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Cayuga County departments urge legislators to oppose Romulus waste incinerator
ENVIRONMENT

Cayuga County departments urge legislators to oppose Romulus waste incinerator

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Garbage trucks

Trucks filled with garbage wait to enter the Seneca Meadows landfill in June 2016 in Seneca Falls. 

AUBURN — A proposed waste incinerator in the town of Romulus would have a negative environmental and economic impact on Cayuga County and the Finger Lakes region, a study by the county planning and health departments has found. 

Steve Lynch, director of the department, presented a resolution for county legislators to oppose the project and call on the town of Romulus and others to oppose it, too. The Cayuga County Legislature's Planning Committee passed the resolution Wednesday. 

Proposed by Circular enerG, the trash incinerator would be the largest in the state, accepting up to 2,600 tons of waste per day near Seneca Lake on the former Seneca Army Depot property. According to a company presentation on the town of Romulus's website, the $365 million investment would have no odors, avoid greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, create 85 jobs and have a green business center including greenhouses and a solar facility. The project would also convert waste into electricity. 

While the company highlights the incinerator as an environmentally friendly alternative to landfills, the county's study outlines a number of reasons it would be detrimental to the area. 

For one, truck traffic would increase. According to the resolution the incinerator could bring up to 238 trucks through the region per day, each hauling 20 to 30 tons. This could mean up to 148,512 additional trucks on the roads each year, a stress on local roads. 

The resolution also expresses concern about a 260-foot smokestack, which would emit carbon dioxide, water vapor and other potentially harmful byproducts. According to Circular enerG's presentation, however, the project avoids methane emissions that would come from landfills, and would implement an air pollution control system to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's air quality standards. 

According to the departments' research, "the Finger Lakes region is already the dump for half of New York State's municipal solid waste. The Seneca Meadows Landfill in Seneca County is the largest landfill in New York State and Seneca County already receives a disproportionate share of the State's garbage to manage with containment efforts to minimize the impact on the environment, local communities, and the tourist industry. Cayuga County has long suffered the negative impacts of waste being trucked through out communities to this facility."

A number of municipal organizations have already opposed the project including the Ontario County Board of Supervisors, the Tyre Town Board, the Geneva City Council, the town of Geneva, town of Varick, town of Ovid and town of Fayette. The Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition has also expressed its opposition. 

"There's any number of concerns that are more regional that are not just for the town of Romulus," Lynch told legislators March 14. "Our recommendation as a planning department that this is overall not good for economic development. This is overall not good for clean energy policy, and so on and so forth."

Cayuga County Administrator J. Justin Woods added that it wasn't good for public health or environmental quality, either.

The resolution is expected to be voted on at the Ways and Means Committee on March 20 and likely the full Legislature on March 27.

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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