Opinion: Battery recycling part of building green economy

Your Turn
Linda Jackson and Cheryl Chapman
Guest columnist
May 17, 2020. Press & Sun Bulletin, Binghamton NY, page 10A

 


 

In September of 2018, Empire State Development (ESD) announced that a battery recycling facility would be locating in the Village of Endicott, as part of a green jobs initiative.

 

ESD had recruited SungEel HiTech to Endicott to work with Binghamton University’s battery research team, headed up by Nobel laureate Stanley Whittingham, and iMperium3, the new battery manufacturing plant going into Huron Campus.

 

We were not initially in favor of this project, having heard about the potential negative impacts on the environment. After everything the village has been through over the years, the last thing we wanted was to risk the health and safety of village residents. But we decided to do our homework and to get all of the facts and data we could.

 

We attended workshops, public meetings and reviewed numerous documents from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). We participated in the public comment process and met with state elected leaders, county officials, and representatives of ESD, DEC and SungEel. We learned that the plant did not even need to receive a state facility permit to operate because of the low air emissions projected, but the DEC took that extra step. Information about their thorough findings can be found on the village website, endicottny.com.

 

The vote taken last Thursday by the board has NO impact on whether the battery recycling facility will be allowed to operate in the Village of Endicott. The DEC has already issued a state facility permit.

 

This zoning code change was meant to clarify and add restrictions to protect the village, for all current and future recycling facilities that intend to operate in our Industrial Zone. There is currently a petition circulating in an attempt to revisit the passage of Thursday’s zoning change; the only thing this petition, and the misinformed group behind it, can accomplish is to defeat the additional protections we are putting in place.

 

This continues to be viewed favorably by all of the partners. There was nothing controversial about this when it was announced, nor through the DEC review process. According Dr. Whittingham, “the recycling of lithium batteries is critical to a sustainable world. Responsible battery recycling will help to minimize fires such as what recently occurred in Apalachin, and reduce disposal in county dumps. SungEel’s approach to recycling is what we would describe as brute force — they turn all the metals in a metal rich ore that will go to the powder manufacturers for future use. It is a sound approach that DEC has approved.”

 

Dr. Shailesh Upreti, chairman and director of iMperium3, added, “in order for us to convert Endicott into a next generation manufacturing hub and a community of green visionaries, we must support companies that are bringing cutting edge processes to this region.”

 

We agree with these distinguished scientists and are proud to be a part of building a new green economy in Endicott.

 

Linda Jackson is the mayor of the Village of Endicott, and Cheryl Chapman is the deputy mayor.

 

 

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