The meeting was held on Wednesday, October 19th, at a building owned by Jason Weisz. The following two Delta Thermo Energy (DTE) Inc. representatives conducted the meeting: Robert Van Naarden, who is the CEO and founder; and Zane Crowley, who is the vice president of operations.
Van Naarden and Crowley focused on the waste-to-fuel process and its impact on the area. Van Naarden explained that a chemical process would make fuel out of sludge and waste. The fuel could be sold to power plants that currently use coal. The plant uses a hydrothermal decomposition process through a combination of physics and chemistry. High pressure and steam break the waste down, and the result is crushed fuel.
According to Van Naarden, five hydrothermal decomposition units would be located on Sherman Street at what used to be the Sprout Waldron building. After the plant is completely functional, it should generate 2,600 tons of pulverized fuel each day. In addition, approximately fifty jobs will be created.
Not everyone likes the idea of the waste-to-fuel plant, which used to be known as a waste-to-energy plant. A citizens’ group which is against the waste-to-fuel plant attended the meeting. However, the group did not stay for the whole meeting. People who do not want the plant built are worried about toxic emissions affecting the air quality and the fact that the building is in a flood plain. Residents noted that the plant is just blocks away from two schools.
Van Naarden responded to concerned citizens by saying, “There will be no emissions, because we’re not burning anything.” Weisz later said, “There will never be an incinerator in this building.” Regarding the building being in a flood plain, Weisz said DTE is already planning on making the building resistant to flooding.
Even though Van Naarden and Weisz addressed residents’ concerns, some residents made it clear they did not want the waste-to-fuel plant in their town. One person yelled, “We’re against your process in our town.” A 6th grader asked, “How can you guarantee my health and safety for my future?” One person asked, “If you don’t live here, how can you invite people in?” Weisz answered the question by saying, “I bought the building and I probably pay more taxes than you.”
Van Naarden said the waste-to-fuel plant would be a good thing for the region. He said, “This is a sustainable and beneficial thing for the community, and you don’t want it here.” Two people, Susan Styer and Rebecca Noviello, agreed with Van Naarden’s view. However, they do not live in the borough. Styer has a farm in the borough.