Allentown environmental group speaks out against waste-to-energy plant project

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“Allentown has no control over any aspect of the operation of the facility, including monitoring, maintenance or problems that may arise if this untried technology fails,” [Julie] Thomases said during a city council meeting tonight.

Thomases argued trash incineration produces more pollution than any other sort of electricity generation and is worse than coal for releases of mercury, lead, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

Thomases also noted that the Lehigh Valley has three landfills — Chrin, IESI and Grand Central. Two have announced plans to expand, she said, and at least one has enough capacity for current levels of waste production for 30 years.

“While this statement deals primarily with the environmental aspects of the project, we feel obliged to state we believe the arrangement between Allentown and DTE will be financially far more costly than continuing the present system,” she said.

The council members who voted for the grants did not speak tonight. Guridy said the issue has already been discussed at length and he is satisfied the environmental concerns have been addressed.

“A lot of these issues were discussed before, and they were dispelled,” Guridy said. “They were simply myths. I’ll leave it at that.”

Eichenwald and O’Connell, however, said they continue to harbor major environmental concerns, and said the plant will have a major impact on multiple generations of the city.

“If you can lay your head on your pillow tonight and say, ‘I don’t believe those risks,’ then do that,” O’Connell said. “But I do believe those risks, and I want to ensure the safety, the health and the welfare of future Allentonians.”

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