Letter: Past pollution shows how vulnerable Endicott is

By Terri Farrelll, Guest Columnist
November 22, 2020
Press and Sun-Bulletin, Binghamton NY, page 13A.

I would like an opportunity to address the SungEel Americas MCC firstof- its-kind lithium-ion battery recycling plant being proposed in Endicott.

Our teams have worked with scientists, legal experts, and many professional agencies and affiliations, diligently for several months in the goal to achieve a proper Type 1, State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) and a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required by law. This proposal was misclassified as an unlisted action, and the processes of incineration, possible safety hazards, transportation and storage issues, that were not originally addressed by the Department of Environmental Conservation, should have alerted a complete countywide regional impact statement.

In the late 1980’s, I was studying nutrition and worked as a cooperative employee in Building 18, the former International Business Machines (IBM) and current Huron Campus. The Village of Endicott was prospering with job opportunities and economic growth.

Our local businesses were thriving, and Washington Avenue was the main shopping district for Endicott at that time.

IBM offered incentives to hundreds of employees who worked there and was hailed as one of the most stable and secure employers in Broome County.

Within six months, there were stories about the toxic spill, and the chemicals we were working with in the manufacturing of printed circuit boards, mainly trichloroethylene (TCE), were making employees sick. Many people, both working at IBM and living in the plume, were at greater risks of illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, multiple chemical sensitivities and birth defects. It was very noticeable that declining property values were impacting Endicott’s oncethriving community, and at the same time, businesses were leaving the area, including IBM.

Eventually, the chemicals were making me sick also.

Wanting to understand the relationship between chemical exposures in our environment and impacts to public health, I changed my degree to Environmental Science Policy and Management, and earned my bachelors’ degree at the SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry School in Syracuse, with a second degree in watershed hydrology. I have been actively working at a state level with the Health Department and Bureau Supply of Water Protection on the current water infrastructure and emergent contaminates issues in Endicott.

In March, I was asked to join the group NoBurnBroome, with the understanding that my education, background and personal experiences with chemicals in our environment would be an asset to our team. The groups in support of the battery recycling plant have been using unnecessary slander, defamatory comments and inaccurate statements toward the group with no basis of science or factual evidence that it is safe.

The issues with the contamination from decades of industrial pollution disposal from companies like Endicott Johnson (EJ) and IBM significantly underscore how fragile Endicott and surrounding communities truly are.

Pollution is a global concern. We need to answer these important questions.

What have we learned from the decades of industrial pollution and threats to public health? The health and safety of our residents are being compromised. Is Endicott learning from our past mistakes to protect our future?

Terri Farrell is an Endicott resident.

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