Norfolk Southern Corp. has crossed the Enola freight yards in East Pennsboro Twp. off its list of potential sites for a wind turbine.
The reason has a lot to do with nearby Wade Island in the Susquehanna River, a legally protected bird sanctuary for great egrets.
“We heard the concerns expressed about the proximity of the bird sanctuary,” Norfolk Southern spokesman Rudy Husband said. “We will look elsewhere in our 22-state network.”
In December, the railroad said it was considering building a wind turbine to provide electricity for a new wastewater treatment plant in the Enola freight yards, just as it was already doing in a freight yard in Bellevue, Ohio. Husband said no studies had been done, so specifics hadn’t been prepared for the local site.
Kim Van Fleet, Audubon Pennsylvania’s coordinator of important bird areas, praised Norfolk Southern’s decision not to build at Enola.
“They should be commended for making the right decision and putting the birds first,” she said. “It would have threatened an endangered species.”
Wade Island is the closest island to the Interstate 81 bridge in the group of small islands between McCormicks Island and the West Shore.
Terry L. Master, an East Stroudsburg University biology professor, has described Wade Island as the only colony of great egrets in the state. He couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
He has said great egrets – large, long-legged white birds – typically fly south in the morning along the West Shore to feed around the Sheets Islands near the M. Harvey Taylor Bridge or in the Conodoguinet Creek. Those routes would have taken them close to the wind turbine.
Robert Gill, the East Pennsboro Twp. manager, said he was “a little disappointed” that Norfolk Southern had decided not to build the wind turbine.
“I thought it had a lot of potential,” he said. “They’re a good employer here and wanted to work together.”
By David DeKok
29 January 2008
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