– By Josh Durso
A group of people have joined forces and established an advocacy group to stop a controversial project in Upstate New York.
The Concerned Citizens of Butler and Beyond has set out to avert a plan to transport sewage sludge to the town of Butler, Wayne County from New York City and the surrounding boroughs.
The intended facility, proposed by Riccelli Enterprises and Tully Environmental, would bring 350 tons of sewage sludge to the area every day, with disastrous results for farmers, residents, businesses, and nearby wildlife, especially considering the intention to use the toxic end product for land application throughout the community.
The Concerned Citizens and its members are working actively throughout the community. “We have continued to gather knowledge, resources, and support as we mount an all-out offensive against a facility that would be detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of our people and the very character of our small, rural community, including the businesses that depend on the pristine environment we now enjoy,” said Kristina Mastrangelo-Gasowski, Vice President of the grassroots organization in a press release.
They have retained legal representation through Knauf Shaw, LLP, the most highly-recommended environmental attorneys in the area.
Under the guise of the “Butler Composting Project”, Tully and Riccelli have submitted an application for a special use permit. They have put the project on hold, however, to reevaluate structural details and operational costs after hundreds of area residents showed up to present a vast array of questions and concerns about the project relating to offensive odors, allergens, and toxins released into the air, increased truck traffic, a decline in property values, contamination of the local well system and nearby Lake Ontario, destruction of agriculture, and a host of other negative environmental impacts. There is undeniable evidence that this project would destroy the community character, pose serious health risks for residents, and have far-reaching environmental outcomes such as the ones currently being seen in Vermont.
Elevated levels of PFAS, a class of compounds called “forever chemicals” that can have devastating health consequences and are also known human carcinogens, have recently been detected on Vermont farms where land application of this “biosolid” or “compost” has taken place. The pseudonym conceals the fact that toxic material that contaminates the groundwater has been used in a dangerous manner since current EPA regulations neglect to test for the thousands of chemicals that remain in the material after processing.
In an effort to avoid this kind of damage to Butler and surrounding areas, CCofBB has made it their mission to combat the proposal before it gets underway. Tom Mettler, President of this group of concerned citizens says, “we have been shocked and overwhelmed by the generosity of other organizations that have reached out to us to offer financial assistance, advice, and resources, and to join us in our efforts to protect the future of the area.”
A new website created by Annie Immerman is devoted to keeping everyone informed and updated. “This creates a streamlined approach to educating others about the situation while also giving them the opportunity to join us in taking a stand against the risk of contamination.”
Butler residents and anyone else concerned about the continued onslaught of garbage and sewage being trucked into the Upstate NY region for disposal are encouraged to visit www.ccofbb.com to complete a membership application, submit membership fees or donations, and prepare themselves to join Concerned Citizens of Butler and Beyond in their mission to protect the region. Questions or comments can also be sent to [email protected]. Mastrangelo-Gasowski reminds others that “it is imperative to stay informed and prepared to unite accordingly when Tully Environmental makes an attempt to move forward with this dangerous process.”