September 9, 2008

Grant to Aid Plastics Recycling Firm


The federal funds will help Watts and Adair County bring the plan to fruition.

WATTS -- The town of Watts and Adair County are recipients of a $900,000 federal grant for infrastructure improvements to accompany a new plastics recycling company that officials hope will employ more than 200 people.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., announced the grant from the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration on Tuesday.

Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies of Springdale, Ark., had planned to start construction in April and open by Oct. 31.

But the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality had not signed off on the project, and construction has not begun.

The company was required to obtain certain permits before the DEQ could issue a construction permit for the project, which would connect to the Watts wastewater system.

State law prohibits any new pollutants in the Illinois River basin because it is designated as an outstanding water resource. Stormwater runoff from the plant is a particular concern.

"We are still looking at it very closely to make sure there is absolutely no discharge into the Illinois River," said Ed Brocksmith, a co-founder of the group Save the Illinois River. "They still have a bunch of hoops to go through before this is a reality."

The company plans to retrofit the old Razorback Farms hog-farm facility to recycle polyethylene plastic, which is used in making "green" building materials.

The company's water-resistant, outdoor decking and fence systems are sold at home improvement stores.

The grant is for an industrial access road from Oklahoma 59 to the plant that would be owned and maintained by the county and town. In addition, Watts is building a sewer line from the plant to the town's sewage treatment facility.

The plant could bring about 265 jobs with an average wage of $14 an hour to the economically challenged area.

"This is an area of Adair County that typically doesn't see livable wages," said Joe Harrington, executive director of the Eastern Oklahoma Development District.

Susan Hylton 581-8381

[email protected]

Originally published by SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer.

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