BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – Around 50 protesters gathered in Endicott Saturday to oppose the opening of a lithium-ion battery recycling facility, located off residential Robble Avenue.
Operated by SungEel MCC Americas in a partnership between South Korean recycling giant SungEel HiTech and White Plains-based electronics recycler Metallica Commodities Corporation, the plant will use chemical methods to process and recycle lithium-ion batteries.
People in attendance Saturday, however, worry the process will emit toxic particles into the air, endangering the health of neighbors and decreasing property values.
SungEel and Endicott officials have conducted several public hearings, including one last week. Still, Endwell resident Andrea Palmeri said many of their questions go unanswered.
“The mayor and SungEel have done a very poor job talking to the people—the very informed people who have a lot of knowledge in this area—and assuring them that it is as safe as they say it is,” Palmeri said.
During a village board meeting in May, Endicott Mayor Linda Jackson said protesters’ concerns about the safety of recycling lithium-ion batteries were unfounded and without legitimate proof.
According to Endicott resident Charlene Kabanek, a history of chemical spills requiring ongoing mitigation has informed residents’ fears about the recycling facility.
A toxic plume stemming from the old IBM plant went undetected for years and required extensive clean-up, and still leaves parts of the village contaminated today. As of last year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conversation continued to monitor and mitigate the contaminants.
“There are people who have suffered losses from this—financially, and more importantly, physically,” Kabanek said. “Health-wise, they’ve lost people they love, and it’s not forgotten”
Protest organizers NoBurnBroome said they will continue to build support and fight the opening of the lithium-ion battery recycling facility.