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As DEC waits for new permit, residents’ worries continue over battery recycling facility

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ENDICOTT (WBNG) -- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says it's still waiting for a new permit application from the company planning to operate a lithium ion battery recycling facility on Clark Street.

A spokesperson for SungEel MCC Americas tells 12 News the company is working with the DEC. As we've reported, the DEC required the company back in May to apply for a new air state facility permit after the state became aware that some of the lithium ion batteries could contain poly fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

It's been an ongoing battle in Endicott, with many people in the village questioning if it's safe to operate a facility like this in a residential neighborhood.

"It would be absolutely devastating," said Endicott resident Olwen Searles, who lives less than a mile from where SungEel hopes to recycle thousands of tons of lithium ion batteries a year.

"We're going after them, we are not going to let this happen, it's just not going to happen in our neighborhood," Searles told 12 News.

SungEel has repeatedly stated that levels of potential toxins would be safe, and monitored by the state. Endicott mayor Linda Jackson said she puts her trust in the DEC and residents should too.

"What they have to understand is I have spent months checking on this," said Jackson.

Right now, the project is at a standstill. The DEC says it's waiting for SungEel to submit a new permit application. Mayor Jackson is hoping it goes through, eager for new industry in Endicott.

"When IBM left, our economy took a big hit, we can't handle this again with [COVID-19.] Our tax revenue is way down," said Jackson.

The DEC told 12 News in a statement:

"DEC takes seriously any potential threats to public health and the environment and conducts rigorous, science-based reviews of permit applications to ensure all permits meet New York State’s stringent requirements to protect our communities. DEC took immediate action to ensure that the facility operations involving PFAS would receive a comprehensive review, including requiring SungEel to apply for a permit modification if any PFAS-containing batteries were processed at Endicott. SungEel has provided some preliminary information regarding PFAS emissions to DEC, but has not submitted a complete response to DEC's May 2020 letter, including the necessary  permit application. Any proposed permit modifications would include a SEQR review, with the type of environmental impact review determined after application materials and SEQR forms are submitted to DEC. DEC remains committed to continuing to keep residents and local officials informed throughout this process and using the best available science to ensure the utmost protection of residents."

Chloe Vincente

Chloe Vincente is an Evening News Anchor at 12 News.

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