CATSKILL — The state Department of Environmental Conservation has confirmed that Wheelabrator Technologies withdrew its application to establish an ash landfill in Catskill — the final step in canceling the project.
When local residents became aware of the project in February, there was great concern over the environmental impacts the project might have.
Environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper took charge of the activist movement.
Director of Community Engagement & Outreach Jessica Roff said she was pleased with the news that the project was shelved.
“We’re obviously incredibly glad to hear that Wheelabrator has officially taken their permit requests out of DEC’s hands because it was a terrible idea from the beginning that was going to waste a lot of people’s time and resources,” Roff said.
An ash landfill was an inappropriate use for a former quarry, Roff said.
“This was a really amazing example of people power that got Wheelabrator to pack their bags,” she said.
The community is still motivated about addressing its solid waste problem, Roff added.
Former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith Enck played a pivotal role in the opposition.
“It is extraordinary good news that Wheelabrator is officially pulling out of Catskill,” Enck said. “This was an environmentally damaging ash disposal project that does not belong in Catskill or anywhere else. High marks for local residents who mobilized to protect their community and the Hudson River. They played a crucial leadership role that others were not up to performing.”
Catskill Village President Vincent Seeley wants the community come up with safer alternatives.
“I am relieved that this is over but now I see this as an opportunity to take all that energy and focus it on what we feel are appropriate uses that benefit our community, protect the environment and provide a sustainable economic platform,” Seeley said.
Wheelabrator submitted its application to DEC in early 2017 for an ash landfill on 158 acres on Route 9W owned by Peckham Materials Inc. Wheelabrator proposed to lease the land from Peckham and transport 445,000 tons of ash annually from its incinerator plants in Peekskill, Poughkeepsie and Hudson Falls to the site, where metals would be separated from the ash.
Correspondence dated June 11 from state Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Analyst Kristy Primeau to Wheelabrator’s Senior Manager of Business Development Mark Schwartz confirms that the company asked to withdraw its application.
“On June 5 and subsequently on June 10, the DEC received your request via email to withdraw the applications for Hudson Valley Materials Management and Reclamation project from processing,” Primeau wrote.
Wheelabrator’s Mined Land Reclamation permit and Solid Waste Management permit applications have been withdrawn, Primeau wrote.
Wheelabrator said its decision has nothing to do with the quality of the site, Wheelabrator President and CEO Robert Boucher wrote to Catskill Town Supervisor Doreen Davis on May 22.
“While we stand by the conclusions of our technical evaluation to date that the site was capable of meeting and exceeding state environmental requirements, we no longer wish to engage in this project at this time,” Boucher wrote. “We appreciate your consideration and the efforts of the Greene County Industrial Development Agency in working with our team and we wish the Catskill community and its citizens all the best.”
Wheelabrator representatives last month told Village Trustee Joseph Kozloski that they had other plans at an on-site meeting.
“Their parent company has purchased another company with three dumpsites,” Kozloski said. “They don’t need to go forward with it for now.”
The other dumpsites are expected to last about 30 years, Kozloski said.