Article featured on LancasterOnline.
Seven, sometimes controversial, years in the making, a $60 million soybean-processing plant will open Monday in Conoy Township.
Gov. Tom Wolf, state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Perdue Farms chairman Jim Perdue are among those planning to attend the official opening of the facility owned by Perdue AgriBusiness of Salisbury, Maryland.
Also part of the festivities: the first truck of soybeans delivered from a farmer in the area.
The ceremony is not open to the general public.
It will be Pennsylvania’s first soybean-processing facility, which Perdue has long touted as a boon to farmers from Lancaster County and the region, saving them transportation costs.
Leftover meal from the process of extracting liquid from soybeans will be sold as a livestock feed.
Perdue currently has soybean-processing facilities in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.
The plant has received strong endorsement from local agriculture and business groups.
Redding last year hailed the plant as an incentive for farmers in the region to grow more soybeans, creating new markets and keeping agriculture in the state competitive.
The state gave Perdue an $8.7 million grant to build the plant in Pennsylvania.
With processed water coming from the adjacent county incinerator, as well as steam, Perdue AgriBusiness has said the plant would be the most environmentally friendly soybean plant in the country.
“We’re thrilled that Perdue chose the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority to partner on this project,” said James Warner, authority chief executive officer. “It’s been a pleasure to work with such a well-respected and reputable company. We look forward to celebrating the positive impact this project will have on Lancaster County’s agriculture community.”
But some residents, especially across the Susquehanna in Hellam Township in York County, bitterly fought the plant, saying it would add pollution to an area already with severe air pollution problems.
Residents wanted Perdue to install a device that would reduce emissions of hexane, a hazardous air pollutant and precursor of smog.
But Perdue rejected the idea, saying it was too costly for only a modest reduction in emissions and presented a fire hazard. Perdue said the Conoy Township facility would have the lowest rate of hexane emissions of any soybean-processing plant in the United States.
After a five-year challenge by opponents that resulted in multiple hearings in Lancaster and York counties, the state Department of Environmental Protection approved an air quality permit for Perdue in May 2016.
A subsequent appeal of the permit before the Environmental Hearing Board is still waiting a decision.
The new plant will have 35 permanent employees. Perdue said its construction generated 150 jobs and the plant will spawn 500 jobs in crop production and transportation.