On page 18 of today’s Delaware County Daily Times, there’s a photo of St. Rep. Kirkland at the annual holiday party for Chester seniors adjacent to an article crediting him and St. Rep. Killion for getting a $6 million grant for Kimberly-Clark that saves 600 jobs – or so the story reads.

I guess we’re supposed to be led to believe that if Kimberly-Clark didn’t get this $6 million they were going to close up shop in Chester. That may very well be true. They certainly seemed to convince Harrisburg it was true and finagled $6 million from the state as a result.

 

You’d have to go back to an earlier Daily Times article…‘Wolf, Delco state elected officials announce $12M in grants for county’…  to get an important detail that sheds a different light on this story.

It appears Kimberly-Clark has been planning (or forced to plan) an upgrade to their electric and steam generation systems. What we learn from this proposed upgrade is two things: one, it cost $150 million; and, two, they’ve been burning coal in Chester for years.

Let’s start with the coal.

All this talk for all these years about environment issues in Chester, and I don’t remember a single one concerning coal burning at Kimberly-Clark. The Covanta trash to energy plant and the refineries just down the road have been taking it on the chin over environmental stuff, but I just don’t remember anyone concerned about Kimberly-Clark burning tons of coal every day in Chester.

My guess is the EPA has mandated they finally get rid of coal burning and Kimberly-Clark has to either comply with a fuel other than coal to create their electric and steam, or shut down.

Today’s article says they’re building a new Combined Heat and Power unit that uses natural gas instead of coal, like this is some kind of new technology. I was selling Philadelphia commercial and industrial companies these things when they were called Cogeneration units back in the 80s during my time with PGW. What’s taking Kimberly-Clark so long to get on board?

I’m having a hard time believing they’ve been buring coal all this time and our environmental justice ambassador (Rev. Horace Strand) has been sweeping it under the rug while running after the sexy new stormwater money.

Even St. Rep. Kirkland agrees…

 “The improvements to the plant emissions from these upgrades will not only benefit the environment, but they will also help improve air quality and improve the health of neighbors living near the plant in Chester City.”

Kids are running around Chester with asthma and no one know it’s largely due to tons of coal burning down by the river. Amazing!

$6 million saves the day?

I thought something didn’t look right when I read that $6 million is saving the day for this new project at Kimberly-Clark. You can’t replace an industrial power generation system for a measly $6 million. Chester High couldn’t even replace their heating and air conditioning system with the $25 million they were allegedly given – well, I guess they could if they tried.

Going back to the earlier article, it explains that this is a $150 million project. Somehow, I guess Kimberly-Clark had $144 million on hand but needed the state to kick in that last $6 million in order to get the job done and save 600 jobs.

Y’all can believe what you want. It seems to me that Kimberly-Clark played the state to get that $6 million by threatening to close. Although not mentioned in any article, I believe the EPA is forcing them to stop burning coal and is in a hurry for Kimberly-Clark to make the switch before Trump and Pruitt have their way and make coal burning okay again.

If $6 million from the state is what saved Kimberly-Clark from shutting down, it’s great that they got the grant. The fact they’re still coming up with $144 million to make the conversation tells me they were going to do it anyway, and if they were going to leave, the $6 million wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

But, that’s just me always trying to bring new light on stories that appear opaque due to a little coal dust in my eyes.