of the Campus Greening Initiative Dina El-Mogazi, and Department Chair of Mathematics Tom Cassidy.
“These were faculty members supporting the opposition to the tire burner,” Siewers said, and not a position taken by the University.
Several members of the local community have also expressed concerns about the possible environmental impact of the proposed incinerator.
“It is one mile exactly from the entrance of the plant to the entrance of White Deer Elementary,” Pete Mackey, a resident of White Deer Township, said.
Emmanuel said that he sees no risk in the incinerator’s proximity to the elementary school saying he would have “no problem” with an incinerator being built near his children’s school.
“We are not doing something to harm people; money is not worth that,” Emmanuel said.
“They want to burn 100 million pounds of shredded tires per year. They are not burning or storing whole tires. Their plan is to truck in 18 wheelers everyday of shredded tires and burn the shredded tire,” Mackey said.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency and American Lung Association of Pennsylvania have already issued letters expressing concern about the now approved air quality proposal.
A petition on Change.org, entitled “National Gypsum: Keep your ETL tire incinerator out of our community,” currently has approximately 350 signatures. There is also a Facebook page called “Stop the Tire Burner.”
Residents of White Deer Township will be able to appeal the DEP decision by Oct. 25, Mackey said.
On Oct. 16, Siewers and Visiting Assistant Professor of History Jennifer Thomson will organize a group of faculty and staff to oppose the tire burner.
“We hope to reach out to the environmental club to see if there is student interest,” Siewers said.