CLEARFIELD – An update was given to Clearfield Borough Council Thursday night concerning the plans for BioEnergy International LLC of Norwell, Mass., to locate within the county.
Discussion about the proposed BioEnergy plant at the meeting focused on the topics of the Clearfield Technology Park being a probable location, the “cleanliness” of the plant and jobs that would be brought to the community.
BioEnergy is also considering what has been dubbed as the “cornfield” site in Lawrence Township. BioEnergy has purchased an option on that parcel from Clearfield County.
For the plant to go in at the Technology Park, several requirements must be met. One of which being road access for as many as 45 to 76 vehicles coming and and leaving the plant at peak exodus moments, mainly in the form of employee traffic. Another requirement is for 50-90 acres of land. This is needed in part as twice a week the ethanol plant will require a visit by 100 car train, nearly a mile long.
The Technology Park looks attractive with RJ Corman next door, Rob Swales, executive director of Clearfield County Economic Development Corp., said.
“The Tech Park becomes somewhat of an interest to them knowing how much rail is adjacent to the property,” he said.
Despite a strong plus for placing the plant in the Technology Park, the location isn’t set in stone yet. The park doesn’t quite have the desired amount of room, but it could be made to work.
Unlike the cornfield site, the Technology Park would not need to be rezoned before the plant could move in. If construction started soon, BioEnergy could finish construction prior to the tax breaks offered through the Keystone Opportunity Zone expire.
Swales said that if the Technology Park is to be the final site selected, some of the buildings in the park would be purchased by BioEnergy, and some businesses would have to move.
Of the land available at the park, about 35 of them are controlled by the CCEDC.
Swales said the big three concerns people have are issues with water, health and safety, which brings about the cleanliness he spoke of regarding the plant.
“It will use the best current technology available,” said Swales repeatedly throughout the meeting, usually in reference to the potential smell of the plant.
Despite a reputation for smell, Swales told the council council that newer technologies have rendered this reputation obsolete. Instead it is said that this plant would either smell like freshly baked bread or as yeasty smell. Even then, except for perhaps twice a day, one would need to be within 200 yards of the plant to smell it.
“It is a brewing process. They are making alcohol,” said Swales explaining the yeast smell.
When concerns about the temperature of the water leaving the plant were brought to the floor, no exact figure could be given at the time. All that could be promised was they would be within Environmental Protection Agency standards.
The plant is expected to create 200 jobs with its construction with around 70 full-time employees.
Councilwoman Joan McMillen noted that if the Technology Park became a viable option for BioEnergy, the borough could hold a town meeting similar to the one held for the Lawrence Township cornfield site.
Members of Clearfield Borough Council not present were Mike Errigo and Barry Reddinger.
GantDaily Editor Dawn Walls contributed to this story.