Wineries, locals blast Finger Lakes trash incinerator plan
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Wine makers and residents from New York’s Finger Lakes region on Tuesday urged Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration to reject calls for a massive trash incinerator between Seneca and Cayuga lakes.
The facility would generate energy by burning thousands of tons of trash each day at the site of the former Seneca Army Depot in the town of Romulus. The project must be approved by the state before it can move forward.
Opponents traveled to Albany to voice their concerns to state health and environmental officials. Nancy Irelan, a wine maker and co-owner of a Yates County winery, said the proposed incinerator would hurt the environment and set back efforts to make the Finger Lakes a destination for tourism and sustainable agriculture.
“Burning trash is not a renewable energy source,” she said, calling the project “an abomination on our landscape.”
Alan Knauf, an attorney for the company behind the project, Rochester-based Circular enerG LLC, discounted the concerns, saying the incinerator would help the environment by creating clean energy through the burning of trash that otherwise would be landfilled. He said metals would be extracted from the trash, and the resulting ash would be repurposed in materials such as concrete. The emissions from the process would be far less damaging than the methane that escapes from landfills, he said, or pollution from coal.
“It’s surprising that people who call themselves environmentalists can be against something that’s so positive,” he said.
The proposal has not yet been formally submitted to the state, but will be reviewed by a Siting Board made up of officials from state environmental and health agencies, according to James Denn, a spokesman for the board.
“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,” he said.