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DIGGING DEEPER: Endicott company treating wastewater from out of state garbage

(WBNG) — Liquid landfill wastewater from a non-local landfill is being sent to Endicott to be treated, then discharged to the Susquehanna River.

We first told you about how landfill liquid from Broome County is sent to Endicott where it’s treated and dumped into the Susquehanna River. A private company is also permitted to treat landfill liquid and release it into the river, but it’s not just local wastewater it treats. The company takes waste from much larger regions far away from here that no ones else wants and then some of it comes to Endicott.

It has people like Endicott Resident Rick White concerned. “The corporations are going to continue to do what they want to do and public and residents be damned,” said White. He told 12 News he think operations at i3 Electronics are putting our area at risk of even more contamination.

i3 has held a permit to discharged treated liquid landfill wastewater, or leachate, since 2014. Leachate contains harmful contaminants, which is why companies like i3 treat it before its discharged into the Susquehanna River.

“It’s primarily ammonia and organic content and metals,” said i3 Environmental Programs Manager Paul Speranza.

i3 accepts landfill liquid from the Seneca Meadows landfill. 12 News made the nearly two hour trek to Seneca Falls to get more answers.

According to Seneca Meadows Landfill District Manager Kyle Black, Seneca Meadows is the largest landfill in New York State. “It has to go somewhere,” said Black.

The massive landfill doesn’t just take garbage from New York, Black said they take in waste from several other states, even Canada.

Then some of the leachate from Seneca Meadows makes its way to Endicott, but it’s not just wastewater from the active part of the landfill we have to worry about. Part of the property is contaminated with hazardous waste.
The government calls it a superfund site and the one at Seneca Meadows is still being cleaned up.

Black said, “The leachate we pull out of it is actually lower strength than the leachate that’s in the operating landfill.” According to Black, all of the leachate from the superfund is mixed with the active landfill leachate, meaning those contaminants are in the same landfill liquid that goes to i3.

Once treated it flows into to the Susquehanna River and the process never stops.

“Our manufacturing process is continuous so the discharge is continuous,” said Speranza. He told us the company’s operations, however, don’t pose any risk to the public.

While there haven’t been any reported spills while transferring the leachate there have been other concerns.

“When a company decides to bring in dangerous landfill waste and process it in liquid form and then they have a spill and New York State doesn’t yank their permit … this is what makes people very angry,” said White.

The Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed to us that back in 2013 the facility’s operator at the time, Endicott Interconnect Technologies, which was taken over by i3 later that year, did indeed spill landfill wastewater at its facility that came from Seneca Meadows.

“It was a lot of gallons of awful stuff and it smelled to high heavens, it smelled like sewage,” said White.

The DEC says the leachate was quickly cleaned up and i3 has since modified operations.

A year later, i3 was given a permit by the DEC to treat and discharge landfill leachate.

“I think that’s about the time that I realized this is not going to stop,” said White.

White says he’s tried to get answers from the company at town meetings but still feels left in the dark.

We reached back out to i3 in regards to the spill. Speranza said he was referring specifically to trucking concerns, adding quote:
“Since i3 electronics began operations on the campus in November 2013, there have been no such problems.
DEC is referring to the prior company, Endicott Interconnect Technologies’ leak from a storage tank nozzle in February of 2013. It was immediately reported to the NYSDEC spill hotline and immediate corrective actions were taken to contain and clean up the leak.”

The DEC says i3 is operating within state standards with all proper permits.

Chloe Vincente

Chloe Vincente is an Evening News Anchor at 12 News.

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