HAZLE TWP. – Company officials who want to build an asphalt plant in the Lattimer section of the township deny any wrongdoing in response to a notice of violation they received from the state Department of Environmental Protection last week.
DEP informed Glenn O. Hawbaker officials that the company violated the Air Pollution Control Act by beginning construction on the proposed plant without securing a permit.
According to the violation notice, DEP officials saw three asphalt silos, a “baghouse,” at least one blower and several sections of duct work onsite during an Aug. 30 inspection of a stone crushing plant being installed nearby.
“The plan approval for this equipment has not yet been issued,” the notice states.
The notice instructs the company to submit an explanation of why construction began and measures that the company will take to ensure further violations don’t occur.
Hawbaker employee James F. Kerschner sent a response letter dated Sept. 17 stating that Hawbaker officials “are confused by these allegations.”
Kerschner wrote that the equipment “is simply being temporarily stored in a disassembled state at the site because the equipment suppliers required Hawbaker to remove the equipment from their locations, and Hawbaker had no place to store it other than this site.”
“We have not taken any steps to begin installing or assembling the equipment into a working asphalt plant. It has always been our understanding that the temporary storage of equipment at a site pending receipt of a plan approval is permissible,” Kerschner wrote.
Kerschner went on to state that according to state law, “construction” means “to physically initiate assemblage, installation, erection or fabrication of an air contamination source. … Construction is not defined to include the presence of components of a source at a site.”
“Moreover, it is our understanding that DEP and (the federal Environmental Protection Agency) have issued guidance advising that ordering of equipment and temporary onsite storage are permissible activities before permit issuance,” Kerschner stated.
DEP officials were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
Township residents who oppose the plant because of noise and traffic concerns have questioned whether township approval of the plant is a “done deal” because equipment had already been located on the site.
The company needs a special exception from the Zoning Board to construct the plant there. The Board next meets Oct. 15.