By KAITLYN NAPLES
Phoenix Soil LLC, a soil recycling company in Waterbury, has its permits approved and is expected to begin its move to Plainville in the next two months, the company’s President David Green said last week.
“We are still in environmental assessment mode” on the former Atlantic Pipe Co. property on North Washington Street, where Phoenix will be relocating, he said. Once that process is complete, the company will begin construction on the buildings on the property and make sure it is “flood proof.”
The company is expecting to be in full operation in Plainville by the end of this year, at the latest. When the facility in Plainville is completed, an engineer will check it, and then Green said he can close in Waterbury. During that closure process, Green said the equipment will be removed and the facility will be cleaned thoroughly, and another engineer will test that as well to make sure it is clean.
Green is making the move to Plainville after being in business in Waterbury for over 20 years. The company joined an agreement in 1993 with Waterbury to treat contaminated soil for three years. The closure deadline expired, but the city didn’t force Phoenix Soil to close at that time. Later, when the city tried to enforce the terms of the old deal, the judge hearing the city’s legal challenge decided Waterbury had waited too long and extended the shutdown date until March 2012. Neighbors in the city have wanted the plant gone for years, and have said the smoke stack was emitting smoke that has contributed to the poor air quality in Waterbury. However, the state has said Phoenix Soil has a good environmental record.
In a previous interview, Green said he wanted to take several steps to improve the company in Waterbury and lessen its impact on the environment. But those actions had to be delayed due to lapsed permits and court battles. The city has been fighting to close the factory for years, spending tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees.
The difference in the new facility in Plainville will be the additions of a wet scrubber and a truck tire wash, which he couldn’t add to his facility in Waterbury. These additions will reduce stack emissions and stop tainted soil from being carried out by trucks.
“Plainville is an excellent choice for Phoenix,” Green said, adding he believes the town residents and government are made up of intelligent people who check the facts before making decisions. He said town officials visited his facility in Waterbury before making any decisions to support the move to Plainville.
Green has held several public meetings in Plainville for citizens who were concerned about the company moving to town. The way Phoenix Soil works is that it accepts certain contaminated soil from across the area and bakes it at high temperatures until it is free of most pollutants. It then sells the recycled soil as fill.
Green said many concerned citizens of Plainville visited his facility also, “and at that point, everyone who came here felt comfortable after.”
He said he understood why there were concerns, especially since the residents were only hearing rumors and gossip about the company.
“We are in the business to make the environment the best it can be,” Green said. “We are totally a green company.”
In Plainville, Green said his company will strive to be “a great neighbor.”
“The more people who see us and meet with us, the more comfortable they will be,” Green said, adding that he is always available to citizens who are curious about the company, and is willing to talk to anyone anytime during the moving process, and when the business is up and running.
“We are really looking forward to this” he said. “This move is going to be really good for Phoenix Soil.”
Robert Isner, the director for the Waste Engineering and Enforcement Division for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), said he worked with Phoenix during its permit approval process, and said the department is “comfortable with the technology and operation” of Phoenix Soil.
Isner said DEEP receives reports on a regular basis from the facility to make sure everything is operating as it is supposed to. Before the new facility is opened, Phoenix will have independent engineers conduct tests to make sure it is running properly, and these engineers will work with DEEP engineers as well to come to a conclusion that it is safe for opening.
Isner said Phoenix Soil is the only facility of its kind in Connecticut, and said it is necessary because there is a lot of contaminated soil in the state, which can come from car accidents, underground storage tanks, and more.
“The ability to treat this soil, so it can be renewed and reused is a much better option than hauling soil out of state,” Isner added.