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Cuomo takes issue with Romulus waste incineration plan

Following a rally in Albany denouncing a proposed waste incinerator in Romulus, Seneca County, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday criticized the project, too.

Cuomo called Circular EnerG’s plans to make power by transporting and burning municipal waste “simply not appropriate,” adding: “I’m confident that the Article 10 siting board will carefully consider these impacts and reject the project application if one is ever filed. If the legislature proposes other solutions, we will consider all options to protect against this proposal that is at odds with New York’s renewable energy plan and that threatens important natural resources, environmentally sensitive areas, and economic drivers in the Finger Lakes region.”

Alan J. Knauf, the Rochester attorney representing the project, said more environmental damage will be done by not burning waste in an environmentally controlled way. He also noted that waste-to-energy plants are considered renewable energy under the state’s energy law.

“Right now we’re sending our waste to landfills, creating terrible problems,” Knauf said, citing leaks, odors, methane production and spontaneous fires.  Knauf said the Circular EnerG project would produce 160,000 tons less carbon dioxide than if the same amount of waste was sent to landfills.

The proposal will continue, Knauf said, but could take years to resolve.

“Ultimately, it comes down to the siting board to make a proper determination. If they listen to people outside the process, it’s going to be something the courts will have to set aside,” Knauf said.

Redevelopment of the Seneca Army Depot, where the waste incinerator would be located, has been stalled because of lack of power in the area, on top of the former Army base being declared a federal Superfund site because of hazardous contamination of soils,” Knauf said.

“You need power and it doesn’t have the power.  This would provide the power and create 85 jobs,” he said.

Many local groups have opposed the project, including Cuomo’s opponent in the Democratic primary for governor, actress Cynthia Nixon.

Several state legislators, municipal officials and representatives of the wine industry held a press conference earlier Tuesday to call for Cuomo to take action and support legislation making it more difficult for the plant to be approved.

State Sen. Pam Helming said the project “will have a devastating impact on Romulus and the entire region. Allowing a proposed solid waste management facility disguised as a power plant to move forward under the Article X process is unfair to our local communities and existing businesses.”

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