BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Tension over a lithium-ion battery recycling facility planned for Endicott continues to stir confusion in the village. It is partly due to controversy over the use of high-temperature processes at the plant.
Critics of the facility, operated by SungEel MCC Americas (SMCC), have called it an incinerator. Under regulatory definitions set by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), it’s not.
According to a statement Wednesday to WSKG from the DEC, it’s because the facility will not combust solid waste for disposal or fuel. Instead, the battery thermal treatment kiln at the facility will use high temperatures to treat the batteries so they can be crushed and recycled.
Incineration has been central to the message of the group of residents opposed to the facility. Lawns signs from NoBurnBroome on display throughout the village read “No Incinerator”.
NoBurnBroome held a Zoom meeting last week to brief media outlets on its new position paper. In it, the group writes the high-temperature process used in the kiln will produce toxic byproducts.
Paul Connett, science advisor for NoBurnBroome, said incineration may not be the purpose of the facility, but will still happen during the process.
“Toxic substances are being burnt, and that produces the same problems as incineration,” Connett said.
According to the DEC, toxic emissions from drying the batteries will be controlled and combusted with air pollution technology.
“Emissions from the high temperature thermal dryer are controlled by several air pollution control devices including an afterburner, or thermal oxidizer, which combusts organic emissions prior to an acid gas scrubber and baghouse for particle control,” the DEC wrote.
Development of the facility will remain on hold as the state agency awaits modified permit applications from SMCC,. The applications were required after DEC discovered the presence of PFAS compounds in some batteries.
“Shortly after receiving this information, DEC informed SMCC that under the existing permit, the facility cannot process batteries containing PFAS,” the DEC wrote. “SMCC will need to apply for and receive a permit modification in order to process batteries containing PFAS compounds.”
The DEC said SMCC has not yet submitted the application materials and test plans necessary to modify its permit.