Meadville Tribune

Local News

October 24, 2011

Tires-to-energy plant cleared for construction

MEADVILLE — Fourteen months after the first application was filed, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has given the go-ahead to Crawford Renewable Energy to proceed with plans to construct a $350 million tire-derived-fuel-fired power plant in Greenwood Township’s Keystone Regional Industrial Park.

The proposed plant will use circulating fluidized bed boiler technology to generate up to 90 megawatts of electrical power, enough to serve approximately 75,000 homes.

This marks a major step forward in the lengthy process of obtaining an air quality permit for the proposed facility.

While the permit itself will not be issued by DEP until the plant is built and operating, Monday’s issuance of the draft air plan approval, which details conditions CRE must follow during the construction and startup process to ensure compliance with DEP regulations, allows the pre-construction engineering phase of the project to begin.

In addition to the air plan approval, DEP also issued permits and authorizations covering other aspects of the project, including tire processing and storage, erosion and sedimentation control during and after construction, wetlands encroachment and industrial wastewater disposal. “They have all been issued today,” DEP spokesperson Freda Tarbell said Monday, noting that no other CRE applications are currently pending with the department.

CRE Project Manager Greg Rubino said Monday that the issuance of the air permit allows CRE to kick off several months of pre-construction activities. Once the engineering portion of the process is complete, approximately 24 months of what he described as “let’s go get ’em” construction will follow.

“Now we can really get down to digging in,” Rubino said, noting that his in-box is already filled every morning with resumes from job-seekers from northwestern Pennsylvania “with outstanding credentials.”

Now that the first phase of the air quality permit process is complete and things are beginning to proceed, Rubino said that he plans to keep the public — especially prospective employees — informed about progress on the project.

Although DEP has given the project a go-ahead, Scott Hricsina, spokesperson for Crawford Area Residents for the Environment, remains unconvinced. The group formed specifically to fight the proposed plant shortly after plans to develop the site were announced in April 2010. “A permit issued by the Pa. DEP for the proposed tire incinerator does not change the fact that it would emit tons of hazardous air pollution into our air, exposing the community to some of the most toxic substances known to exist,” Hricsina said Monday in a written statement. “CARE will continue to promote our health and safety by supporting clean energy solutions over polluting incinerators.”

On June 25, DEP published a notice of intent to issue the plan approval. During a public hearing on the project in late July at Conneaut Lake High School, DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch, the region’s top environmental regulator, expressed his belief that the facility “will be the most carefully-monitored facility in northwestern Pennsylvania.”

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at mspicer@meadvilletribune.com.

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