Covanta increases transparency to allay residents’ concerns
CHESTER, P.A. – Covanta is pleased to announce that continuous emissions monitoring data for the Delaware Valley Waste-to-Energy facility is now available to the public on the company’s website 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This data is the same information monitored by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and required by the facility’s air permit to ensure its adherence to the Commonwealth’s stringent environmental regulations. It is also used by operators onsite at the facility to track emissions, anticipate potential issues and resolve them to ensure compliance.
“We care deeply about the Chester community and understand some residents have raised concerns about the facility,” said Derek Veenhof, Covanta’s chief operating officer. “We want residents to know we’ve heard them and in taking this step, we are demonstrating our commitment to changing the status quo. Chester is an environmental justice community and as an industrial operator in the community, we take our responsibility for minimizing the impacts of our operation seriously. Our work to reduce emissions and overall environmental impacts is never-ending.”
A combination of continuous emissions monitoring and annual stack testing are important tools used to determine a waste-to-energy facility’s compliance with the emission limits set forth in its operating permit established in accordance with the Clean Air Act and state regulatory requirements. The continuous emissions monitoring equipment at the Delaware Valley Waste-to-Energy facility monitors for opacity (a measure of particulate matter) and gaseous compounds such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides. The facility’s operators also continuously measure the amount of steam produced, as well as ensure the consistent high temperature (approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) required for full combustion is achieved by maintaining proper oxygen and carbon monoxide levels.
The facility’s air permit stipulates compliance periods of 6 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours, 4 hours and daily averages. There are literally hundreds of thousands of compliance periods per year that the facility must comply with. If levels go beyond certain limits for a specified duration, they must be reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
“We hope by making this additional monitoring information available, we demystify our operations. Make no mistake, these numbers are the very same ones we see and use to run the plant,” added Heather Needham, the Covanta Delaware Valley facility manager. “This means residents will see the data when the facility is performing normally and in the very rare instances when it is not. We are doing this not because we are required to, but because it’s the right thing to do–and we are committed to doing more.”
“I appreciate Covanta’s efforts to increase transparency around the operation of their facility,” said Chester City Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland. “Covanta has been both a good neighbor and a good partner to Chester. They have been, and continue to be, a part of our community for the long haul, serving the waste disposal needs of our community and many other communities, and is the preferred alternative to landfills, while providing important economic benefits to our city and the larger region.”
Since taking ownership of the Delaware Valley Waste-to-Energy facility in 2005, Covanta has continued to make regular improvements that allow the plant to operate up to 99% below its federally regulated standards for emissions–vastly improving its performance since the facility was first constructed in 1991. The facility converts up to 3,500 tons of municipal solid waste per day into 80 megawatts of electricity-enough to power 70,000 homes continuously. The facility also recycles more than 50,000 tons of metal annually.