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Residents blast proposed sewer sludge facility in Butler at meeting; no decisions made yet

As expected, residents turned out in force to oppose the sewer sludge composting facility on State Route 89 in the town of Butler.

Tully Environmental gave a presentation to the Town of Butler, and its Town Board at a meeting on Monday. The room was packed, with standing room only, as residents from Butler and beyond turned out to oppose the facilitation of such an operation in the Finger Lakes.

Tommy Mettler, Village of Wolcott Waste Water Superintendent said it’s ‘not a good thing’. “You take someplace like New York City and you’re getting hospital waste, chemicals and only God knows what else,” he said. The concern, raised by Mettler, as well as others is that Wolcott Creek could become contaminated.

Tully contends that it won’t happen. An enclosed structure will be built to mitigate any rainfall and runoff that comes from the facility.

Amidst public statements in opposition to the project by dozens of concerned citizens, the Town voted to appoint an environmental engineer to review the proposal.

“We expect you to evaluate all potential risks and costs in order to ultimately make the right choice for the Butler Township,” Mettler added.

“You have to understand that we don’t want this sewer sludge facility, and neither does the rest of upstate N.Y.,” Mettleradded.

“There are many fatal flaws in the proposed sewage sludgefacility’s proposal,” said Kristina Mastrangelo-Gasowski, co-founder of Butler and Beyond for Sludge-Free Backyards. “The most glaring is that the produced compost would not be safe for application to agricultural crops. This waste contains, among other things, heavy metals, and PFAS, a forever chemical linked to negative health impacts including cancer.  The waste would then have to be sent to area landfills. The Finger Lakes already receives 50% of the state’s trash, and we certainly do not want to accept more, especially if it contains harmful toxins” said Mastrangelo-Gasowski.

Once the proposal is reviewed by the Butler Planning Board, the project moves to a possible vote at the next meeting on April 13th.

Mettler said that he and many other members of the community will fight this project at all costs. “At the end of the day, the Town of Butler Board needs to consider which headline they want to see: “Town Residents Sue Board for Irresponsible Representation”, or “Town Sued by Predatory Sewage Company”.  We trust that they will consider their constituents opposition and ultimately respond accordingly.”

Ralph Deon, Jr., said he was worried about the chemicals that Tully wouldn’t be testing for. “They only test for six chemicals. And there’s well over 3,000 chemicals in it,” he explained.

Mettler contends that the scale of the operation that Tully is working to pull off is lost on some residents. “What they’re proposing here, the magnitude of what they’re proposing, I don’t think people can fathom what they want to do,” he added.

Meanwhile, Roger Misso, a Democrat running for Congress in the 23rd District attended the meeting. He was the only candidate from the 23rd contest, which includes at least two other Democrats and the incumbent Republican John Katko, who attended the meeting.

“I stand with Butler residents and my message is clear: Sewage is not the future of economic development in Wayne County,” he said. “Wayne deserves better than crap.”

He addressed the issue of seeing congressional candidates and representatives not showing up when small town, rural residents are in need. “If politicians don’t show up in Wayne County when they’re campaigning – how can we trust they’ll show up when they’re in Congress?” he asked. “It’s time for something different. It’s time for a Congressman who will show up again.”

Supervisor David Spickerman did not comment on the proposal at media’s request. Tully Environmental also did not comment after the session. The Town of Butler will hold another meeting on April 13th.