Finger Lakes residents call on Cuomo to reject proposed trash incinerator project

Feb 20, 2018

Joseph Campbell, at podium, at Tuesday's news conference.
Credit senecalakeguardian.org

In the ongoing debate over a proposed waste to energy facility at the Seneca Army Depot, a group of residents and business owners who are opposed to the project traveled to Albany Tuesday to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to reject it.

The facility, proposed by Rochester-based Circular enerG, would produce electricity by burning up to 2,600 tons of trash each day.

A number of residents, neighboring towns, and elected officials have come out against the project.

"I believe in this community, we practice what we preach,” said Nancy Irelan, co-owner of Red Tail Ridge Winery, “Given our focus on renewable and alternative energy, we've learned a great deal about the science and quite frankly, burning trash is not a renewable energy source."

Irelan and her husband moved from California to the Finger Lakes ten years ago to join the growing wine and craft beverage industry. She said they are striving to be carbon neutral by using geothermal heating and cooling and recycling all of the winery’s waste.

Despite the opposition, Circular enerG is reportedly pursuing the waste to energy project under a New York State Public Service Commission power plant siting law, which they say does not require a special use permit from the town of Romulus.

A spokesman for the Siting Board said, "While the applicant recently withdrew its application to the town, the applicant now must obtain approval by the Siting Board made up of several state environmental and health agencies.  To be clear, any proposed waste-to-energy project would undergo an extensive environmental and public review process by the Siting Board designed to deny any project that is not protective of public health and the environment.  The developer has not yet submitted an application."

Attorney Alan Knauf, who is representing the Circular enerG, has said the facility would meet all the strictest environmental standards and it would benefit the local economy.

Joseph Campbell, president of the nonprofit organization Seneca Lake Guardian, said at today’s Albany news conference that he hopes Governor Cuomo makes a strong public statement against the Circular enerG proposal. Campbell contends that because the town of Romulus Planning Board prohibits this type of incinerator, home rule should prevail over state law.