In response to the recent article from The Guardian article by Oliver Milman, “'Moment of reckoning': US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports,” Covanta wants to make clear that our facility in Chester, PA operates in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment. Processing of recyclable material at the Delaware Valley Energy-from-Waste facility has not impacted environmental performance and our ability to comply with our strict air permits. We strongly believe that source separated material should be recycled and look forward to seeing reestablished recycling programs in the near future.
Covanta has been and continues to be committed to being a good neighbor to Chester. That commitment has never wavered and we are disheartened to see so many fallacies perpetuated in a recent article in The Guardian.
We care about the communities where we operate and have voluntarily gone well beyond already strict emissions limits to ensure the safety of the communities in which our employees live and work. After passing through our state-of-the-art emissions control system, over 99.9% of what comes out of the stack is what you’d typically find in air - water vapor, nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. The remaining emitted constituents– see table below – are well below allowable limits set by State and Federal regulators that have demonstrated protection of human health and the environment
Processing of recyclable material at the Delaware Valley facility has not impacted environmental performance and our ability to comply with our strict air permits. In fact, there has always been unrecyclable plastic material in the waste stream and the facility has been able to safely process that material for energy recovery. However, we strongly believe that source separated material should be recycled and look forward to seeing reestablished recycling programs in the near future.
Unfortunately, The Guardian article quotes advocates with an agenda and does not validate or provide any contextual information on overall health issues in the City of Chester and the major contributing health risks to those health issues. The article also references a study from 1995 that did not use the actual emissions measurements of the facility but “projected” data. Nonetheless, in that very same study, the facility, under a different company’s ownership at the time, was not listed among those found to be contributing to long-term cancer risks. Study after study have shown that living near an Energy-from-Waste facility does not have adverse impacts on health.
Third-Party Health Studies
Covanta Delaware Valley Emissions in Comparison to Permit Limits
Since becoming the operator of the Delaware Valley facility we have supported a range of programs in Chester – everything from providing students healthy breakfasts, establishing apprenticeship programs for local residents, contributing to community beautification through the recent founding of Keep Chester Beautiful, and even supporting diabetes education and screening. We also provide a significant source of revenue to the City that helps ensure the continuation of essential services