Meadville Tribune

Local News

October 18, 2010

Site of proposed tires-to-energy plant has plenty of water

MEADVILLE — If approved by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and implemented by Crawford Renewable Energy LLC, Meadville Power Station would use tire-derived fuel to generate 90 megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 75,000 homes, from an 80-acre site in Greenwood Township’s Keystone Regional Industrial Park. The project is now in the early stages of the permit process. Copies of the application are available for public review on a first-come-first-serve basis at Meadville Public Library and by appointment at DEP’s Northwest Regional Office, 230 Chestnut St., Meadville. Call DEP at 332-6340 to schedule an appointment.

If there’s one thing Greenwood Township’s Keystone Regional Industrial Park has plenty of, it’s water.

Although concerns have been expressed by some area residents about the availability of sufficient water to fill the anticipated needs of the proposed Meadville Power Station, an extremely ample water supply was one of the things that attracted the attention of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when they went out looking for a place to manufacture the high explosive known as TNT during the lead-up to World War II, according to a local water expert.

“They decided to put Keystone Ordnance Works (in Greenwood Township) in the first place because they needed a lot of water — approximately 20 million gallons per day — and they estimated that the glacial aquifer was capable of supplying at least 30 million gallons per day.” No decimals have been misplaced. Thirty million gallons. Per day.

That’s according to Bill Gough, senior geologist with Moody & Associates Inc., who’s looked into the subject extensively.

Left behind by glaciers that covered the area during a long-ago Ice Age, the aquifer itself extends roughly from Conneaut Lake to south of Cochranton, in the general area of the Geneva Marsh.

“When the glaciers retreated back to Canada and melted, they left behind lots of sand and gravel,” Gough explained, noting with a touch of local pride that the really prolific aquifers are composed of sand and gravel.

“The glaciers didn’t extend much beyond Franklin, but rivers carried the deposits down the waterways,” he added. “They’re found along the Ohio River as far south as Cincinnati.”

When Keystone Ordnance Works was in the planning stages, the U.S. Geological Survey sent experts to the area to determine how and where the wells should be drilled.

Two of the 17 wells drilled to supply the 20 million gallons required back in the day are being reactivated to supply the water needs of the proposed Meadville Power Plant, a $337 million facility that would generate electricity using tire-derived fuel. The wells are being reactivated at a cost of $2.5 million by Economic Progress Alliance, the organization that purchased 1,400 acres of the former 14,000-plus acre Keystone Ordnance Works reservation from local businessman Larry Kebert in two parts in 1999 and 2000 to develop Keystone Regional Industrial Park.

The power plant would be the park’s first tenant. CRE has entered into an agreement to purchase the land from HNI Corporation, formerly known as HON Industries, which purchased the 80-acre tract from the alliance for $800,000 in January 2001.

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