Lupardo Joins Environmental Groups in Calling for EIS on Battery Recycler

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Today, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, joined several environmental groups in calling upon the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed SungEel MMC Americas LLC (SMCC) lithium-ion battery recycling facility slated for Endicott, NY.  Lupardo was joined by the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, and No Burn Broome.

The DEC issued SMCC an Air State Facility Permit on March 30th, 2020. Almost two months later on May 20, 2020, the DEC informed SMCC that the permit would need to be modified after new information surfaced about the presence of poly fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in lithium-ion batteries. The revised permit would need to go through a public review and comment period that would only apply to the modified portions of permit. The DEC is currently waiting for the company to respond to their request for additional information regarding PFAS (due 6/1/20).

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said:

“The September, 2018 announcement about SMCC was well received, as the goal was to create an “industry cluster” with world class battery  research and manufacturing interests present in the area. But with time, a number of critical concerns have been raised by Endicott residents and local environmental groups who have contacted my office. After doing months of homework, and consulting with industry experts, I am convinced that a more detailed environmental review is needed by the DEC, especially now that the project permit is on hold.”

Scott Lauffer, Atlantic Chapter, Sierra Club said:

“Although recycling lithium-ion batteries is of paramount importance, as the need for lithium-ion battery materials increases, we recommend that more precaution be taken with the proposal by SMCC. The DEC should require more emissions data from SMCC and look further at health and safety issues, as there are potential risks to many nearby residents.  When high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) was first proposed for NYS, it was a relatively new process which required a thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The community deserves a better understanding of the hazards posed by this new recycling process, that a thorough EIS review can provide.”

Adam Flint, Director of Clean Energy Programs, Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition said:

“We were pleased when we first learned of the SMCC initiative, as our area has all the ingredients to become a center of the battery storage industry, and we need the good jobs and economic development that will bring. However, after consulting with experts in the field, it has become clear that there are serious question marks over this project, both in terms of environmental health and safety, and regarding the soundness of the proposed business model. In addition to a full Environmental Impact Statement, we recommend that a lithium battery recycling conference be held at Binghamton University next year including relevant state agencies, universities, industry representatives and NY Best, so that best practices from around the world become more widely known. We must not allow corners to be cut when it comes to health, safety and sustainability, because of the urgency of transitioning to a renewable energy system.”

Paul Connett and John Ruspantini, No Burn Broome said:

“No Burn Broome supports the idea of recycling lithium-ion batteries but not processes that subject them to high temperatures and burning byproducts. There are far simpler and safer ways of extracting the valuable metals from these batteries. We support the call for a full Environmental Impact Statement for this project. This would allow: 1) a thorough exploration of the potential dangers of this “first of its kind operation” in the U.S;  2) due consideration of the impacts on an already health-compromised community; 3) a formal exploration of the fire and explosion risks for the recycling facility, the storage facility, and transportation to and from the facility, 4) an evaluation of alternatives to the proposed high temperature method of recycling, and 5) public hearings at which the citizens of Endicott could express their feelings about this project.”

Assemblywoman Lupardo sent a formal letter to Commissioner Basil Seggos requesting an Environmental Impact Statement for the SMCC project.