Chester LNG

Energy company plotted gas plant in small Pennsylvania town — but no one told residents

| July 25, 2023

This story originally appeared in The Intercept. To read the full story, click here.

WHEN ZULENE MAYFIELD received a call from a reporter last summer, she was surprised. A journalist working at Philadelphia’s public radio station had contacted her for a story about a plan to develop a liquefied natural gas facility in her hometown of Chester, Pennsylvania, a city that sits along the Delaware River just southwest of the Philadelphia International Airport.

Since 1992, Mayfield has led an environmental justice group called Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living. She formed the group to address local concerns about the concentration of waste disposal facilities throughout the city, most notably incineration and waste treatment plants. Chester is home to one of the country’s biggest incinerators, a waste-to-energy facility owned by the Covanta corporation, which burns trash from up and down the East Coast.

The facilities, Mayfield said, were sickening residents in Chester, an overwhelmingly Black and low-income community. Over the years, Mayfield helped lead several campaigns to stop new incineration and waste treatment plants from setting up shop in Chester. So she was disturbed when she learned about a proposal for a new $6.4 billion liquefied natural gas, or LNG, facility in her backyard. Mayfield, who is deeply enmeshed in the community’s environmental health scene, had heard nothing about it until her group received a press inquiry.

Akela Lacy

Akela Lacy

Akela Lacy is a Politics Reporter at The Intercept. She was previously The Intercept’s inaugural Ady Barkan Reporting Fellow; prior to that, she was a Politics Fellow in the D.C. Bureau.

She has also worked at Politico, covering breaking news and immigration. She produced Politico’s flagship newsletter, Playbook, and co-authored the afternoon newsletter, Playbook PM. Prior to that, Lacy worked in international reporting at the Pulitzer Center. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a B.A. in sociology and Italian. She is based in New York.

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