ENDICOTT, NY – A proposed lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Endicott has received a key permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation.
A proposal by SungEel MCC Americas would set up the operation in 2 former IBM buildings on the Huron Campus.
One structure would be used for storing the old batteries and the other would be for breaking them down into their component parts.
This latest DEC permit finds that air emissions from the process would be within acceptable limits.
Local environmental activist William Huston of Concerned Citizens of Endicott believes the plant could pose a danger to nearby residents.
“We had a series of spills, toxic chemical spills, that occurred here starting in the 1970’s. The DEC didn’t protect us. We have a history of the DEC not protecting us here. So, I’m skeptical of anything the DEC says about the safety of putting known carcinogens into a village that has a 40 year history of toxic contamination and a known cancer cluster according to the NIOSH survey,” says Huston.
Mayor Linda Jackson says she was skeptical of the proposal at first, but says she has found SungEel MCC to be very forthcoming with their plans and processes.
Jackson says she come to find out that the plant will not be operated as an incinerator, as there will be no open flame or burning.
Instead, the batteries will essentially be baked in a kiln.
And as for the fact that lithium-ion batteries, which power smart phones, laptops, hover boards and other electronics, are known for occasionally overheating and starting fires, Jackson says the batteries will all be discharged first in a safe storage area, eliminating the possibility of spontaneous combustion.
Jackson says her team isn’t just relying on what SungEel told them.
“We went to outside sources. This company is legitimate. We have bothered to do our due diligence. And it does fit what we want in that industry. I have looked at the code and I’m having our lawyer go through it with a fine tooth comb to make sure that we do everything that we do everything that we’re supposed to. If we need to change things a little bit, we just might do that because this company has proved that it’s safe,” says Jackson.
Jackson says she still has some questions about the air emissions so the village is hiring an environmental specialist to review that aspect of the permitting.
And she working to arrange for a virtual online public hearing so that residents can have all of their questions answered.
Jackson says there are still some zoning questions to be ironed out.
Questions submitted to SungEel’s website did not receive a reply.
You can watch my entire interview with Mayor Jackson at here.