Elcon was the popular topic of discussion during Tuesday night’s Falls Township Board of Supervisors meeting. The Public Meeting Hall was filled to the brim with people opposed to the toxic waste facility.
Chairman Bob Harvie took on the task of trying to answer some questions, but people didn’t seem pleased with the answers. He explained why the Board of Supervisors was looking at the Elcon proposal at all.
“The township does not have the luxury of just deciding which plans it wants to look at and which plans it does not. We have a timeline,” Harvie said before attendees interrupted.
“You’re in favor of this!” one resident yelled out.
“If for example we chose not to do anything on this and just sat on it, like a filibuster,” Harvie continued. “If that timeline expired, the project would be deemed approved and they could do whatever they wanted to. Obviously that’s not an option I think anyone in here wants us to think about.”
Harvie also addressed the option of Falls Township passing its own clean air ordinance. If passed, supporters say it would prevent any facility from polluting over a certain amount, effectively banning Elcon.
“We had a copy of the clean air ordinance forwarded to us several months ago. Our attorney and his firm took a look several times at this issue and had discussions with other attorneys,” Harvie said. “This is not a decision people are going to like to hear, but we do not have the ability to pass a clean air ordinance.”
“Why not?” members of the audience interjected. Another resident claiming to have written a similar ordinance tried to speak, but Harvie banged the gavel to bring back order.
After the meeting, a large group of dissenters collected outside with Mike Ewall of the Energy Justice Network at the center. He said the supervisors had it well within their power to pass such an ordinance.
“The logic that they’re twisting to be able to give you the misinformation you’re getting in this room ties into what Philadelphia and Allegheny County can do that other places can’t do, which is take over DEP’s job,” Ewall said. “We’re not trying to do that.”
About ten residents spoke during the public comment period, with many more who did not make it into the 45 minutes allotted. One resident named Sandra made an impassioned speech.
“There is no amount of jobs, short term or long term that will justify bringing Elcon to our community,” she said. “So we call on you now to save us from this catastrophe. Please do whatever you can, as soon as you can, to restore the certainty that our lives and our families are safe in Falls Township.”
One resident accused Elcon of starting out small with the intention of pushing regulations in the future. Another claimed the zoning board was not being transparent with the township.
Harvie announced a Falls Township public meeting will be held April 30th but details are still in the works.