Residents won a small victory in their ongoing opposition to a slag processing facility hoping to set up shop in Wilmington’s Southbridge neighborhood.
The state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is extending the public comment period for the operation’s construction permit.
Walan Speciality Construction Products hopes to build a slag drying and grinding operation. It would turn a co-product of steel manufacturing from Japan into a cement additive to be sold locally.
Walan’s Lisa Dharwadkar says the company is prepared to go through DNREC’s process.
“They extended it to the 31st of December,” said Dharwadkar. “I think we understand why it was extended.”
Southbridge Civic Association President Marie Reed says community members are concerned about how the operation could impact health and quality of life.
“The emissions to the environment, the air quality,” said Reed. “The grinding from the machines.”
Dharwadkar says the slag from Japan would come in through the Port of Wilmington. Walan’s finished product would be shipped out by truck.
According to slides presented at a recent public hearing, the company does anticipate emissions of particulate matter, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide— but says they would be well below New Castle County thresholds.
Residential communities near the Port have long complained of environmental health issues stemming from airborne dust and trucking in the area.
Southbridge Civic Association’s Reed says the community has been speaking out against the proposed slag processing facility since April— and the extended comment period gives residents time to learn more.
“There’s a lot of unanswered questions on our side, on the community’s side, that we need to have some concrete answers,” said Reed.
Walan pulled a prior application this summer, partially in response to community concerns. And Dharwadkar says the company’s current application reflects modifications based on community input: altered trucking routes and increased coverage of the slag while in transport.
Southbridge Civic Association’s Reed sees the extended public comment period as a sign DNREC is listening to residents.
DNREC officials said in a statement the move is in response to “numerous requests from community associations, environmental advocates, and members of the public” at the recent public hearing.
Walan’s Dharwadkar says company representatives will attend a community meeting in Wilmington on Dec. 8th and plan to continue talking to residents.
The public comment period for the Walan facility has been extended through Dec. 31st.
Walan is currently leasing the property at 501 Christiana Ave from DuPont. Dharwadkar says Walan is in the first year of a long-term lease.
Walan is a recently formed company, with no existing facilities. It is associated with Penn Mag, inc., a family-run industrial mineral supplier based in western Pennsylvania.