WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Another fissure created by Newark data-center complex: U.D. faculty votes against it

No end to the divisions generated by that proposed data-center complex in south Newark.

The U.D. Faculty Senate has voted unanimously, 43-0, AGAINST the envisioned, 279-megawatt, gas-fired plant. Senators represent fulltime faculty from the university's seven academic colleges.

Senators note the chasm between the university and much of the surrounding community, and the conflict with the university's stated mission to enhance the quality of life for the people of Newark.

More tellingly, faculty senators fear the plant might create an industrial park - rather than a high-tech park - turning off would-be STAR tenants.

So the data-center complex has not only left Newark deeply divided - and fueled resentment between the university administration and many Newark residents - it leaves a deep divide between faculty and administration. It also pits organized labor/business interests against the wishes of many residents.

Of course, the Faculty Senate resolution is merely symbolic.

But the issue of this gas-fired power plant remains white hot in Newark, energizing passions even among some high school students. And as I've posted before, could the U.D. administration go much farther in alienating much of its host community?

Posted at 7:48am on May 6, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Tue, May 6, 2014 8:12am
"Alienating the host community?" Who cares? Newark is nothing without the university. If the city doesn't like it, the university can pack up and move back to New London.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, May 6, 2014 8:24am
Bill is correct. They used to call it UofD, now it's U.D., but whatever you call it, U.D. IS Newark. If U.D. were to decide to relocate to Middletown, Newark would then resemble an old rust-belt city in Ohio, Michigan, or Western PA.

Especially for Newark, and even Delaware to a lesser extent, U.D. is "too big to fail".

Tue, May 6, 2014 8:46am
Newark's hatred of the University goes back generations. I attended there, worked there for 17 years. But I was brought up with the hatred. Using the privilege of state, the UofD could take any property it wanted. Anywhere in the city. Of course, the owner would be paid, but if you like your house/property, you should be able to keep your house/property.

Under the current administration, the UofD is ticking off the football fans by offending long-time, season ticket holders. Now comes the power plant. The lack of respect the University has for Newark is always made clear. Yes, the city is dead without them. But, as someone who has to travel to a town just outside Philadelphia everyday because there are no jobs in Newark, I would not be sad if it simply vanished.

Tue, May 6, 2014 9:00am
Very little surprise the Progressive/Liberal Faculty at U.D. would vote against the power plant... maybe they should chain themselves in front of the project to show how serious they are and let them re-live their childhood...

If the plant does turn from Hi-Tech Park to an industrial park then I (and most Newark residents) would be against the power plant, but if it truly is what it's supposed to be, most local taxpayers probably support the project.

Tue, May 6, 2014 9:38am
Why not just use that big empty lot on Boxwood Road? There's no quality of life around there, and they would welcome some jobs.

Tue, May 6, 2014 10:28am
Correction... you said the data center has left Newark divided?

From whom is that information forthcoming?

Get some reporters on the ground in Newark. Here is how it stands. Those against the power plant are primarily residents. Those for the power plant are primarily outsiders....

In the town proper and outlying areas, the sentiment against the power plant is reflective in the vote you mention above. In ALL the public meetings, you had people from New Jersey and PA who were brought in to the public meeting to express the message of Investment and jobs, and you had all residents who made up the opposition, who were questioning how does this affect our health.

Since the elections last November, much more detail about the harm this plant would cause has managed to leak out. That new information has been disseminated across Newark and I would venture that now, close to 100% of Newark's citizens are now against it.....

Who wouldn't be against legislation that required you to hook-up toxins to your air conditioner so you'd breathe them 24/7? The state's own report itself shows that is what this power plant would do. It would create a cancer cluster in Newark with an extended plume that stretches northeast for 10 miles and stretches across downtown Wilmington. A cancer cluster, mind you. We are not just talking about Carbon Dioxide, though that is an important topic in itself.

If you notice, those including Rich Heffron have completely disappeared from exuding support for this issue. Everything has switched to being done in absolutely secrecy in order to move this project forward. In truth, they have no other choice. To have 100% of society against you is rather overwhelming...

So, check on that "divided" angle of the story....

Tue, May 6, 2014 10:33am
From whom? A press release. That's what passes for "reporters on the ground" in old media. And be careful about the questions you ask. Don't want to loose "access" (i.e., sound bites from a flack).

All you have to do is say "jobs" and the tea media roll over.

Tue, May 6, 2014 10:38am
Earl, most of those on the faculty would be shocked they were called Liberal-progressive. Most are rather conservatives...

What they are ... are local residents. You certainly wouldn't like to be forced to partake of a hookah made from carcinogenic materials...

Neither would they. With such a flip comment like yours, it is almost like you completely disregarded the reality of putting a dirty power plant in the middle of a residential city..

Like who does that? Where else has anyone ever tried that concept? Power plants, being dispensers of distillate vapors are always put out somewhere far, far, away where their poison supposedly wouldn't hurt anyone. In New York, they put them in Jersey so it wouldn't kill people that mattered. In Delaware, our refinery is on our border... with Jersey...

But in a town? Who is the absolute fool who thought of such an idea and who are those fools supporting him that think they can bamboozle the entire public to get approval?

Whomever it is. They are brash. They are stupid.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, May 6, 2014 10:59am
JimH: Well said.

Arthur: There are many homes very close to the old Boxwood Road G.M. plant, so quality of life there too would be an issue, but granted, they are working class families so no big deal, whereas that former Chrysler is rather close to Kent Way and those well to do Newarkers. If it's a quality of life issue in Newark [believe it is] then it is a quality-of-life issue for the Boxwood Road area too [I don't live in either place].

Why is it OK to mess up a working-class area with crap, but can't do that in the "better neighborhoods"?

I believe we could end much nonsense by proposing that any environmental, unsafe, dirty, noisy, street vendors selling stuff from a parked trailer on the curb in a neighborhood; street vendors selling stuff from traffic medians at traffic lights; homeless folks panhandling at traffic lights and parking lots; questionable morality venues [strip clubs, etc.,] be placed FIRST in Hockessin and Greenville. THEN, they could expand to the rest of our neighborhoods. I think you'd find that we'd see very little of any of that stuff then, but since none of that EVERY goes up there, those folks don't care.

Tue, May 6, 2014 11:08am
kavip: Sorry but the U.D. Faculty I have run into are NOT Conservatives... if they are your definition of a Conservative, then maybe they are also the same group you say inhale from the "hookah" (i.e., pot).

Tue, May 6, 2014 11:12am
kavips: You seem to be in the "know" on the pollutants from the new power plant in Newark... Do you know how the new pollution compares to what the Chrysler plant spewed into the environment for decades?

Tue, May 6, 2014 1:39pm
Oh my goodness. I do. The new data center would spew out toxins galore into the air, and the Chrysler plant buried theirs. That is the difference... Ironically, in an odd twist, both are related to lead.

Burying does not equate breathing.... and that could explain the different levels of tolerance. Plus the geography of the damage is far more expansive with the power plant...

Tue, May 6, 2014 1:44pm
Allan... for future trivia questions...


What is cool is to answer it, people can use their own memories ... I myself was fascinated by the oldest tallest building in a state.

Tue, May 6, 2014 1:46pm
Mike, the answer to your question can be summed up in one word: Money.

Tue, May 6, 2014 2:05pm
kavips: Can you post up the pollution numbers then?

I know that Chrysler thoroughly polluted the ground beneath the plant (and possibly Newark's water?), but I would also think all those stacks on the old plant released a lot of toxins into the environment too.

BTW, I'm not actually on the side of the power plant ...its proposed location never sounded like the best place to build one.

Tue, May 6, 2014 5:43pm
Of the top ten tallest-in-the-state buildings, seven are occupied by banks, one by an insurance company, one by an oil company, and one by Comcast.

Just so you know where your money goes.

On 09/11/2001, the World Trade Center was about half-occupied. The owners, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were never able to rent space successfully. So, of course, they went ahead and built another big building.

Skyscrapers are all about ego. They are not economically viable and generally cause nothing but problems. Why do companies insist on building them? Ask Dr. Freud.

Tue, May 6, 2014 8:22pm

Here are links to comparisons between Chrysler and TDC.




And I can't fault you for being for the TDC without knowing all the info. I was in that position myself, probably as late as last October... This is one case where facts and facts only caused me to change my mind. I have reason to believe that a lot of people signed on as being on board with this project before a lot of details were released. The emissions report filed with DNREC was the public's first insight into what was going to be coming out of that stack.

The hookah is a good analogy. With that, one can choose whether or not to participate. With this project, one is hooked in.

Tue, May 6, 2014 8:50pm
I saw this today, and since the data center often gets lumped with bad fracking, thought I'd show you the incidence of earthquakes in Oklahoma since fracking began in 2007.

The USGS put out an imminent earthquake alert for Oklahoma, today. The chart will explain why, which is the first time one has been set outside of California I believe, or maybe it was the West Coast.


Jay Livingston-Nichols
Tue, May 6, 2014 10:31pm
As long as U.D. has plenty of rich kids to fill the coffers, they can effectively keep any unwanted competition out of Newark and send it to Wilmington and beyond.

Tue, May 6, 2014 11:09pm
kavips: If those charts are true/accurate...the second one showing carcinogen numbers should sink the project.

Chrysler union workers weren't on strike in 2002/2005, were they?

Seemed like that plant was constantly on strike over the years.

Wed, May 7, 2014 4:18am
Earl. If you can click on the charts with very small writing, it magnifies to show the details per chemical per amount.

The difference between the 2002 and 2005 levels was that the new addition which had the smoke stacks you mentioned earlier, was operational. I believe, if I remember correctly, that was for painting, hence some of the chemicals were different than that which would be spewed by the data center.

Mike from Delaware
Wed, May 7, 2014 8:15am
J L-Nichols: Welcome. The other thing that helps the UofD is the state money all of use pay via taxes that they receive. Sure wish the state government had the "brass monkey's" to stop that payment, they surly don't need it. I'd divide that money and move it to both DelTech and Del State, both of those institutions are actually giving a higher education to Delawareans rather than mostly out of staters.

Wed, May 7, 2014 8:40am
Thanks kavips...I couldn't see the small chart information when I looked at them on my phone last night. If all that information is true (especially the carcinogen levels), this project should have been turned down cold.

And, I think you are correct about the newer stacks being for the painting process...it always smelled like paint when you passed by the plant via Rt. 4.

Wed, May 7, 2014 8:47am
MFD: The percentage of in-state students in U.D.'s freshman class is 35 percent. The percentage of acceptances is 66 percent (apparently some Delaware students get accepted, but opt to go out-of-state). For some reason, U.D. is not closing the deal with a lot of potential in-state students. Sounds like the better students use U.D. as their back-up school.

In contrast, the percentage of in-state freshmen at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (alma mater of you know whom) is 75 per cent.

U.D. is something of a hybrid. Private college with land-grant schools attached (Cornell is the same way). Public money does not go equally to all schools within the university. And the state provides less than 12 percent of U.D. funding (and the amount keeps dropping). That's why higher education has become so costly in recent decades and why new graduates find themselves saddled with a lifetime of debt (and often not the jobs they believed a higher education would make possible).

Wed, Jun 11, 2014 4:01pm
Note that the anti-data center group's chart showing the CHP facility producing more pollution cherry-picks 2002 and 2005 Chrysler production years to compare against the Data Center while the Environmental Engineering Firm Duffield Associates shows the Data Center CHP (Combined Heat & Power) facility will will produce only 12% of Chrysler's emmissions based on Chrysler production years 1995-2008. Duffield's analysis seems much more honest than cherry-picking production years that were less productive than previous years.

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