The Falls Township Board of Supervisors has voted 5 to 0 to reject a proposal from Elcon Recycling Services, LLC for the construction of a toxic waste facility on the Delaware River. Video of the final vote is available here.
An estimated 550 people came out Tuesday night to the highly anticipated Falls Township public meeting on Elcon. The controversial toxic waste facility proposal has mobilized thousands of residents since it was first proposed five years ago.
With such a large expected outpouring of residents, the Falls Township Board of Supervisors moved its monthly meeting to Pennsbury High School West’s Keller Hall.
When the seats were almost full, people stood in the back of the auditorium. And once standing room filled up and doors had closed, an overflow crowd of roughly two dozen people waited in the halls outside.
The evening began at 7 p.m. when Supervisor Chairman Bob Harvie introduced Kimberly Freimuth, a lawyer with Fox Rothschild LLP, who presented a Power Point on Elcon’s behalf. Each slide included information on different steps the recycling company has taken to ensure safety.
Notably, Freimuth claimed spill models showed any emergency situations would have no impact on drinking water in the Delaware River. Additionally, another representative for Elcon stated they provided roughly a dozen safety measures on top of what Falls Township and the PA DEP requires.
After an hour of presentation and questioning, the meeting moved to public comment. Dozens of residents from Falls Township, Newtown, and even several New Jersey residents spoke during the next two hours, decrying Elcon.
One woman presented the Board of Supervisors with three binders. They contained the signed petitions of more than 4,000 residents.
By 9:50 p.m., it was time to vote. The decision was quick and unanimous.
“At the end of the day, the residents elected us to do a job,” Supervisor Jeff Boraski said. “We have received multiple emails and phone communications, spoken with residents and the public, and I think at this point the Supervisors have spoken. We’re hoping to put an end to Elcon.”
“Given how long this project has been on the radar, given all the information we’ve gathered over the last couple years,” Harvie said. “I think all of us had our minds made up. Elcon didn’t present anything that changed our view of the deficiencies, especially when it came to fire protection and not abiding by the subdivisional land development ordinance.”
But not everyone is satisfied.
Bernard Griggs Jr., a representative with the Building & Construction Trades Council Philadelphia, is not happy with the decision. The organization represents all the building trade unions for the Philadelphia five county area, including 50 unions and 80,000 members.
Griggs says the council has an agreement with Elcon to build the facility with 100 percent union labor, with people living in the local community. Estimates indicate the plant would create 60 to 70 jobs in Falls Township.
“The problem is people aren’t looking at the facts, and every fact check we’ve done has proven time and time the project would be built safely,” Griggs said. “It would be a safe process in which they’re going to treat the hazardous waste water. From our perspective, we don’t see any reason whatsoever that it’s going to be harmful to the community, or the environment for that matter.”
Additionally, the PA Department of Environmental Protection has not yet made its decision. Harvie noted he hopes the agency takes their decision into consideration, but they have no obligation to do so.