Letter: Battery recycling plant would be dangerous

Press & Sun Bulletin, Binghamton NY, page 12A. February 9, 2020

Your Turn
Olwen Searles
Guest columnist

So while the citizens of Endicott weren’t looking, a deal with the devil to bring the only lithium battery recycling facility in the United States crept in the back door.

I read the Press & Sun-Bulletin cover to cover every day, and this was basically a side note. And after reading the comments from other concerned citizens, I realize that we are considered “side notes.”

The company, SMCC of South Korea, has a very real chance of putting this facility in an area highly populated and a few miles from at least three schools. This “arrangement” is being considered by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Decades of trying to clean up a Superfund site left by two past polluters in the Endicott area was apparently not enough disincentive for the powers-that-be. The rallying cry of “jobs, jobs, jobs” seems to drown out the toxic chemicals that could be released into the air. And for the record, is there ever an acceptable level of toxicity vs. jobs? I will venture a guess that none of the parties who will benefit monetarily live in Endicott.

If scary movies don’t give you nightmares, then please read the list of chemicals that are byproducts of this process. Some fun items in exhaust gas are cadmium, copper, nickel, formaldehyde and hydrogen chloride. According to SMCC, they have assured everyone that this is a safe endeavor.

Why Endicott? There isn’t somewhere in this vast country where this facility could operate that is not jeopardizing citizens? We are not only being sold down the river, we are being weighted, anchored and pushed overboard.

A letter of concern from Mr. Thomas Elter, an engineer for the DEC, writes that if certain temperatures are not monitored carefully, there is a real chance of creating dioxin.Three things in life are certain: taxes, death and accidents.

If the Village of Endicott and the Town of Union don’t see this as impacting the bottom line, then we have too many drugs in our water. We have lived here through the good and the bad times, with hopes of improvement.

There is no turning back if this project does indeed go through. Most people who can move, will. Housing prices will tank faster than one can say, “Love Canal.” All the good intentions of reviving this small town will literally go up in toxic smoke. There is no upside to having only lithium recycling facility in the country in a town trying to recover from the past sins of greed and irresponsibility.

Don’t take my word for it. Go to the George F. Johnson library in Endicott to read the contents of this abomination. And then try to have a good night sleep. Not going to happen.

Olwen Searles is an Endicott resident.




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