ENDICOTT (WBNG) -- As SungEel MCC Americas awaits an air permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation, residents are concerned about the facility's possible impacts on human health.
SungEel applied for an air permit with the DEC to operate on Clark Street in Endicott. The company claims to be the United States' first and only chemical based recycler of lithium ion batteries.
Local and state leaders see the battery recycling facility as a way to help bring new jobs and boost the economy. The project was spearheaded by the state back in 2018 to help bring new industry to part of the former IBM campus.
"Why is Endicott the guinea pig for this?" asks retired St. Lawrence Chemistry Professor and Binghamton resident Dr. Paul Connet. "If there are not many of these facilities around the world then it makes the question why Endicott? Why us?"
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo says she's been working with the DEC to make sure the facility operates safely and meets code. "Anytime a new manufacturer comes to Endicott we want to make sure that everything is done properly given the history in that community," she said. "We've been in touch with the DEC. Obviously any manufacturer is going to have emissions."
Public records about the facilty and its current operations in South Korea show dozens of toxic chemicals could be involved in the recycling process.
After repeated requests to speak with SungEel, 12 News was not granted an interview.
The DEC says like all environmental permit applicants, there is a rigorous review process to ensure protection of public health. The DEC's public comment period ended about a month ago on Dec. 5. A spokesperson tells 12 News they're still reviewing comments before they make a decision to hold a hearing or grant the air permit.