Coastal Zone Act status decision request–Green Delaware’s comment letter

March 16, 2010

Hon. Collin O’Mara, Secretary

Delaware DNREC

Regarding: Coastal Zone Act status decision application of FCC Environmental

Dear Secretary O’Mara:

A facility presently located on the Christina River in the City of Wilmington desires to relocate to a site in the Delaware Coastal Zone, where “new heavy industry” in not allowed and other industrial activities are allowed by permit.

We have examined the application. According to it: the facility would:

“process approximately 24 million gallons of used oil and approximately 30 million gallons of industrial wastewater annually once the project is completed.  The facility’s annual production capacities would initially be limited to 12 million gallons of used oil and approximately 15 million gallons of industrial wastewater.”

It would produce:

1) Group II Base Lube

2) Asphalt Flux

3) Vacuum Gas Oil

4) Light-Ends Distillate

Most significant, it would contain five out of nine of the the types of equipment used to establish whether a facility constitutes “heavy industry:”

Will the project have the following equipment or facilities?

a. Smoke stacks YES NO

b. Tanks YES NO

c. Distillation or reaction columns YES NO

d. Chemical processing equipment YES NO

e. Scrubbing towers YES NO

f. Pickling equipment YES NO

g. Waste treatment lagoons YES NO

h. Smelters YES NO

I. Incinerators YES NO

According to the application the facility would emit 83 thousand pounds per year of air pollutants plus 29 thousand tons per year of carbon dioxide.

In addition to used oil, a carcinogen, the facility would use “various acids, caustic soda …” which are dangerous chemicals.

The applicants propose to treat 30 million gallons per year of “industrial wastewater.” While they report no water discharges, clearly these discharges to a POTW would result in some increased discharges to the Delaware River and these need to be considered. The source of these wastewaters is not clearly identified in the application.

The operating history of the previous owner of the business, IPC at the Wilmington site requires consideration. This facility has a history of spills and leaks emphasizing that such a facility should not be located on a water body.

For example (http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/northeast/ipc/index.html):

“On Saturday, July 15, 2006, a broken hose at the International Petroleum Corp. recycling facility in Wilmington, DE resulted in a spill that dumped up to 5,000 gallons of waste oil into the Christina River. The IPC facility collects and recycles used oil from a variety of customers and the discharge occurred during a tank transfer. Oil spread from the Christina River with the tide cycles to the nearby Brandywine Creek and Delaware River. The site is located in a mixed commercial/industrial portion of the City of Wilmington Delaware.”

This ultimately lead to a Natural Resource Damage Assessment of $194,011 (plus costs) against IPC.

The application contains many unsubstantiated, basically rhetorical claims but lacks a detailed process description.

Conclusions:

Oil recycling is needed but should not be carried out in ecologically sensitive areas due to the emissions and high potential for spills and leaks. The proposed site is not appropriate.

DNREC should carefully consider not only the application but the operating history of the existing business on the Christina River.

The Coastal Zone Act reserves the Coastal Zone “primarily for recreation and tourism.” “new heavy industry” is not allowed.

The application is for a new activity having the characteristics of “heavy industry” and is thus not allowed in the Coastal Zone. We recommend that you so determine.

If it were, erroneously, to be determined not to be heavy industry, it could only be allowed by Coastal Zone permit.

We also note that the wording of the public notice was misleading, stating:

“…to determine whether a CZA permit is required to construct and operate a used oil recycling facility at the former Kaneka site, located at 1685 River Road, New Castle.”

In fact, the status decision also is about whether such a facility could legally operate at all in the Coastal Zone. This is more accurately stated in the last sentence of the notice:

“A status decision determines whether an activity is allowed by the Coastal Zone Act and can be permitted under its regulations.”

We also think it a bid misleading to describe the activity as “recycling” without mentioning that this involves distillation and the release of air pollutants. This could tend to mislead readers about the nature of the activity.

In these ways the public notice was biased in favor of the applicants.

If these comments raise any questions please feel free to contact us.

Yours very truly,

Alan Muller

Copy: Kevin Coyle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *