Delawareans in Wilmington and New Castle County are concerned about industrial air pollutants after state officials approved the construction of a slag-grinding facility along Christiana Avenue. Residents of nearby Southbridge have been resisting the plant’s approval on the grounds that its processing plant will spew harmful contaminants into the air they breathe.
Slag is a byproduct of steel production. The processing plant will dry and grind the slag to create an ingredient to be used in concrete. The grinding process produces dust that creates an environmental hazard. Walan Specialty Construction Products, also known as Penn Mag, recently received a permit to build the factory despite local objections.
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) called for residents to voice their concerns in 2018 and took those matters under advisement. In approving the permit, DNREC officials believed the fears of the local community were addressed. DNREC said the company will be required to implement a plan to control dust and ensure that vehicles transporting its materials avoid residential areas. The DNREC Secretary assured residents that the Division of Air Quality had performed testing that indicated the levels of air pollution would remain below federal and state guidelines.
Industrial safety materials advise against breathing in the slag dust, as it is known to cause lung damage and possibly even cancer. A report on a similar facility in Camden, New Jersey showed that processing slag accounted for about 10 percent of outdoor dust in the vicinity. Interestingly, Division of Air Quality officials did not answer questions about whether DNREC deliberations involved air quality measurements taken at an unrelated monitoring station set up two years ago in Wilmington’s Eden Park.
Opponents of the facility complained that past arrangements with similar industrial businesses have proven to be against the best interests of residents. They stated businesses that set up shop with pledges broke those promises and polluted the air with little consequence. The Division of Air Quality released a memo responding to such concerns, saying that using prior facilities in the area as a measure to gauge future operations was unfair.
The company intends to support the community by providing jobs, an arrangement welcomed by local unions and the port of Wilmington. Others suggested setting aside funds to address the potential health impact on locals and ongoing independent air quality monitoring.
If you experienced health problems due to exposure of industrial pollutants, call the Delaware environmental lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. to discuss your options. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445. Located in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we represent clients in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.