Questions about Lithium Incinerator Proposal

154 Environmental Groups From Around the World Raise Serious Concerns About Proposed Lithium Battery Incinerator Proposed in Endicott, New York

Endicott group is calling on the Cuomo Administration to Withdraw Its $1.75 Million Taxpayer Subsidy and Require a Full Environmental Impact Statement

154 organizations, including 82 from New York, have sent a letter to New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos, calling on the DEC to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed lithium battery incinerator proposed in Endicott, New York. DEC announced last week that it was re-opening the air permit process for the facility after realizing that the plant may be burning batteries that contain the toxic chemicals, PFAS.

DEC has issued a negative declaration for the facility, saying that it did not have to do an Environmental Impact Statement. Only one other facility of its kind exists, located in South Korea.

SungEel, an LLC with a sister company in South Korea has proposed building an incineration and processing facility which would handle 12 tons of lithium-ion batteries each day. The facility is near homes, recreational facilities and a public school, where there is a history of soil and groundwater contamination and negative health impacts from prior activities at the exact same site.

Paul Connett, PhD, Science spokesperson for the No Burn Broome group says, “Considering the prior pollution of this community by IBM, the location of this dangerous project is immoral. The DEC’s reliance on SungEel for the emissions information — without any third -party checking is unscientific. Now that we have done our own calculations we have found that the DEC Air permit underestimated emissions of both dioxins and hydrogen fluoride, not to mention their failure to understand that PFAS are present in some batteries and their failure to acknowledge the issue of nanoparticle emissions.”

The organizations which sent the letter to the Cuomo Administration support recycling, but point out that this project, while recovering metals, involves two dangerous steps. The operation will involve heating dismantled lithium-ion battery cells in a rotary kiln operating at 600 degrees C, followed by an afterburner operating at 800 degrees C or hotter. This would be the first of its kind operation in the United States.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has already approved an air permit which would allow the company to emit 4 human carcinogens into the air: dioxin, chromium-6, formaldehyde and beryllium. In late March 2020 DEC air permit was issued before a local zoning change was approved. On May 20, 2020, the DEC re-opened the air toxics permit because the agency said they just recently learned that some lithium-ion batteries may contain PFAS chemicals.

After the incineration process, “rare earth minerals” will be collected from the ash in the baghouse and shipped to South Korea for further recovery.

“There are ways of recycling lithium-ion batteries without these dangerous heating and burning steps,” said Connett. “There is an urgent need for a full Environmental Impact Statement.”

The NYS Economic Development Corporation committed to give the company $1.75 million in public dollars. Giving away public dollars for a potentially dangerous project does not make sense and it especially does not make sense when the state is experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis due to covid-19. “The residents of Broome County need money to recover from the covid-19 crisis and the State should not be giving $1.75 million in public subsidies to this project, which will destroy our village. This money should instead be given to Broome County to improve health care, schools, fire and police protection,” said MaryAnn Dorner a founder of No Burn Broome.

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