Gas Plant Gets Preliminary Approval

A Canadian company has won preliminary approval to build a plant that would convert natural gas to gasoline, propane and other products.

South Heidelberg Township supervisors on Thursday night gave preliminary approval to the site plan for Calgary-based EmberClear Corp.'s project, The Reading Eagle reported.

The company still needs to complete traffic, geological, fiscal and environmental surveys and win zoning approval. Nearly 100 people attended the meeting and more than a dozen told officials that they worry about how their neighborhood would be affected.

Officials estimate that the project could cost $850 million to $1 billion and take three years to complete, employing 900 to 1,200 during construction and 80 to 100 to operate the plant. Underground pipelines would be used to bring in natural gas and ship out completed products.

Steve Wolszczenski said he wasn't confident that neighbors would be protected.

"I won't be able to sell my house with all those buildings behind it," he said. "Frankly I don't want to live here anymore, but it's too late."

The supervisors and a company official stressed that many of the answers sought by audience members would come during state and federal reviews of the project.

"What we are depending on is the fact that they have to go through 45 agencies to get this facility built," said Richard Hummel, vice chairman of the panel.

James Palumbo, president of EmberClear subsidiary Future Power Pennsylvania Inc., said the comments but would be considered as the process moves along.

"We don't want to be a bad neighbor," Palumbo said. "We are going to be here for a while."

EmberClear _ which has offices in Calgary, Houston and Moosic, Pa. _ says on its website that it builds facilities to convert natural gas into transportation fuels or electricity.

The firm also plans to build two natural gas electricity plants in Schuylkill County, breaking ground on the first one this spring.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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