ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York State Assembly passed a bill Thursday that prevents the construction of new trash incinerators in the region and is aimed at blocking construction of a proposed controversial incinerator at the Seneca Army Depot in Romulus.

Specifically, the bill — co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WF-125) — would prohibit the state from issuing permits for a trash incinerator in the Oswego/Finger Lakes Watershed, if there is a landfill within a 50-mile radius of the proposed incinerator and if it would be located within 10 miles of a priority watershed designated by the Department of Environmental Conservation. There are identical bills in the Assembly (A5029) and Senate (S2270).

In a news release Thursday, Lifton said she worked closely with Assemblymember Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island), chair of the Assembly Energy Committee, to draft the bill, and the Assembly worked with the Senate companion bill.

“I was proud to co-sponsor this bill, and I’m very pleased that it has now passed the Assembly,” said Lifton. “The proposed project in Romulus carries significant risks to the health and welfare of our region and all our communities, and experts have told us that it could be very damaging to the local environment. Wineries and local businesses throughout our region have also weighed in on the project, expressing concern that an incinerator could have a devastating impact on the local agriculture and tourism industries.”

The legislation is aimed at Rochester-based Circular enerG’s plan to build a $365 million waste-to-energy trash incinerator on a 48-acre parcel of the Seneca Army Depot property. When it was first proposed, the company said the incinerator would burn up to 175 truckloads of solid waste each day and generate electricity. But the trash incinerator was met with community opposition as well as local and state opposition from those who do not want the pollution. In addition to Lifton, several politicians, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and N.Y. Sen. Tom O’Mara have previously voiced opposition to the incinerator.

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Tompkins County Legislature recently weighed in and supported the Senate and Assembly bills with a unanimous resolution that stated the proposed incinerator would “emit toxic emissions and residual ash containing dioxins, lead, mercury, and other toxic chemicals, as well as an estimated one million tons of carbon dioxide every year … these emissions would be harmful to humans, animals, and plants in the area, would pollute Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, and would have a harmful impact on tourism and agriculture in the Finger Lakes area.”

The bill is necessary, Lifton said in a statement, because under current Article 10 state siting law, trash incinerators can be built even if it violates local zoning ordinances. She said she hopes the Senate will pass this bill and Gov. Cuomo will then sign it into law.

Featured image provided.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.