ALLENWOOD - Citing public outcry and the plummeting price of natural gas, National Gypsum Co. has canceled its agreement with En-Tire Logistics of Milton Pa. LLC to build a tire burning facility in White Deer Township.
"Since the En-Tire project was first proposed, the price of natural gas has fallen significantly. The savings National Gypsum had hoped to realize by purchasing steam and electricity from the En-Tire project are no longer applicable," the company said.
National Gypsum, which recycles paper for use in wallboard, will continue to use natural gas to power its operations, according to the company.
After appeals by citizens and White Deer Township to the Environmental Hearing Board, En-Tire asked the Department of Environmental Protection to terminate its air quality permit plan approval "due to business reasons" including loss of site control, according to En-Tire CEO Willess Vincent.
"En-Tire does intend to develop the project at an alternative site, once site control is secured," Vincent told DEP.
Vincent did not indicate where the alternative site might be located.
"It took a lot of pressure off White Deer Township when National Gypsum and En-Tire decided not to go through with the project," White Deer Township Supervisor Carroll Diefenbach said. "I was fielding phone calls almost on a daily basis and we had letters sent to our home addresses concerning the burner."
The En-Tire plant originally was going to cost $12 million to build but after factoring in emissions control technology the price skyrocketed to around $50 million, Diefenbach said.
"Although National Gypsum firmly believes the En-Tire project is environmentally sound and would have provided good-paying jobs, the company also has heard and considered the objections of the White Deer community," the company said.
The facility would have employed between 30 to 40 people, according to Diefenbach.
"It's a concern to lose that many jobs in the area but I think you have to weigh in people's health, too," Diefenbach said. "Our main concern was for the health and safety of our citizens."
Many area residents breathed a sigh of relief after the tire burner project was canceled, according to the Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, pastor of United In Christ Lutheran Church. Schade helped to organize protests against the tire burner.
"I personally am saying a prayer of thanks," Schade said.
Carcinogenic emissions were among the chief environmental concerns, especially as the plant was situated less than 2 miles from White Deer Elementary School, according to Schade.
"We are very relieved that this dangerous and risky tire burner will not be threatening the health of children and the citizens of White Deer Township and surrounding region," Schade said. "We are really grateful to National Gypsum for doing the right thing."