Plymouth’s Council votes 3-1 to approve two-year extension with Covanta

During last night’s meeting of Plymouth Township’s Council, the council voted 3-1 to enter into a two-year agreement with Covanta to continue having its trash burned at the Conshohocken (Plymouth Township) plant.

Voting to enter into the agreement were Marty Higgins (D), Chris Manero (D) and Dave Gannon (D). Voting against it was Lenore Bruno (R). Karen Bramblet (D) was not present.

After the meeting, Manero posted the following on Facebook:

Please allow me a few moments to further explain the decision made at tonight’s township meeting. I will try to be succinct and I do not expect that I will change many minds in this group. But, some of you asked for an explanation and it is my responsibility to offer that to you.

A few points to start:

– We have a trash incineration facility in our community. The industry calls it an “Energy from Waste” facility and most residents call it an “Incinerator”. Whatever it is, I don’t think most of us- myself included- really want it here.
– I was 12 when that facility was built and I didn’t live here. It’s not my fault that it is here and I am not the one that caused the malfunctions over the past year. But, I have taken on the responsibility as an elected official to do my best to make sure that our residents are protected and our community is safe… that applies to all aspects of my position.

We have made significant changes in Plymouth Township with our handling of this plant. We did not simply re-up our previous 5 year contract as we always have done in the past. We hired an environmental law firm and an environmental engineer to advocate for us in all matters related to this plant. When we did that several months ago, it was seen as a positive move in the right direction.

Tonight, we made a short two year extension on our disposal contract with Covanta. This gives us time to explore other longer term options of what to do with our waste, it allows Covanta time to prove that they can operate more safely, and it gives our attorneys and engineers more time to uncover any misdeeds or improprieties within the Covanta operation. While fulfilling these responsibilities, we can also continue our service to residents of collecting trash and performing the multitude of other responsibilities that are handled by our public works department.

We are not putting dollars before health. We are not siding with Covanta. We are taking reasoned and logical steps toward making a difference, and we want to continue to do that. There is more we can do, and there is more we will call on all of you to help us with. Tonight was a continuation of our first steps. To characterize us as uncaring or unaware of the issue at hand is inaccurate. As I said tonight, we can accomplish a lot if we work together on this issue. We understand the anger of residents and we need you to understand the difficulty we have in balancing all of our operations as well.

I mean every word I have ever said in this group and I stand by every conversation we have had. I see this matter from your perspective, and I ask you to please take a moment and see it from ours. I have seen members of council and members of our township staff personally attacked in this group, and that is not productive. If we can make better attempts to understand and reason with one another, we are all going to get results we mutually agree upon.

Thank you.

Below is a video, provided by a reader, of the Covanta portion of the meeting. It includes comments from members of the council, the vote, comments from a representative of Covanta, and public comment.

More to come.