Plymouth Township likely to renew contract with Covanta

During a workshop meeting on April 5th, Plymouth Township’s Council heard a presentation by Chris Loschiavo, the township’s public works director, on the impact of choosing not to utilize the Covanta plant in the Conshohocken section of the township. The township, along with many other municipalities, takes its’ trash to the plant where it is burned as part of a process to generate power.

The video is cued to the Covanta portion of the meeting.

Loschiavo’s study showed that it would cost a minimum of approximately $190,000 more a year to take the trash to J.P. Mascaro & Sons’ transfer station in Bridgeport. From there, the trash would be hauled to Birdsboro and placed in a landfill, however, Loschiavo pointed out that being taken to Birdsboro is not guaranteed and Mascaro could take it to Covanta. The estimated cost difference didn’t include the potential need for additional labor, vehicles, or gas.

Loschiavo stressed that utilizing Covanta is very convenient for the township’s public works department and results in it being able to empty a truck and return to a route in 30 minutes.

Councilmember Karen Bramblett pointed out that Plymouth is a very small part (1.25%) of Covanta’s business at the local plant and that if the township chose to not use the plant, the plant will still continue to operate.

The discussion ended with members of Plymouth’s Council stating that they are ready to vote on continuing with Covanta at a future meeting. According to Township Manager Karen Weiss, the Borough of Conshohocken has already agreed to an extension and the Borough of West Conshohocken is preparing to vote. In 2019, Whitemarsh Township chose to switch from taking its’ trash to Covanta and instead utilize the Mascaro landfill. Whitemarsh charges a specific trash service fee to its residents and increased that fee to pay for the increased cost.

Overnight there have been numerous social meeting posts about the plant making a loud noise. The plant has gone through a series of malfunctions in recent years resulting in a burning plastic smell (that Covanta has denied is them) and noise. Covanta did notify the public that it would be shutting down one of its units in mid-March and it was scheduled to return to service on April 3rd.

In January of 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced a consent assessment with Covanta involving a $218,383 civil penalty that resulted from air quality violations that occurred in 2019 and 2020.

More to come.

UPDATE – the noise overnight now seems to have been work being done on the Blue Route.