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Romulus Planning Board Meeting Packed Over Waste to Energy Proposal

Circular enerG representatives address a meeting of the Town of Romulus Planning Board
Kelly Walker
Finger Lakes Public Radio

The monthly Town of Romulus Planning Board meeting drew hundreds to the Romulus Fire Department Monday night. A company called Circular enerG proposes to bring a waste to energy facility to the former Seneca Army Depot. No public comment was permitted during or after the presentation, but that didn’t stop the capacity crowd from reacting to Circular enerG attorney Alan Knauf.

“We just think that this is such a great project for the environment and the local economy. We want to explain the details. I think people don’t understand what’s involved.”

The facility was presented as an opportunity to spur industrial development in the Depot. Mike Palumbo is the president of Seneca Depot LLC, which purchased the land 17 years ago. He says they have received dozens of development proposals over the years including a Wal-Mart distribution facility.

“The bottom line is, we have 950 acres of industrially zoned land that can never be used because it lacks electricity. This solves that problem. We have, in the last two years, been approached by regional and international greenhouse operators that service large retailers that would be very interested in the site, if we had electric. This doesn’t have to support anything other than agriculture.”

Criticism of the proposal has largely focused on plans to bring additional trash into the region. Circular enerG argues it is an environmentally sustainable alternative to landfills. Darrin Magee is a professor of environmental science who wrote an op-ed for the Finger Lakes Times on Sunday voicing his opposition to the proposal.

"I understand the argument that we need more electricity in the depot itself. That makes sense to me. What doesn’t make sense is why bringing in more garbage to produce electricity to spur that economic development is the only option. Why not, as I suggested in my article in the paper, build a solar facility. Make the Finger Lakes the poster child of forward thinking, forward looking, real renewable energy development, not some greenwashed garbage calling landfill waste to energy renewable energy."

The Planning Board has requested the Town of Romulus hire both an environmental consulting firm and environmental attorney as they consider the proposal. Circular enerG would be responsible for those costs.

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