U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, called on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Commander LTC Eli Adams to fully evaluate the potential environmental risks associated with the proposed materials recovery and solid waste transfer facility in the Town of Cayuta, Schuyler County, New York. Echoing community concerns, Schumer and Gillibrand urged the Army Corps of Engineers to investigate the potential negative impact on nearby federal wetlands and state parks; particularly Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen State Park, and Newfield State Forest.
“Every New Yorker deserves clean water and a hazard-free community,” said Senator Schumer. “The proposed facility in Cayuta could not only potentially threaten the local water quality and nearby wetlands, but it could also hurt the local economy, already devastated by the effects of the COVID pandemic. Therefore, I urge the Army Corps of Engineers to carry out a full-scale environmental impact study of the proposed facility to ensure that the local economy and quality of life for the community comes first and foremost.”
“Seneca Lake, Cayuta Lake, and the entire Susquehanna River Basin watershed are beautiful New York destinations and preserving them isn’t just good for our communities, it’s good for our economy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We have already seen the terrible consequences of poor water quality on communities across New York and we can’t afford to repeat our mistakes. Ensuring complete transparency of potential environmental risks is a critical step in protecting these unique waterways and the local economies they support.”
The proposed County Line Materials Recovery Facility in the Town of Cayuta would process recyclables, municipal solid waste, and construction and demolition debris before transferring the waste to a nearby facility. Local residents and other community stakeholders have raised concerns about the potential environmental impacts on outdoor recreational areas that are important to the area’s tourism economy and potential pollution generated by the facility impairing water quality of these scenic destinations. These pristine destinations are key to economic resiliency and recovery for small towns facing economic crises caused by the pandemic.
Full text of the letter can be found below.
Dear Lieutenant Colonel Adams:
We write to express concerns regarding a proposed materials recovery and solid waste transfer facility in the Town of Cayuta, Schuyler County, New York. We have heard community concerns that the facility has the potential to pose significant negative environmental impacts, including water quality concerns, through the construction of the facility on and/ or adjacent to wetlands in Schuyler County. To address these concerns, we request a full evaluation of the project’s potential impacts to nearby wetlands by the regulatory division of the Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District.
It is our understanding that the proposed County Line Materials Recovery Facility would process not just recyclables, as implied by the project name, but would also accept municipal solid waste as well as construction and demolition debris. It would store and then ultimately transfer the solid waste to another facility such as the nearby Seneca Meadows Landfill.
However, the location of the proposed facility could have an outsized adverse impact on nearby pristine environments as it abuts the Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area and is not far from the popular Watkins Glen State Park, Newfield State Forest, and Seneca Lake. These popular tourist and recreation areas are key to the economic vibrancy of other small towns in Schuyler County. More to the point, the project could negatively impact wetlands that sit atop or adjacent to the proposed site and flow into the larger Susquehanna River Basin watershed. For that reason, we strongly request that you conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the project to determine the possible impact to nearby wetlands. The residents of Schuyler County must know any potential risks the proposed materials recovery and waste transfer facility will have on local water quality.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.