ALLENWOOD - One by one they spoke out Thursday night against operations they fear will emit pollutants and cause health problems for people in White Deer Township and the surrounding area.
En-Tire Logistics, Milton, already has received approval to construct a plant to use natural gas-fired steam and power from burning tires to produce electricity for NGC Industries, a nearby company.
And that's what fired up many people during the state Department of Environmental Protection public hearing attended by more than 100 people at the Warrior Run Fire Department.
Mostly, they questioned the possible harmful effects of emissions from burning tires.
"We're asking DEP to rescind approval of the permit," said Rev. Leah Schade, pastor of United Church in Christ, Lewisburg.
Schade was one of dozens of people speaking out against the plant.
However, DEP and En-Tire officials assured the audience that any emissions will be well within compliance.
"Emissions from the combustion unit are proposed to be controlled by a dry scrubber, fabric collector, oxidation catalyst, selective catalytic reduction, and a wet scrubber," explained DEP Air Quality Manager Muhammad Zaman.
He said DEP determined that the company's "proposed levels of air contaminants emissions satisfy best available control technology as well as the department's best available technology requirements."
In addition, En-Tire performed testing known as inhalation risk assessment, which covered 35 compounds of potential concern. That testing, officials noted, concluded that levels of risk posed by chronic and acute exposure to those compounds do not exceed the DEP inhalation risk assessment benchmarks.
Few people seemed satisfied with that or other explanations given by the DEP and company officials.
"Why should I sit idly by and get cancer while these people make money," screamed Dave Jacobson, Lewisburg.
He demanded to know what other compounds not reviewed could be emitted from the plant.
He was told the predominant compounds considered did not exceed the inhalation risk.
Pat Parker, of Lewisburg, questioned if the plant would emit an aroma.
Ray Rakiewiewicz, senior consultant with ALL4, an air quality consulting firm, assured her that would not be an issue.
Sue Laidacker, of Danville, said her concern was that tires are petroleum based and therefore fossil fuels.
"You have to understand why people in this community are opposed to this," said Clyde Peeling, owner of Clyde Peeling's Reptiland, just north of Allenwood.
He said area citizens have previously fought corporations and local governments when other projects posing health concerns were either successfully or unsuccessfully located in their backyards.
The Lycoming County Landfill along Route 15, he noted, came about after initial behind-the-scenes planning by government officials. Now, area residents must endure the foul odors it emits.
He also cited the proposal to locate a hazardous waste incinerator a number of years ago, a plan that citizens fought hard to defeat.
Zaman made it clear that the En-Tire facility is not a hazardous waste incinerator.
Schade and other citizens noted that the En-Tire's operations would be within about a mile of White Deer Elementary School, an assisted living home and the Susquehanna River.
"Why can't we generate energy without burning something?" asked Lana Gulden, Northumberland.
Dr. Mary Russin said she could not say how "disheartening" it is to see the air become polluted.
She noted that Pennsylvania already has some of the highest rates of cancer.
Melinda Bowersox, of Con-way Freight Inc., New Columbia said her company employees will be subject to emissions from En-Tire.
"We cannot provide them fresh air to breathe," she said.
Barb Jarmoska, of Montoursville, listed a whole host of illnesses and health problems that have risen over the years.
She questioned why a company would now choose to burn tires containing all sorts of toxic chemicals.
"As a nation, our health is in crisis," she said.
Michael Blumenthal, who has managed two such operations in other parts of the nation, was perhaps the lone voice not speaking out against En-Tire's plans.
"This meeting is going according to script," he said. "We do know what the air emissions are. You can't assume there are dioxins."
Company officials noted that the operations will employ 25 to 30 permanent jobs, in addition to more than 100 construction jobs needed to build the plant.
Written comments from the public will be accepted by DEP until May 13 and may be sent to Muhammad Zaman, DEP Air Quality Program Manager, 208 W. Third St., Suite 101, Williamsport, Pa. 17701.