Plans for natural gas plant raise concerns among neighbors

Plans for natural gas plant raise concerns among neighbors

SOUTH HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. - Big plans are in store for a 63-acre plot of land in South Heidelberg Township.

It is land that was farmed, until EmberClear Corporation saw it as an opportunity to build a natural gas processing plant.

"This would certainly be a boom to the area financially as well as the entire commonwealth," said South Heidelberg Township Manager Ronald Seaman.

The plant will process natural gas into gasoline. So naturally, EmberClear Corporation thought it was a perfect location because it is close to both a natural gas supply line and a tank farm where gasoline can be stored. That was until they started hearing complaints from neighbors.

"I was not happy about it. I think it is going to devalue our properties. I do not know how safe it is going to be especially seeing the gas explosion in New York yesterday. There is a daycare right next door," said Debbie Chandler, who lives across the street from the proposed site.

Seaman said he understands the safety concerns, but there are already four major pipelines running underneath the township and there are already multiple companies that handle combustible materials close by.

As far as 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, tank and storage division of DEP," said Seaman.

The company said the plant will bring roughly 1,000 construction jobs and 100 long-term positions. It plans to start construction in 2015.

The township supervisors will be looking over the preliminary plans at 7 p.m. Thursday. They encourage people to come and voice their concerns.

If the supervisors approve the plans, the company then needs to get approval from several state and federal agencies before it can submit a final plan to the township.

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