Skip to main content

It is time to close the file for Wheelabrator

June 4, 2019 10:42 am

To the editor:

We welcome the letter of 22 May 2019 from Robert Boucher, President/CEO of Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc., to Catskill Town Supervisor, Doreen Davis, announcing Wheelabrator’s withdrawal of its proposal for a toxic ash waste dump at the Peckham quarry site. We note with far less enthusiasm their statement that they “…no longer wish to engage in the project at this time.”

Wheelabrator’s initial landfill permit application was roundly rebuked by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, (DEC). Their current, revised application has been thoroughly debunked by our esteemed experts. Now, Wheelabrator is attempting to evade DEC’s scrutiny with a preemptive announcement that they are “withdrawing their proposal” from the Town of Catskill, without also withdrawing their DEC permit application, which remains in limbo.

This would seem to imply that they have an option that they, or their successor, heirs and/or assigns, might wish to exercise at some later time of their choosing. Such an unauthorized ‘option’ is illusory and unacceptable.

Wheelabrator has not withdrawn their permit application at the DEC. The DEC should clarify with Wheelabrator that it no longer wishes to pursue its current incomplete permit application so that DEC can close out the application. Wheelabrator also continues to maintain that its project is environmentally viable. The withdrawal of interest directly followed public outcry and opposition to this project and a refutation of its claims by an independent panel of experts, who outlined the hideous environmental risks and adverse impact presented by the project. All testimony was voluntarily provided at no cost to the taxpayer, based on science, and in the service of preserving and protecting the safety of our public and their environment.

Wheelabrator’s self-serving posture is even more troubling because DEC had already rejected their initial application for this project, negating Wheelabrator’s assertions that their proposed toxic ash dump “exceeded state environmental requirements.”

Wheelabrator must withdraw their DEC permit application forthwith before the matter can be considered settled. Alternatively, the State should reject this proposal as withdrawn and therefore disqualified from any continued consideration In the name of “economic development,” the Greene County Industrial Development Agency, and the Town of Catskill Planning Board along with Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc., and Peckham Industries Inc., have wasted much time is pursuing a project that is unacceptable to the people.

Not only must the DEC application be withdrawn for the sake of the public and the environment, but, local officials must learn a lesson for the future. All projects must be presented and reviewed with transparency; and further, we want projects that enhance the Town, not those that would destroy it.

Jon Phillips, citizen, resident, advocate, Stop-Toxic-Ash-Dumps-Catskill; Dave Walker, Higgins Professor Emeritus, Earth and Environmental Sciences; and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University; Paul A. Rubin; President of HydroQuest; Hydrogeologist; Judith Enck, Former EPA Regional Administrator, Visiting Professor and Senior Fellow, Bennington College; Jessica Roff, Director of Advocacy and Engagement, Riverkeeper; Mary T. Finneran, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter; Neva E. Wartell, Catskill resident; Sue Rosenberg, Saugerties; Hudson Talbott, author of “The River of Dreams,” Catskill