Slag grinding operation approved for construction near Port of Wilmington
Walan Specialty Construction Products received permit approval from DNREC Monday to build a slag drying and grinding facility in south Wilmington.
The operation at 501 Christiana Ave. will turn a co-product of steel manufacturing from Japan into a cement additive to be sold locally.
The approval includes a dust control plan, with conditions for storage and trucking of materials. DNREC officials say the permit limits throughput of slag at the plant to a level 43 percent lower than what was presented to the public last fall.
Dust is among several air pollutants the plant is expected to emit. Company representatives said last year they anticipate emissions of particulate matter, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, below New Castle County thresholds. DNREC concluded that the proposed construction project complies with federal and state air pollution laws and regulations.
The permit application initially faced pushback from residents of neighboring Southbridge and the Route 9 corridor. Community leaders there already complain of environmental and health impacts from existing local industry.
Residents and leaders later began to seek a ‘community benefits agreement’ with Walan.
Southbridge Civic Association president Marie Reed still hopes local communities can reach such an agreement with Walan— which she says could address residents’ potential future health concerns by setting up "some type of funding" and instituting independent air monitoring.
Walan company representatives previously met with community members, and said they addressed some of their concerns between first and second versions of permit applications submitted last year.
“Anytime there is a new establishment coming into the community, we have to be cautious,” said Sandra Smithers, president of the Dunleith Civic Association. “Walan has reached out to the community, has been at community meetings, has promised to be a good neighbor, has said all the right things. But we don’t know until it actually comes to fruition.”
Lisa Dharwadkar of Walan says with the permit approval, the company is “excited to move forward” with its project, and hopes to do so this year.
The company still needs to obtain an operating permit from DNREC.
Walan is a recently formed company. It is associated with Penn Mag, Inc., a family-run industrial mineral supplier based in western Pennsylvania.