​Dear Friend,

The Delaware County Regional Water Authority (DELCORA) operates a sewage incinerator in the City of Chester, PA, along the Delaware River. Chester’s residents have long been subjected to environmental racism and injustice in the form of multiple major pollution sources clustered together in a community of color. The DELCORA facility not only processes sewage waste generated throughout Delaware County, it also incinerates industrial wastewater, industrial food processing, grease, medical waste and residual waste. Residual waste can include asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls, and drilling fluid, among many others. DELCORA also accepts significant amounts of toxic material from at least 13 different landfills.

DELCORA’s incinerator on the Delaware River is currently in violation of the Clean Water Act for excessive discharges of fecal coliform, which is indicative of pathogens - disease-producing bacteria and viruses such as E. Coli, which can cause severe intestinal disease. The Water Research Center has concluded that “some waterborne pathogenic diseases include typhoid fever, viral and bacterial gastroenteritis and hepatitis A.”

The facility is also perpetually in a “high priority violation” of the Clean Air Act for emissions of dangerous levels of hydrochloric acid, which can damage land and water ecosystems, and in humans can lead to adverse health outcomes such as respiratory, dental, and reproductive impacts. 

In addition to the public health impacts of toxic pollutants, Chester residents have also experienced large-scale flooding during extreme storms. The flood risks present in Chester, combined with the fecal coliform discharged in water from DELCORA create an unacceptable environmental and public health risk. DELCORA is now proposing to renew its permit “for an existing discharge of treated sewage,” under the federal National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

DELCORA should not be allowed to renew its NPDES permit.

Public comments on this permit renewal are due Monday, March 1st. Now is the time to demand the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hold a public hearing on this permit renewal when it is safe to publicly gather. Residents must be given the opportunity to speak publicly about pollution and public health impacts in their community due to toxic discharges and water violations under the Clean Water Act. 

Finally, it is important to consider that DELCORA’s current NPDES renewal application was originally submitted on October 31, 2017 and is only now up for public comment. DELCORA’s NPDES is also required to share information regarding recent flooding events and combined sewer overflows, but it’s most recent records are from July 2017.

Considering changing weather patterns and conditions of the Delaware River, the information provided in the original application may no longer be relevant. DEP should require DELCORA to re-apply for this permit renewal with the most up-to-date discharge testing and climate change predictions available. 

Please click here to submit an official comment on this proposal to continue to discharge unsafe levels of fecal coliform and toxic pollutants into the Delaware River. 

Comments are due Monday, March 1st.


Joseph Otis Minott, Esq.
Executive Director and Chief Counsel


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