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[This article was originally published by The Philadelphia Inquirer]

Israel-based Elcon Recycling Services has withdrawn its application to build a large facility in Falls Township that would have processed up to 210,000 tons of liquid chemical waste annually for recycling, according to a notice the company filed Thursday.

“The current business climate, including the impacts of COVID-19, has forced Elcon to reevaluate its plans for expanding its hazardous waste treatment business into the United States,” Zvi Elgat, the company’s CEO, said in a withdrawal letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Elcon’s plan to build a U.S. plant had been met with years of stiff resistance from officials and residents in the Bucks County township.

“The withdrawal of Elcon’s applications for a proposed project in Falls Township is a win for both local residents and the environment,” State Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D., Bucks) said in the statement. “I have been opposed to Elcon’s proposal from the beginning. ... Today’s announcement is a victory in a hard-fought battle, led by concerned residents, to protect the health and safety of our entire community.”

The Falls Township Board of Supervisors in April 2019 voted to bar Elcon from building the facility, and a month later, the DEP said it intended to deny the company a permit to treat and store commercial hazardous wastewater, saying its application for the proposed new facility had 18 deficiencies.

In January, Elcon, with an office in Princeton, asked for an extension to meet clarifications requested by the DEP. There had been no activity on the application since.

The local battle played out over five years and drew thousands of residents to protest and sign a petition.

Elcon’s proposal called for construction of a plant at the Keystone Port Industrial Complex in Fairless Hills, about a half-mile from the Delaware River. It planned a four-step process that would remove and dry out solids and salts from hazardous waste. During the same process, volatile organic compounds — natural or man-made chemicals that can cause myriad health issues if ingested frequently — would be turned into gases and released into the air. Elcon said the emissions would be harmless.

It would have resulted in about 20 trucks transporting the chemicals into the facility per day.

The company bills itself as “an industrial wastewater treatment service provider, addressing the needs of companies with highly polluted aqueous hazardous wastes, mainly in the chemical and pharmaceutical markets.”

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About Frank Kummer

Frank covers the environment, with an emphasis on its impact on real people.

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