Residents will urge governor to reject trash incinerator proposed for former Seneca Army Depot site

A group from the Finger Lakes region heads to Albany Tuesday to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reject a proposal that would put a trash incinerator near Seneca Lake.

Several business owners, elected officials and other concerned citizens will hold a press conference at the Capitol building at 11 a.m. saying the waste-to-energy plant would pose a serious risk to the Finger Lakes environment, economy and quality of life.

The $365 million project sought by Circular EnerG LLC would put an incinerator on 48 acres of the more than 10,000 acres of the former Seneca Army Depot site in the town of Romulus in Seneca County. The facility’s operation also would depend on using Seneca Lake water.

Those attending the press conference will include members of Seneca Lake Guardian, a nonprofit Seneca Lake protection organization; Will Ouweleen with Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition; Michael Warren Thomas, host of Grapevine Radio; Lou Damiani, co-owner of Damiani Wine Cellars; and several local officials and homeowners from around Seneca and Cayuga lakes.

The incinerator would be built 3.5 miles from Seneca Lake, and just 3,200 feet from a K-12 school and a residential facility for at-risk youth, according to Seneca Lake Guardian. The plant would have a 260-foot smokestack that could be seen for miles and import nearly 3,000 tons of trash daily, likely from New York City, using 260 trucks per day. The group also cited concerns over toxic emissions and residual ash from trash incinerators that contain dioxins, lead, mercury, and other toxic chemicals harmful to the health of humans, plants and animals.

On economic impact, opponents say the few jobs created would be countered by the risk the incinerator would pose to the region’s $2.8 billion wine and tourism industry that supports nearly 60,000 jobs.

“Local businesses and vineyard owners, lake property owners, residents in the region, and elected officials oppose the project due to these potential economic, health and environmental damages,” the announcement about Tuesday’s press conference reads in part.

Last month, the Ontario County Board of Supervisors became the latest in a string of local governments and organizations to oppose the plan. The project could have “potentially disastrous impacts on a lot of things that are valuable to this county,” said Canadice Town Supervisor Kris Singer at the January meeting when the board voted to oppose the plan. Singer, chair of the board’s Planning and Environmental Quality Committee, spoke out along with Geneva Supervisors Dominick Vedora and Lou Guard, who urged the board to take a stand.

“The whole thing is, they want upstate New York to be the dumping ground for all their trash,” Vedora said.

Manchester Supervisor Jeff Gallahan, also against the plan, said that because the waste will be generated from New York City, it should go to Westchester County. “It makes no economic sense to build this in upstate New York,” Gallahan said.

Circular EnerG LLC, which formed in January 2017, originally took its plan for consideration to the town of Romulus. The town opposes the plan. Now, the company is instead seeking approval through the state’s Article 10 process, a streamlined approval process for the siting of new and repowered or modified major electric-generating facilities.