Retired Special Projects Engineer for
Health Care Products Company for 40 years
(but from Northumberland County)
Community Group Name:
Organizations United for the Environment
Largest hazardous waste incinerator east of the Mississippi being proposed
to go in Union County PA
Year(s) story takes Place:
Union Pacific was proposing an incinerator- they bought 800 acres- and the citizens did not know anything about it until the last minute. Everything was done undercover. The community found out just 2-3 months before ground was to be broken.
The community held it off for 4 years and eventually won.
Regularly 1000 people would show up for events/actions.
In the 1940s the government had come in and bought over 3000 acres in Lycoming & Union Counties. People were told they had one month to get out. It was a case of Eminent Domain. There were 209 properties seized. The town was called Elvira.
The purpose was to build munitions for the war (WWII).
All the houses were torn down and the town was torn down (businesses & homes).
Government used the facility to build TNT for 1.5 years. Then shut it down and buried everything, with pipes leading to the river to drain all excess fluids.
(There are still bunkers on the property, which is now owned by Allenwood Prison)
In the 70s there was a threat of the Lycoming Landfill- and that is when the OUE was developed. That landfill facility- small contingency fought but lost…
But for the incinerator- the main reason they won is because they did “uncivil protests.” The org would run officials out of meetings. They would go to the homes of people who worked for Union Pacific- circle their homes for hours- with 30-40 cars. They went to their home towns and distributed pamphlets about the individuals on the UP board- roadblock areas- had signs on every major highway.
The UP took legal action against OUE.
The workers had to have people follow them around for safety-
The people of Elvira were tired of being pushed around.
After that was over in ’94- kept the group kept working over years- fought two more incinerators- and won. Fought corporate farms from being built- and they won some and lost some. The OUE was a place people could go to talk about how the government was limiting their rights and their voices. They created a newsletter that went out 3X a year- and that is how they created their money.
(8 pages long- with all the stories of updates).
PACRN is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to helping Pennsylvania communities establish local self-governance, social justice,