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Waste to energy plant approved for Allentown

Published On: May 16 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: May 17 2012 05:02:53 PM CDT

A controversial trash-to-electricity plant is a go for the city of Allentown.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A controversial trash-to-electricity plant is a go for the city of Allentown.

City Council voted Wednesday night to approve the plan for a plant to be built by Delta Thermo Energy of New Jersey, next to Allentown's waste water treatment plant on Kline's Island.

Allentown's mayor said the city brings in 20,000 tons of garbage each day from out of state to three landfills in Northampton County.

According to Mayor Ed Pawlowski, that landfill space is diminishing at a rapid rate.

"All the landfills in New York are filled. They've been pushing all their garbage, 20,000 tons a day, to Pennsylvania," said Pawlowski. "Their landfills are getting capped up quickly."

The mayor also said the plant would save the city $20 million to $40 million over the next 30 years.

"It's fixed costs of disposal," said Pawlowski. "Costs are increasing at 2% to 4 % each year. We are reducing costs, providing less fuel by not using trucks. We'll get energy credits from the energy at a fixed rate for years."

But critics worry about the environmental impact.

Julie Thomases, with the Allentown Environmental Advisory Council, advises the city about environmental issues.

"Trash incineration is the largest source of dioxin pollution, which is most toxic and can't be destroyed, and we don't want that going in to smoke stacks and into our water we are really concerned about our citizens," said Thomases.

"We've seen the processes at work already in other parts of the U.S., and there's very little dioxins that are produced. This is a fear that's unfounded," said Pawlowski.

Work to build the plant could start within the next six months, and the plant could be operational by 2015.