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Berks County residents speak out about proposed natural gas plant

Residents speak out about natural gas plant

SOUTH HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. - It was standing room only at the South Heidelberg Township board of supervisors meeting and the main topic of discussion was a 63-acre plot of land.

EmberClear Corporation wants to build a natural gas processing plant that would convert natural gas to gasoline, but hundreds of people were in opposition.

"Where are they going to get all the water? They are building it next to a daycare center, next to two housing developments. It sounds like a pretty dangerous big thing they are just pushing through," said Richard Steffy of South Heidelberg Township.

The township manager tells us EmberClear Corporation chose the location because it is close to both a natural gas supply line and a tank farm where gasoline can be stored.

Although the property has been zoned industrial for the last 30 years, people in the area say they never expected such a large operation to come in.

"I moved into this neighborhood because it is a nice residential area. For this kind of plant to go in, it is going to change the entire integrity of this whole area," said Brian Cutts of South Heidelberg Township.

Other residents are worried about their safety after seeing major explosions in New York and New Jersey.

"They cannot guarantee 100 percent that there is not going to be an incident there and I am concerned about the daycare," said Debbie Chandler of South Heidelberg Township.

Township manager Ronald Seaman says he understands the safety concerns but there are already four major pipelines running underneath the township and major processing plants nearby.

As for the fear of an explosion..."Those were all in cities. I cannot recall in the last year that there has been any such incidents with natural gas plants and it is because they are under such scrutiny 24 hours a day seven days a week by many many agencies, DEP, EPA," said Township Manager Ronald Seaman.

The company will still have to get approval from numerous state and federal agencies before they can come back to the township for final approval.

They hope to begin the three year long construction project next year.

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