Endicott residents call for more oversight of i3 treatment facility

By Erika Mahoney

February 7, 2014 Updated Feb 7, 2014 at 8:40 AM EDT

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghmaton) Some Endicott residents are asking for more oversight of a wastewater treatment facility at i3 Electronics, formerly Endicott Interconnect.

On Thursday, Western Broome Environmental Stakeholders Coalition invited a representative from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to hear them out, and answer their questions.

The treatment facility, in part, treats leachate, a byproduct of landfill waste. The cleaned effluent is eventually dumped into the Susquehanna River.

It began treating leachate from the Broome County landfill in early 2011. As of late 2013, under a pilot program, it also treats leachate from the Seneca Meadows landfill.

The plant is authorized to treat up to 80,000 gallons of leachate per day.

Once the DEC completes its technical study on if the facility can also handle leachate from Seneca Meadows, it will make a decision on whether the pilot program will become permanent, with the public weighing in.

Endicott residents expressed a number of concerns over the facility.

Some said the smell of the leachate is so strong it keeps them up at night. The DEC added buffers at the plant in November 2013 to diminish the smell.

Others expressed concerns over potential spills and leaks into the Endicott water system. Leachate has spilled twice at the site. Once in 2011 during Tropical Storm Lee, and once soon after the facility began accepting leachate from the Seneca Meadows landfill.

A third concern is what's in the leachate. Some residents believe what's coming from Seneca Meadows contains fracking waste.

"I'm just very concerned about water quality and I am already experiencing the inconvenience of trying to get good drinking water when you don't trust what's coming out of your tap," Julie Mundt said.

The bottom line -- those at the meeting expressed a lack of trust with i3 and asked the DEC for more oversight.

"We've talked tonight about this whole self-reporting thing, when you wait for a for-profit operation to self report, it's not in their interest of their bottom line, to do that, so my trust level is very low," Mundt said.

But the DEC representative said it's not easy to offer more oversight.

"We have a number of activities that we regulate and we are not in the position of being able to monitor every facility everyday and every waste stream that's generated," NYSDEC Regional Engineer Mary Jane Peachey said. "We do rely on companies to do their sampling and report accurately to us. We do have the ability and we do follow up when some of that data might be indicative of a problem."

Peachey went on to say the DEC has no indication fracking waste is being treated at Seneca Meadows.

She also added the i3 treatment facility is in compliance with its permit and meeting water quality standards.

Looking forward, Peachey said she will follow up on the issues brought up at this meeting.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, also attended, and said she would do the same.

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