November 5, 2020
Endicott election results could derail
lithium-ion battery recycling plant
By Jeff Platsky
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
The apparent ousting of longtime Endicott Village Trustee Cheryl Chapman in Tuesday's election throws a significant roadblock into efforts to open a battery recycling operation at the former IBM campus.
Newcomer Nicholas Burlingame and incumbent Patrick Dorner, both Republicans, outpolled Chapman and Patricia McVannan, Democrats, by nearly 1,000 votes each. Absentee ballots remain to be counted. The Broome County Board of Elections had yet to calculate the number of absentee ballots outstanding in the village.
Tuesday's tally: Burlingame at 2,158; Dorner, 2,051; Chapman, 1,269; and McVannan, 1,229.
On Wednesday afternoon, Chapman conceded defeat.
"I would like to Congratulate Nick Burlingame And Pat Dorner on being elected to the Village of Endicott Board," she said in an email. "I look forward to hear more about the two companies that Pat has lined up to come to Endicott."
Chapman, a 20-year village board veteran, had been one of three plant proponents on the board, along with Mayor Linda Jackson and Eileen Konecny. But the election of Burlingame, who is on the record as opposing the operation, throws the balance to those fighting a more than three year effort to site a lithium-ion battery recycling operation within the village.
"It is time to move on," Jackson said in a Wednesday morning email. "Pat and Nick say they have new businesses coming to take the place of these battery companies. I feel they should make their plans public."
Burlingame joins Endicott Village Trustee Ted Warner and Dorner who have been highly critical of the plan, and called for the sponsors to perform a full environmental impact statement on the proposal.
"We expect a saner and more rational village board to be responsive to their residents," said Paul Connett, a plant opponent.
Chapman and her allies on the village board said the recycling plant will provide an economic boost to the beleaguered village, a community that has been in decline since IBM Corp. began scaling down operations in the early 1990s, with the eventual sale of the campus and its microelectronics business to private operators in 2002.
What the plant would be used for
SungEel MMC Americas expects to renovate two buildings on the former IBM-Endicott campus, now known as Huron, to recover highly desirable materials from spent lithium-ion batteries. The operation will employ about 20 people initially, growing to 80 or more in three years.
After receiving an initial air permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, SungEel's plan is now undergoing a secondary review after PFAS was discovered as an ingredient in lithium-ion batteries. Danish Mir, a SungEel executive, said the highly hazardous chemicals that have fouled water systems in several communities across the nation are present in minuscule amounts in batteries to be processed, and the element will be destroyed by high-temperature processing.
Mir said the recycling process proposed by the company has been mischaracterized as incineration by opponents. Though he acknowledged batteries will be heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius, the high temperatures are not meant to destroy the batteries but to make them brittle to aid in efficient recovery.
Opponents allege the operation — which detractors say will use incineration to recover material from spent batteries — will be a source of toxic emissions near a residential area and within close proximity of a ball field.
They contend the operation is out of character with the neighborhood and poses a substantial health hazard to the village.
The proposed lithium-ion battery recycling facility will be at 801 Clark St. in the former IBM Building 259, on the northeast corner of Robble Avenue and Clark Street on the Huron campus.
the end of the print article with the caption:
"A campaign billboard that promoted Village of Endicott
candidates opposed to a battery recycling plant"
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