About 70 protesters gathered along Wissahickon and Roberts avenues recently to rally against SEPTA’s proposed natural gas plant in the Nicetown neighborhood.

“What do we want? Clean air,” they chanted. “When do we want it? Now!”

Cheryl Edwards has lived in the Nicetown area since 1983 and attended the protest, which was organized by Neighbors Against Gas Plants and State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood’s office. The rally occurred in front of the proposed plant site.

“I’ve been living in this community for over 30 years and we have a lot of elder people living in this area and a school up the street and they want to build a gas plant,” she said.

SEPTA plans to build the natural gas plant on its Midvale Bus Facility site. Across the street is the Philly Salvation Army Kroc Center, which caters to 7,000 active members and up to 4,000 walk-ins a month. The Wissahickon Charter School’s Fernhill Campus is also adjacent to the proposed location.

SEPTA officials were unavailable to comment.

“The reason we’re here today is because this is environmental racism. Nicetown is predominately Black residents,” said Darisha Parker, spokesperson for Youngblood. “The power plant would not reside in Chestnut Hill, Society Hill, Rittenhouse Square or East or West Mount Airy. We’re gathered here this evening to send a message to L&I [the Department of Licenses and Inspections] to say no to SEPTA power plant.”

Eighty-five percent of the planning and approval for the plant is complete.

Ten-thousand people live within a one-mile radius of the proposed plant and over 2,500 children and infants may be affected by health issues, according to its opponents.

“We’re expecting a verdict from the L&I review board about our appeals case that went on for 18 months and it’s going to happen sometime in July,” said Lynn Robinson, organizer of the protest and member of Neighbors Against Gas Plants.

“We want L&I to know that we are still involved and care very much. The problem is the air pollution that will come out of the plant. This area is the most humid and the most polluted.”

Contact Johann Calhoun at newseditor@phillytrib.com or call at (215) 893-5739

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