Opinion: Covanta Plant Should be Shut Down Temporarily (at minimum)

Since last December those who live around the Covanta plant in Conshohocken (Plymouth Township) have complained about an odor that has followed malfunctions at the plant.

Covanta has denied the odor is from them, until the most recent one this week. In a statement, Covanta shared that due to the loss of power at the plant, its odor control system was unable to function and the smell, this time, was indeed from the plant.

In a later email to MoreThanTheCurve.com, a representative of Covanta shared “With power now restored, the facility is running odor control fans that contain odors inside the building.”

Starting about 7:00 p.m. last evening (just hours after we received that email) comments like these started to appear on social media:

Smells like poison outside!!!

This is insane! I cannot believe this is not getting remedied. It smells like poison because it is probably slowly poisoning us 😢😠😞

Can’t go outside at all right now the smell is the strongest. Filing another report. Hard to live like this.

At what point in time will we know WHAT exactly we are breathing in/exposing ourselves to? Also, at what point in time will someone with an environmental background be taking air samples instead of just smelling the odor via their nose? Has the DEP taken air samples when this awful smell is happening? How is this possible with all the times that this has happened – that we still do not know what we are breathing in and its potential impact?

Covanta’s own statements, just from yesterday, show that it doesn’t have a full grasp on the internal workings of the facility. The odor control system did not work. What else isn’t working properly?

Last night at least two members of Plymouth’s Council, Chris Manero and Lenore Bruno, were present to experience the smell. Manero posted the following on Facebook:

We are committed, as a township, to doing right by our residents and we will continue to address this issue.

I have to be honest… I knew this was a significant problem, but experiencing it first hand tonight was a game changer.

Once can be a malfunction, twice can be a coincidence, but we have reached the level now of this being a pattern. And it is a pattern we cannot accept.

For the safety of the community, the plant should at least be shut down temporarily while it is determined why there has been a series of malfunctions and whether the plant is fixable at this point in its life cycle (it’s near the end). It should also be determined exactly what is being emitted from the plant.

There have been at least four malfunctions since December including the one this week.

It has already passed the time to take action.