“Why should we sell to you when you commodify a human right?”
That was just one of dozens of questions representatives from Nestle Waters fielded during an information session Monday night on the water bottling facility the company is looking into building in Spring or Benner township in Centre County.
Others focused on the environment, jobs and the company’s track record.
Nestle points to the positive economic impact the $50 million facility would have on the area. That includes 50 well-paying jobs at the bottling plant, along with tax revenues.
Eric Andreus, Nestle’s natural resource manager for the mid-Atlantic, was one of those answering questions.
“I think as we get the facts out about our proposed project, more people will recognize that there’s a significant economic opportunity for the area in the creation of jobs, with no impact on the environmental resource,” Andreus said.
But many in attendance seemed skeptical.
Courtney Morris of Pleasant Gap was one of about 400 people who filled the meeting held at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology. She’s worried about long-term environmental impact, Nestle’s track record and a lack of transparency in the process.
“Unfortunately our water authority and board of supervisors have not been particularly forthcoming with information about the nature of the agreement beyond how much water they’ll be extracting, what the long-term environmental impacts will be, and whether or not we have any say in the process as consumers and residents of Spring Township," Morris said. "For me, it’s really very worrying.”
Several community groups will hold a “No to Nestle forum” Wednesday. Andreus said it’s to be determined whether a company representative will be at that meeting.