As demolition work continues at the former GM Boxwood plant, it is worth noting that a familiar cast of characters has reemerged for a sequel.
I’m not talking about the Avengers Endgame movie chronicling their efforts to save the universe.
This time around it’s the no power plant folks who rose up against a project that would have combined a natural gas-powered power plant and a data center on the University of Delaware STAR Campus.
UD later pulled the plug on the effort.
The no power plant avengers engaged in a largely fact-free effort aimed at scaring neighbors, compete with Marvel comic-style scenarios of steam from the power plant changing the climate around Newark and the prospect of bone-rattling sounds from gas-powered generators.
It was also claimed that burly construction workers who would converge on the STAR Campus threatened the safety of female college students.
Organized labor harshly criticized the no power plant leaders. After all, there appeared to be racial overtones in remarks on student safety and construction workers.
Fast forward to 2019 and the no power plant leaders appear to have struck up an odd alliance with the Delaware AFL-CIO in a dispute over hiring of workers at the site.
It gets a little hazy, but allegations center over handling of asbestos at the site and unverified claims that the mineral is threatening the nearby neighborhood.
The developer of the project, Harvey, Hanna, ordered readings of asbestos at the property line to determine whether anything is wafting over to nearby areas.
So far, the numbers remain well below federal limits. It is also worth noting that federal regulations do not require asbestos monitoring outside demolition sites.
Meanwhile, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is looking into the issue.
Clearly upset are some neighbors, a few of whom were perfectly satisfied with living near a weedy, abandoned auto plant site undergoing an environmental clean-up that goes far beyond asbestos removal.
The good news is that demolition will continue, barring a surprise discovery that backs up claims of critics.
While Delaware will lose a piece of its industrial heritage, the next phase of this project will bring construction, logistics, and other jobs.
Rest assured avenging no power plant folks – the universe around Newport is not in any danger.
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