Eight of nine people speaking at a public hearing in Conoy Township were critical of the Perdue soybean plant’s plans to offset air pollution.
The $59 million soybean-processing plant is nearing completion and the state Department of Environmental Protection has already issued Perdue Agribusiness its air-quality permit, though that permit has been appealed to the state Environmental Hearing Board.
DEP held the hearing Thursday, July 20, in the Bainbridge Fire Hall on one aspect of the permit that addresses air pollution. Since the air quality in Lancaster County does not meet state or federal standards for soot and smog, businesses can’t worsen the air.
Therefore, Perdue has to “offset” 174 tons of volatile organic compounds that would be emitted each year.
Perdue proposes to do that by purchasing emission reduction credits from two companies that reduced pollution in Pennsylvania and two others in New York state.
Some of those who spoke questioned if air improved in New York would help air quality in Lancaster County.
About 50 people were in attendance, including many from Hellam Township across the river in York County, where there has been strong resistance to the plant because of air concerns.
Other speakers said DEP should require Perdue to purchase equipment known as thermal oxidizers that would reduce hexane emissions.
Neither Perdue nor the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, which sold Perdue land along the Susquehanna River and is providing steam and water, spoke at the hearing.
The lone supporter who spoke was Stephen Mohr, who represented the Conoy Township supervisors. Mohr said DEP has experts who were qualified to vet Perdue’s plans and yet they gave them a permit.
Mohr repeated Perdue’s stance that the facility would be the most environmentally friendly soybean plant in the country, using steam from the neighboring waste-to-energy incinerator to power the plant and sewage wastewater from Elizabethtown for the soybean-drying process.
DEP did not say when it would rule on Perdue’s pollution credits plan. Perdue cannot begin processing soybeans at the plant until it has an approved emissions reduction plan, a DEP spokesman said.