More than 150 people gathered outside VNA’s hazardous waste treatment plant in Gum Springs, Arkansas, on Oct. 12 to mark the beginning of construction of a new state-of-the-art thermal hazardous waste treatment operation. The facility will set a new industry standard for protecting air quality and other natural resources.
“I believe that, once this new facility is completed in 2024, it will transform the hazardous waste industry so that people will think of it as ‘Before Gum Springs’ and ‘After Gum Springs,’” said Veolia North America President and CEO Fred Van Heems at the ceremonial groundbreaking. “This is an example of ecological transformation in action.”
Speaking before an enthusiastic audience that included Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and community leaders in the Gum Springs area, Fred said Veolia is investing significantly in the new project. He said the plant will include features not found at any other operation of its kind in the U.S., including a system for capturing waste heat to provide power for the plant, further reducing its environmental impact.
“Veolia is committed to solving great environmental challenges so we can leave a better planet for our children,” he said. Fred also announced a new scholarship fund for local high school seniors who plan to pursue majors in math, the sciences and engineering – prompting a standing ovation from the crowd.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Kevin Jester, Chair of the Arkadelphia Economic Development Corporation, who said Veolia's commitment to the project will bring prosperity to the community.
"Veolia is taking what we started here and taking this project to a whole new level, so that new generations of people can build roots here in Clark County. The ripple effects of this project are going to be felt in this county for many years to come,” he said.
Gov. Hutchinson also thanked Veolia for making a commitment to the state that will support jobs and economic growth as well as environmental innovation.
“It’s extraordinary what we’re seeing developing here in Clark County,” he said, adding that the benefits of the new facility are not only good for the economy and the environment, but also for national security. He pointed to Veolia’s handling of semi-conductor waste as a critical service for the U.S. The governor also praised VNA’s outstanding team of employees at the plant, who also attended the ceremony.
Some quick facts about the new facility: Job growth:
- Once completed in 2024, VNA will double the number of employees on site to more than 200.
- Investment in the community: The economic impact of the expansion and new construction is estimated at more than $1 billion over the first five years.
- Environmental preservation: The new facility will be outfitted with the most advanced technologies for capturing contaminants before they can be released into the air; the plant will also safely treat over 100,000 tons of waste materials per year that otherwise would pose a threat to the environment.
Check out media coverage of the groundbreaking that appeared on KATV-Little Rock.