The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued its draft plan approval for Perdue AgriBusiness’ proposed grain elevator and soybean crushing facility in Conoy Township, Lancaster County. DEP will convene a public hearing to give residents an opportunity to review and comment on the draft plan before making a final decision.
“This is great news for Pennsylvania farmers and Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Gregory Rowe, vice president of Grain Operations, Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) for Perdue AgriBusiness. “We’re encouraged by this progress and look forward to continuing our work to advance this project. This has been a long process, but in the end, the benefit is that we’ve been able to design what we believe is one of the nation’s most advanced soybean processing plants.”
Perdue AgriBusiness submitted to the state its final permit application in June 2013 and since then met several times with DEP to review information, as this is the first solvent extraction facility in Pennsylvania. During the permitting process, Perdue Agribusiness has partnered with DEP on a permit that complies with strict state and federal regulatory requirements to ensure public health, safety and environmental sustainability.
The upcoming DEP hearing, which will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 31 at the Bainbridge Fire Hall, will be the state’s second public hearing on the project. Individuals must contact DEP to reserve time for testimony. In addition to these hearings, Perdue AgriBusiness has convened several meetings and forums in the community over the years to inform residents about the project.
The grain elevator and processing facility represent an investment of more than $60 million in Pennsylvania agriculture and local communities. That investment will generate more than 150 construction jobs, 35 long-term jobs upon completion and an additional 500 jobs in crop production and transportation.
The company says area soybean farmers will be able to see a direct benefit as Perdue AgriBusiness’ proposed plant will be located right in the heart of Pennsylvania’s largest soybean growing region. Lancaster, York and Berks counties rank as the state’s top three soybean-producing counties, respectively. Lebanon County ranks fifth. Despite this robust market, most local soybeans today leave Pennsylvania for processing and then come back as livestock feed, and extra costs are incurred on both ends of the transportation cycle. By traveling fewer miles, farmers save money and vehicle emissions are lowered over the long term, the company stated.
Perdue AgriBusiness has been working on this project for more than five years. The company long ago secured all local and county approvals for the project, which will be built on land adjacent to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA), where Perdue plans to purchase steam to power the plant.
The agreement with LCSWMA offers several environmental benefits. The facility will have a smaller environmental footprint than the typical soybean processing plant, since processing water and steam will be provided by the authority. The used processing water and steam condensate will be returned to the authority’s facility and be recycled, further adding to the environmentally conscious design of this project, the company said.
“Throughout this project, our company has worked openly with community stakeholders and regulators,” Rowe said. “We’ll continue to do our part and meet the high expectations of the farmers and countless supporters who have been with us every step of the way. We remain committed to seeing it through to the end.”