Contact Information for Covanta and PA Department of Environmental Protection 

COVANTA: 24/7 Hotline for Urgent Matters 610-569-9372 or the facility main number 610-940-6000

DEP: The number to share complaints/concerns with DEP is 484-250-5991. Citizens can also file complaints online by visiting our website at and clicking on the Residents Tab on the top of the page and following the links to the Environmental Complaints page.

Covanta Town Hall Questions

On Wednesday, August 2, 2023, I hosted a Town Hall in Plymouth Township following a myriad of constituent inquiries regarding the Waste-to-Energy plant on Conshohocken Road operated by Covanta. Representatives from Covanta, PA Department of Environmental Protection and the Montgomery County Health Department were invited to participate. At the conclusion of the event, all participants were sent the questions that were during the event and asked to submit a written response. They are listed below, unedited.


1.Who paid to build the (Covanta) plant? (Where can we find this info?)

a.Who owns it now?

COVANTA: Regarding the facility, it is owned by Covanta Plymouth Renewable Energy, LLC. Our understanding is that it was constructed by Montenay Energy, with financing provided by Montenay and through bonding (the bonds were repaid and retired through project revenues generated during the initial Service Agreement with the Waste System Authority of Eastern Montgomery County.)

DEP: The current applications to the DEP indicate the site is owned and operated by Covanta Plymouth Renewable Energy, LLC.

b.Whose trash is designated to go there?

COVANTA: No response.

DEP: Montgomery County’s waste management plan does not dictate that trash be sent to any particular facility. Covanta Plymouth is one of 27 listed facilities that waste from Montgomery County can be sent to under the current county waste management plan. It is up to the individual waste haulers and any contract requirements with individual municipalities that may designate a particular facility where waste should be taken.

2. Is anyone tracking air quality, asthma cases, lung disease issues etc. in the area?

COVANTA: No response.

DEP: Ambient air quality monitoring is conducted by the DEP to determine compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The closest site to this facility is located on Belvoir Road in Plymouth Meeting and the results can be viewed on DEP’s website at The facility itself monitors Carbon Monoxide, Sulfur Oxides, Nitrogen Dioxides, Hydrogen Chloride and Opacity on a continuous basis in accordance with the requirement of the operating permit. Citizens can visit their website to view real-time monitoring results.
Tracking health-related conditions, such as asthma or lung diseases, is outside the purview of DEP, and would be better answered by the Health Department.

MontCO DHHS: To our knowledge, no one is tracking public health cases related to air quality issues from the incinerator. In addition, a 2019 resident request for a formal Health Assessment of the community was denied by the federal Agency for Toxics Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) due to lack of environmental monitoring data. Current technology of air monitoring equipment apparently is not sensitive enough to determine whether health guidance levels on various air emission contaminants has been exceeded.

3.How much profit does the company realize for their shareholders? (Where can we find this info?)

COVANTA: No response.

Rep. Scott’s Office:

4.Who is responsible for cleaning up trash on the roads leading to and from the Covanta facility? According to the attendee who asked this question, Alanwood Road, Blue route and Conshohocken Road are full of trash.

COVANTA: No response.

DEP: Under Solid Waste Management regulations, Covanta is not allowed to allow litter to blow or be deposited off-site and is responsible to clean up trash and litter inside their fence line and on access roads on their property. Their permit and the regulations do not require them to clean up public roads off their site, although they may make agreements with local municipalities to address those types of issues. Their existing permit documents do indicate that paved areas on the site will be swept with a street sweeper and unpaved areas including fences will be policed on a scheduled basis by assigned personnel.

Rep. Scott’s Office: We have asked PennDOT to increase their maintenance runs of I-476 in that area. We have also notified the Township regarding the trash complaint along Alan Wood Road. The township has the ability to clean, issue trash/debris citations and other actions for this issue.

5.Is there a backup system to keep monitoring working during malfunctions? According to the attendee who asked this question, this was a commitment promise years ago.

COVANTA: No response.

DEP: The facility is equipped to operate in island mode, meaning that the energy they create is supposed to power the site in the event they lose outside power. Due to electrical issues, this did not occur in previous power outage events. We are continuing to work with Covanta officials to ensure that they have adequate power to maintain monitoring as well as control equipment in the event of future power interruptions.

6.What percentage of trash is biomedical, pharma wastes?

COVANTA: The facility is not permitted to accept regulated medical waste.

DEP: The Waste permit for the facility states, “Only disinfected infectious waste (infectious waste disinfected in accordance with 25 Pa. Code 284.321) may be accepted or processed at this facility. No infectious or chemotherapeutic waste may be accepted or processed at this facility."If they wished to do so, a permit application would have to be submitted to DEP for review. No such application for the acceptance of infectious waste has been submitted.

Facility is permitted to accept off-spec health care products and off-spec pharmaceutical waste. For each new source of this type of material, documentation describing the type and content of the waste must be submitted to the Department for review prior to it being accepted at Covanta Plymouth. This material is one of a list of types categorized as residual waste. The permit specifies that residual waste may not be more than 10% of the waste received by the facility on a monthly basis.

a.How many of the pollutants are carcinogenic?

COVANTA: No response.

DEP: Covanta is required to conduct annual testing for several air toxics, such as dioxins and furans and hexavalent chromium, which are considered carcinogens. However, the permit does not distinguish between those air toxics that are carcinogenic and those that may cause other health effects. The permit provides emission limits of toxic pollutants to be protective of the health and safety of the surrounding community and environment.

7.Who determines number of fines for malfunctions? What commitment does Covanta have to ensuring that these fines are avoided rather than considering them a business expense?

No response.

DEP: When a malfunction occurs, DEP will investigate the incident and determine if there were any violations of their operating permit and/or our regulations. If we find that violations occurred, we determine if a civil penalty action is warranted. If it is, the Air Pollution Control Act allows us to seek civil penalties up to $25,000 per day per violation. There are thirteen (13) statutory criteria, such as compliance history of the source, and damage to the environment, that is considered when calculating the penalty.

8.Who should residents contact to share complaints, concerns or overall comments about the facility?

COVANTA: 24/7 Hotline for Urgent Matters 610-569-9372 or the facility main number 610-940-6000

DEP: The number to share complaints/concerns with DEP is 484-250-5991. Citizens can also file complaints online by visiting our website at and clicking on the Residents Tab on the top of the page and following the links to the Environmental Complaints page.

9.How to find reports submitted to the DEP by Covanta

DEP: Certain reports submitted by companies, such as the annual emission inventories, can be found on DEP’s website at, then clicking on the Data and Tools tab at the top of the page and clicking on Reports. Otherwise reports are maintained in the regional offices in our Records Management Department. Citizens can schedule time to review our records by contacting us at 484-250-5910.

10.Dates or predicted dates of public comment periods for permits applications.

a.Waste Program’s permit renewal comment period - Comments on the waste program renewal application can be provided by the public at any time after we received the application, since the applicant did provide the required newspaper notifications for three consecutive weeks prior to submitting the application DEP. The end of the comment period is on October 18, 2023, 60 days after the publication in the Bulletin on August 19, 2023.

b.Air Quality’s permit renewal public comment period – The earliest our technical review would be completed is mid-November, however, considering the time of year, the review and public comment period may be more likely in early 2024. We do plan to hold a public hearing to receive comments from the public.

11.Any other information you think would be useful to provide


DEP: Additional information on the renewal can be found on the region’s community information page -


View my letter to Secretary Richard Negrin of
Dept. of Environmental Protection


PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Pamphlet

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