Asked if it would be too expensive to build, he replied: “That’s for them to say.”
Ewall said he already drafted a very lengthy ordinance that would regulate any type of incinerator plant built in the city. “It will be focused on air pollution.”
Elaborating after the meeting, Ewall explained his draft ordinance would require Delta Thermo to continuously monitor emissions from the plant, to report emissions of numerous toxic chemicals “in real time” on a publicly-accessible Web site and to be fined, using penalties stipulated in the ordinance, when those emissions are in violation.
More than the cost of adding monitoring equipment to measure all those chemicals, he said what would kill the project is that companies “are afraid of having any accountability. Companies are getting away with putting out the pollution they do because no one knows what they are putting out. For toxins, they measure once a year or not at all.”
But Van Naarden, head of Delta Thermo, said his plant will have an analysis and monitoring system assessing what’s coming out of its exhaust stack. He said that information will be made available to the city via computer on a real-time basis “uncontrolled by us.”
Van Naarden said Delta Thermo is doing that “at a significant additional expense” to the plant design even though no state or federal regulation requires it, because “we’re being extremely open and we’re very confident about the data. We feel very confident about this design and its lack of significant pollutants.”
“We are going over and above what is normally required,” said the Delta Thermo CEO. “It’s the right thing to do. We have nothing to hide.” He said the city will have control over that data and could share it with the public if it chooses to do so.
During the meeting, Ewall said “any company with a smokestack they want to sell you” will say it will have continuous and strict monitoring by the state “and if anything coming out of the stack goes over the state’s limit, we’ll be fined heavily.” But he said the state only requires monitoring of three or four pollutants.
“All the mercury, dioxins, lead, arsenic and all these other things that are going to cause cancer in your kids and cause others problems are not going to be continuously monitored,” maintained Ewall. “Even though the technology exists to do that, they are not going to be required to do that and they definitely are not going to volunteer to do that.”
“We are voluntarily doing that,” repeated Van Naarden, adding the plant’s stack monitoring system will monitor for every type of toxic chemical.
Van Naarden said his Allentown plant is being designed by a German engineering company, using German standards that are far stricter than those of the federal Environmental Protection Agency or the state Department of Environmental Protection. And he said it is being designed to beat Japanese standards, “which are by far the toughest in the world.”
Monday night’s meeting was organized by the Lehigh Valley Coffee Party, which claims 56 members, and the Lehigh Valley International Workers of the World, which claims 10 members and a few dozen supporters.
More than five people at Monday’s meeting immediately volunteered to serve on that committee. They included Marvin Wheeler, Rich Fegley, Diane Teti and Joe Shields.
Said Wheeler: “My primary reason for coming here is to see how to mobilize my community.”