By Mary Spicer
After a delay of almost two years, a challenge to the air quality plan approval issued by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been withdrawn and plans to build a $360 million tires-to-energy facility in Crawford County’s Greenwood Township are back on track.
The challenge, filed by Pittsburgh resident Bob Concilus, who maintains a part-time residence in Union Township, and Leah Humes, who resides in Crawford County just south of Edinboro, included a list of 16 legal objections to various aspects of the approval.
Concilus was not immediately available for comment and Humes declined to comment before consulting with Concilus; however, the terms of the settlement have been made available on the website of Crawford Area Residents for the Environment, a group that has opposed the project from the beginning and supported the filing of the challenge. According to project developer Greg Rubino of Crawford Renewable Energy, an accurate report of the settlement is shown on stopburningtires.com.
Under the terms of the settlement, the developer will consult with a consultant selected by Concilus and Humes regarding the use of filtration products before selecting a specific product for the control of particulate matter and will use bags rated with a high removal efficiency. Upon submission of stack testing protocols to DEP, CRE will provide Concilus and Humes with copies of all protocols and give them a 30-day period to submit comments.
Upon submission to DEP, CRE will provide copies of specified testing results and monitoring as well as correspondence or reports regarding upset conditions or permit violations occurring at the facility to Concilus and Humes. CRE will also contribute $35,000 to a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of Concilus and Humes’ choice to be used only for one or a combination of uses including purchasing, installing, operating and maintaining an air quality monitoring device; performing pre- and post-operational ambient air quality monitoring at a location of their choice; and/or performing water quality testing in the watershed surrounding the facility.
Crawford Renewable Energy, a company formed as a joint venture between Conservation Development Associates LLC of Erie and Caletta Renewable Energy LLC of Boston filed an application with Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection for air quality plan approval for the facility in August 2010.
Conservation Development Associates is an Erie business owned by the families of Rubino, an Erie-based developer, and Owen McCormick of Joseph McCormick Construction of Erie.
Designed to produce approximately 900 megawatts of electricity, the plant is expected to produce approximately 665,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually — the energy equivalent of more than 1 million barrels of oil — providing enough power to serve approximately 45,000 homes.
The energy source will be tire-derived fuel, obtained by the on-site processing of approximately 800 to 900 tons of waste tires per day into chips to be fed into the plant’s circulating fluidized bed combustion system. CFB systems suspend fuel in a mixture of superheated air and sand; steps such as adding limestone and controlling temperatures are taken to capture sulfur and reduce the formation of nitrogen oxides.
Upon issuance of the plan approval by DEP, Concilus and Humes filed an appeal to the Environmental Hearing Board in November 2011.
On Aug. 28, Concilus and Humes agreed to settle their objections and withdraw their appeal; the following day, the Environmental Hearing Board ordered the docket to be marked closed and discontinued and canceled the hearing scheduled for Oct. 9.
“I plan to finish my project,” Rubino said Friday afternoon, noting that even with great weather and perfect luck, this is still a 2-year construction project.
“We’ve had great community support by and large,” he continued. “There are always folks who have a different opinion and this is America, so that’s their right. Overall, we’ve had a great reception.”
The most surprising part of the project, Rubino added, is the number of emails he receives every day asking how the sender can get a job at the plant. “As a Realtor, I don’t always see those kind of things,” Rubino said. “Some of the resumes we’ve been getting are just fabulous. A lot of highly-qualified people are looking for jobs.”
Work is already under way on stormwater control at the site, which occupies 80 acres in Economic Progress Alliance’s Keystone Regional Industrial Park. The basin required under the facility’s erosion and sedimentation control plan, for example, is already in place.
“Now we’re dealing with a very small wetland that we had to relocate on the site,” Rubino said. “We’re moving it from one location to another — it’s a painstaking process, done all be hand.”
Future progress depends on how fast the environmental contractor completes the wetland work — and how the weather cooperates.
“(The appeal) stretched us right to the edge of the construction season and now winter is upon us,” Rubino said. “We’ve been on hold because we couldn’t move forward while this appeal was under way — even though we’d always been confident in our science and technology. Now we’re back at it full speed, doing the work that needs to be done to put all the financing in place.”
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.