I can’t find any press yet about yesterday’s Solid Waste Authority Hearing on the Covanta Incinerator in Chester. About 200 people signed on for the zoom meeting – which must be some kind of record for the county’s Solid Waste Authority. Members of the authority gave introductory remarks about the procedure for renewing the county’s waste contract with Covanta. First, Covanta has to propose a contract renewal, and then the county has to respond to that proposal. In the past renewals have usually been every 4-5 years. Christine Reuther remarked that the county is working on a larger waste plan due in 2023, which I think she said is required every 10 years. Other remarks covered the expected approval of the county’s current landfill in Berk’s County.
One of the details that struck me is that the contract allows the county to ship a certain tonnage of waste to the incinerator for some amount of money per ton. But then the contract allows the incinerator to ship more ash tonnage than the waste amount for a lower rate per ton. If the county cut the contract and shipped all its waste to the landfill it would result in less waste getting shipped to that landfill, cost the county less and be less toxic. I’m puzzled as to how this contract benefits the county because it seems like a sweet deal for Covanta.
The authority reserved the bulk of the meeting to allow public comments and said there would both be further hearings and comments could also be emailed to the Solid Waste Authority. I had to leave a little before the 5 pm cutoff of the meeting, but every comment I heard was in opposition to renewing the contract. The first commenter was from Moore Rd. here in Nether Providence. Swarthmore was notably over-represented among the commenters, though there were also many from Chester. Comments discussed the environmental impact of the incinerator, the health effects residents personally have suffered since moving here, the racial injustice of the incinerator, and the opacity of the Solid Waste Authority itself. While the meeting was apparently advertised in the DelCo Times, there was no evidence of it I could find online outside of activist groups.