Letter to NYS DEC Commissioner and the President & CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation

May 28, 2020

Basil Seggos, Commissioner
NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, New York 12233

President and CEO Eric Gertler
Empire State Development Corporation
633 3rd Ave – 37th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Dear Commissioner Seggos and President Gertler:

We write to express our serious concern about the proposed Lithium Battery Recycling plant proposed by SungEel MCC Americas LLC (SungEel) in Endicott, Broome County, New York. We urge you to reverse this rush to burn toxic batteries in upstate New York.

None of us are opposed to the idea of recycling but this is a recycling facility with a major difference. Central to the recovery of valuable (and strategic) metals is a rotary kiln operating at 600 degrees Celsius. This serves the purpose of separating out the metals from the non-metallic components. The latter (including plastics, electrolytes and binders) are gasified and the resulting gases are burned in an afterburner at 800 degrees Celsius, and from there, after some air pollution control, go into the air. In other words, the company gets the valuable metals which will be sent to South Korea and the community is left with the toxic air pollutants which will include hydrogen fluoride, hundreds of fluorinated organic compounds (including PFAS), nanoparticles and at least four carcinogens (formaldehyde, beryllium, chromium VI and dioxins). Neither PFAS nor other fluorinated byproducts were considered in the DEC air permit.

This facility would operate in very close proximity to schools, ballfields used by many children and in the heart of a residential neighborhood. People literally live across the street from the plant. (see the photos at NoBurnBroome.com).

Requests:

The State through DEC should require a full environmental review of what amounts to an incinerator (greenwashed as a recycling plant).   We appreciate that the DEC re-opened the air permit on May 20, 2020 because of concerns about potentially burning batteries that contain PFAS.   Thank you. The company has proposed using a wet scrubber, and the DEC now needs to also re-open the water permit.

DEC should conduct a virtual public hearing so that the affected public and independent experts can be heard on these matters.

DEC has not required a full State Environmental Quality Review Act review of this project and its new technology. DEC issued a Negative Declaration for the project, failing to require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.  This technology has never been utilized in New York and needs to be put under the microscope.   DEC also approved the project even before it was properly zoned.

We also request that the $1.75 million public subsidy provided to this project by the New York Empire State Development Corporation be rescinded.  Since ESDC made this decision, New York has been devastated by the impacts of Covid-19.  Public funds need to be invested in health care, education, public safety.  This is not the moment for the state to be subsidizing operations of this facility or its multinational parent company based in South Korea.

Troubling Background:

SungEel intends to handle one ton of batteries an hour, operating for 12 hours a day for five days a week. The used lithium-ion batteries would be discharged and dismantled and fed into a rotary kiln and afterburner as described above.  While the gases and particulates will then pass through a waste heat boiler, a heat exchanger, a baghouse, and a wet scrubber before being released through a smokestack, as we all know, not all the contaminants are removed from these processes. Nor can we assume that they will operate properly all the time. There is no fail-safe if things go wrong.

The SungEel facility in South Korea has a 500- foot stack with the nearest community about 3 miles away. The one proposed in Endicott will have a 111- foot stack, in a hilly terrain meaning the air emissions would more negatively impact nearby residents.  There is no other facility like this one in the United States. Large quantities of hydrogen fluoride will be generated putting at risk the workers in the plant if there are any leaks in the system.

Many of us know Endicott, New York from the toxic legacy left behind by IBM.  Countless families were devastated by the pollution left by IBM.   We cannot let history repeat itself. The residents of the Southern Tier deserve clean air and not another toxic facility that threatens their health and their economic future. The facility will provide no tax revenue and create very few jobs.

Finally, there are safer ways of recycling lithium-ion batteries which do not involve burning: These are called hydro-metallurgical processes involving fairly mild chemicals in closed-loop systems.

We request a zoom meeting or conference call at your earliest convenience to discuss these concerns.   Please have your staff contact MaryAnn Dorner at 607 754 4236 or Maryannlovesteaching@yahoo.com to arrange a date and time. Thank you very much.

This statement was signed by individuals in leadership positions from the following environmental and other groups from NY State, other states in the USA and from other countries.

Sincerely,

New York

Andra Leimanis, Alliance for a Green Economy, Syracuse, NY

Paul Connett, American Environmental Health Studies Project, Inc, Binghamton, NY

Doug Miller, Beloved Earth Community Riverside Church, Bronx NY

Rev. Dr. Alan Bentz-Letts, Beloved Earth Community of The Riverside Church, NY, NY

Judith Enck, Beyond Plastics, Poestenkill, NY

Justin Green, Big Reuse, Brooklyn, NY

Amy Liang, Binghamton NYPIRG, Binghamton, NY

Jennifer Scarlott, Bronx Climate Justice North, Bronx NY

Sara Gronim, 350Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY

Charlotte Phillips, M.D., Brooklyn For Peace, Brooklyn, NY

Rick Sprout, Broome Tioga Green Party, Binghamton, NY

Mary Smith, Church Women United in NY State, Rochester, NY

Tracy Frisch, Clean Air Action Network of Glens Falls, Glens Falls ,NY

Judith K. Canepa, Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline, NY

Maura Stephens, Coalition to Protect NY, Tioga County, NY

Cheryl Frank, ColorBrightonGreen,  Rochester, NY

William Huston, Concerned Citizens of Endicott, NY

Joan Koster, Concerned Citizens of Rural Broome, Triangle, NY

Mike Bucci, Deep Green Resistance, NY, NY

Kathleen Deignan, CND, PhD, Deignan Institute for Earth and Spirit, New Rochelle, NY

Charley Bowman, Environmental Justice Task Force of the WNY Peace Center, Buffalo, NY

Carol Sandy Przybylak, Erie County Green Party, Buffalo, NY

Diana Wright,  Foodscraps360.com, LLC, Albany, NY

Irene Weiser, Fossil Free Tompkins, Ithaca, NY

Mary T. Finneran, FrackBustersNY, Cairo, NY

Gary Lessard, Gary Lessard consulting, Schenectady, NY

Yvonne Taylor, Gas Free Seneca, Watkins Glen, NY

Orin Langelle, Global Justice Ecology Project, Buffalo, NY

Patricia Wood, Grassroots Environmental Education, Port Washington, NY

Mark Dunlea, Green Education and Legal Fund, Poestenkill, NY

Daniella Liebling, Green Party of Brooklyn, NY

Joseph Naham, Green Party of Nassau County, Long Beach, NY

Manna Jo Greene, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc., Beacon, NY

Barbara Kidney, Hudson Valley Green Party, Pine Bush, NY

Karen MacWatters, Indivisible 518: Justice for All, Niskayuna, NY

Alice Slater, Manhattan Project for a Nuclear Free Word, NY, NY

Katherine C. Bini, Metro N.Y. Catholic Climate Movementm, NY, NY

Leslie Sweeney, Mothers out Front Dutchess County, NY

Jerry Rivers, North American Climate, Conservation and Environment (NACCE), Roosevelt ,NY

Jennifer Scarlott, North Bronx Racial Justice, NY

Judith K. Canepa, NY Climate Action Group, NY, NY

Jill McManus, NYC Grassroots Alliance, NY, NY

Elizabeth Moran, NYPIRG, Albany NY

Diana Wright, PAUSE – People of Albany United for Safe Energy, Albany, NY

Doug Couchon, People for a Healthy Environment, Elmira, NY

Nancy Romer, Peoples Climate Movement-NY, NY

Peter Hudiburg, Plymouth Friends for Clean Water, South Plymouth, NY

R. Lemonik, Putnam Progressives, Mahopac, NY

Kristin Norderval, Reduta Deux, NY

Gerri Wiley, Residents Allied for the Future of Tioga (RAFT), Owego, NY

Gail Musante, Sanford-Oquaga Area Concerned Citizens (S-OACC), Deposit, NY

Joseph Campbell, Seneca Lake Guardian, Watkins Glen, NY

Catherine Skopic, Shut Down Indian Point Now, NY, NY

Teresa Kotturan, Sisters of Charity Federation, NY

Sr. Joan Agro, O.P., Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt, NY

Eileen Mary McCann, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet: Albany Province, Latham, NY

Phyllis Tierney, Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester Justice & Peace Office, Rochester, NY

Mazeda Uddin, South Asian Fund For Education, Scholarship and Training (SAFEST), NY

Michaela Czerkies, Syracuse Peace Council, Syracuse, NY

Kevin Cawley, Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY

Ana Baptista, Tishman Environment & Design Center, NY

Lisa Adamson, Tricounty NY Transition, Lake George, NY

Edith Kantrowitz, United for Action, Brooklyn, NY

Philip Kraft, Vestal Residents for Safe Energy, Vestal, NY

David Siffert, Village Independent Democrats, NY

Jack W. Kanack, Weather Medic Inc, North Tonawanda, NY

Terri Thal, West Branch Conservation Association, New City, NY

Catherine Cavanaugh, Women Against War, Albany ,NY

Other States

Mike Ewall, Esq., Energy Justice Network, Philadelphia, PA

James M Contois, ABetterClaremont, Claremont, NH

Rebecca B MacKenzie, Action Collaborative for the Transforming Spirit Now, Claremont, NH

Myrna Conty, Amigos del Río Guaynabo, Guaynabo, PR

Kt Andresky, Breathe Free Detroit, Detroit, MI

Jane Williams, California Communities Against Toxics, Rosamond, CA

Laura Olah, Executive Director, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB.org), Merrimac, WI

Dean Hoegger, Clean Water Action Co, Green Bay, WI

Myrna Conty, Coalicion Organizaciones Anti Incineracion, Arecibo, PR

Felipe Aguirre, Comité Pro Uno, Maywood, CA

Armando Nieto, Community Food and Justice Coalition, Oakland, CA

Margaret E. Sheehan, Esq., EcoLaw, Lyme, NH

Angel González, MD, Environmental and Health Committee PR College of Physicians, San Juan, PR

Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, Environmental Health Consultant, Rodeo, CA

John Richard, Essential Information, Washington, DC

Gary Liss, Gary Liss & Associates, Loomis, CA

Bradley Angel, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, San Francisco, CA

Neil Seldman, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Washington, DC

Craig William, Kentucky Environmental Foundation, Berea, KY

Nancy Hone, Neighbors Against the Burner, St. Paul, MN

Carol Gay, NJ State Industrial Union Council, Brick, NJ

Philip Landrigan, MD, Boston, MA

Susan Hubbard, Nothing Left to Waste, Saint Paul, MN

Timothy Judson, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Takoma Park, MD

Sally Jane Gellert, Occupy Bergen County, Woodcliff Lake, NJ

Daniel Knapp, PhD, CEO, Urban Ore, Inc., Richmond, CA

A Gonzalez MD, Vecinos Opuestos al Incinerador de Guaynabo, Guaynabo, PR

Charlene Lemoine, Waukesha County Environmental Action League (WI), Waukesha, WI

Rose Reinders, WEAL, New Berlin, Wi

Katie Lajoie, Working on Waste, Claremont, NH

Eric Lombardi, Zero Waste Strategies Inc., Boulder, CO

Ruth Abbe, Zero Waste USA, Petaluma CA

International

Larisa de Orbe, Academia Mexicana de Derecho Ambiental, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico

Betsy Margot Ojeda Fuentes, Alianza Basura Cero Chile, Santiago de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Helen Townsend, Aotearoa Plastic Pollution Alliance, Christchurch, NZ

Subash Chandra Biswas, ASD-Bangladesh (Association for Sustainable Development, Magura, Bangladesh

Jeffer Castelo Branco, Associação de Combate aos Poluentes (ACPO), Santos São Paulo, Brazil

Gabriel Sánchez Valverde, Barriopolis y Tepito Recicla Conciencias-Tepito Sustenta Comunidades, Mexico

Silvana Buján, BIOS ARGENTINA, Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Pat Geoghegan, Cappagh Farmers Support Group, Limerick, Ireland

Linda Fitzpatrick, CHASE, Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment, Cork, Ireland

Vamsi Kapilavai, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Cecilia Bianco, Coalición Ciudadana Antiincineración, Rosario, Argentina

Manuel Rojo, Colectivo VientoSur Santiago de Chile, Región Metropolitana, Chile

Mageswari Sangaralingam, Consumers’ Association of Penang, Penang, Malaysia

Derry Chambers, Cork Environmental Alliance Ltd., Cork, Ireland

Kerry Meydam, Durham Environment Watch, Courtice, Ontario, Canada

Luis Tuninetti, Eco Sitio, Villa María, Cordoba, Spain

Eco-Accord, Eco-Accord Centre on Environment and Sustainable Development, Moscow, Russia

Alejandra Parra Muñoz, Environmental Rights Action Network, Temuco, Chile

Ubrei-Joe Maimoni Mariere, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Benin City, Edo, Nigeria

Marisa Jacott, Fronteras Comunes – GAIA, México BJ, Mexico

Macarena Guajardo, Fundacion Basura, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile

María José García Bellalta, Fundación El Árbol, Concepción, Biobío, Chile

Niven Reddy, GAIA Africa, Durban, South Africa

Angelina P Galang, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, Quezon City, Philippines

Okotie Weyinmi, Green Knowledge Foundation, Warri, Delta, Nigeria

Angus Ho, Greeners Action, Hong Kong, China

Musa Chamane, Groundwork, Pietermaritzburg KZN, South Africa

Aldrin Calixte, Haiti Survie, Port au Prince, Haiti

HEJSupport, Health and Environment Justice Support, Munich, Germany

Abu Imam Md. Baker, Integrated Social & Agriculture Development Organization (ISADO), Magura, Bangladesh

Anant Trivedi, Ishwar Nagar RWA, New Delhi, India

Raomir Manzanarez, Jóvenes Ambientalistas Nicaragua, Managua, Nicaragua

Sonia S Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation Philippines, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Fernando Bejarano G, Pesticide Action Network in Mexico (RAPAM), Texcoco, Mexico

Jose Luis Conejero, Plataforma antiincineración de Montcada, Montcada i Reixac, Spain

Gabriela Baeza, Proyecto Cero Basura, Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal, Mexico

Alejandra Parra Muñoz, Red de Acción por los Derechos Ambientales, Temuco, Chile

Mariela Pino, RedBioLAC, Santiago RM, Chile

Mageswari Sangaralingam, Sahabat Alam (Friends of the Earth) Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia

Sasanka Dev, Society for Direct Initiative for Social and Health Action (DISHA), Kolkata, India

Paweł Głuszyński, Society for Earth, Kraków, Poland

Desmond D’Sa, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, Durban, South Africa

Sergio Rinaldi, Taller de Comunicación Ambiental (Rosario), Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina

Cecilia Bianco, Taller Ecologista, Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina

Zuleica Nycz, Toxisphera Environmental Health Association, Curitiba, Brazil

Shlomo Dowen, United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN), Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, UK

Keith Roman, Wellington Association Against the Incinerator, Cape Town, Cape Winelands District, South Africa

Mrs. Kalyani Rani Biswas, Women & Child Development Organization (APARAJITA), Magura, Bangladesh

Linda Gasser, Zero Waste 4 Zero Burning, Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Jane Bremmer, Zero Waste Australia, Perth, Australia

Jamie Kaminski, Zero Waste Canada, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

Enzo Favoino, Zero Waste Europe, Brusels, Belgium

Malcolm Williams, Zero Waste International Trust, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Rossano Ercolini, Zero Waste Italy, Capannori, Italy

Elena Rastei, Zero Waste Romania, Bucharest, Romania

Denise Patel, GAIA, Global Alliance for Incineration Alternatives


 

 

 

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