This is something I hate to do, but hard times come with hard choices  😦

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Wolcott Creek

New York City has a big problem.  And the residents of the small Wayne County town of Butler want it to stay in New York City.  They want no part of it,

And why would they?  Raise your hand if you don’t mind having 10 tractor-trailers, each bearing 30 tons of people-poop, depositing said tonnage in your town.

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EACH DAY.

EVERY DAY.

.  .  . well?

Someone?  Anyone?

Hmmm.  Just as I thought.

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Another view of Wolcott Creek in another season

 

 

Nonetheless, Tully Enterprises, which already does quite a business hauling sewer waste out of the city for treatment elsewhere, thinks the residents of the Town of Butler, the smallest town in rural Wayne County, should be pleased to host a facility to treat that sludge right on the banks of Wolcott Creek.

But they’re not.   And on March 10 they crowded into — and overflowed from — the 150-seat Butler Town Hall to express their displeasure.

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Muckland farming is still carried on in Butler and in the adjacent town of Savannah.

Peter Mantius writes a blog about the “environmental politics in New York’s Finger Lakes” (https://waterfrontonline.blog/2020/03/10/butler-town-hall-overflows-with-crowd-fiercely-opposed-to-sewage-sludge-imports-from-new-york-city/).  He described a “raucous” and “energized” crowd and noted that “roughly a dozen speakers spoke in opposition.”

” No one,” he reported, “spoke in support.”

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Beaver, ducks, swans, and birds currently nest alongside Wolcott Creek

Although Mantius thought that the town board remained “noncommittal,”  it would appear otherwise if you read the Finger Lakes Times.  One board member, Duane VanGelder, commented that Butler residents should “have a right to do what they want with their own property, within the law.”  Apparently this right extends to Ricelli Enterprises, owner of the 30-acre tract where the proposed facility would be constructed.  Ricelli Enterprises, by the way, has offices in North Syracuse, Fulton, and Phelps but none in Butler.  Nonetheless, VanGelder went on to further support the project by dismissing outright any complaints about the odor that would inevitably result from treating 300 tons of sewage a day.  “We are in an open rural area, and we expect these things.”  These things?   There is a big difference, my friend, between farming and treating your town like an unflushed toilet.  Maybe HE expects “these things,” but WE don’t!

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Heron rookery on Route 89 in South Butler.  The right-most nest currently hosts a nesting eagle.

Tom Mettler, Superintendent for Waste Water in the adjacent Village of Wolcott, disagrees with VanGelder’s assessment of “these things,” too, and he told a 10NBC News reporter why.  “I did visit [the sludge dumping site] in Pennsylvania that they [Tully Enterprises] have, and the odors were absolutely horrid,” Mettler said. “You can smell the stuff for miles.”

DSCN0363Mettler explained further to a reporter from The Finger Lakes Times.  “That’s because the sludge is human and animal feces, industrial chemicals, medical wastes, oil products, pesticides etc.,”  he said.   “Curing sewage does not remove toxins. Pathogens, chemicals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, poisons, and toxins settle into the sludge.”

“What is surprising is that “[t]he product of all this is sold as fertilizer to farmers and gardeners and can be labelled as organic. It ruins farmland [and] people’s health. . .”

DSCN9928He predicted what is likely to happen if the treatment facility is built.  “The odor from this composting [would be] carried possibly miles from 89.”

Well, I am possibly miles from Route 89, but not very many.  So I am adding my opposition to this proposal in full support of the residents.  The Town of Butler is where many of my nature photos originate, and I shudder to think of what would happen should this facility be built.

Butler’s population is 2064, only 140 of whom are registered voters.  New York City, though, has a population of about 8.7 MILLION.  Maybe a city that large should secede and become their own state.   That way they could keep their problems to themselves instead of dumping them in the small towns of “upstate,” which to city residents is just about any town located in that nebulous area north of Yonkers.   In any event, listen up, Tully Enterprises!  We don’t want any of that city %$%#$!  The mess was made in NYC, and NYC is there it should remain.

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Update, July 7, 2020:  They won!  Tully Enterprises has withdrawn their interest in the Town of Butler, citing (among other things) the “lack of utilities” and the expense of “the necessary odor control system to treat all that air” — you can read it for yourself right here:

https://www.rochesterfirst.com/news/local-news/no-nyc-waste-facility-in-butler-after-tully-environmental-pulls-proposal-off-the-table/

P7070542I hope Tully Enterprises now realizes that any facility required to treat NYC sewage should be built in NYC.  Congratulations to the citizens who spoke up to protect their town!

And, let any other endangered upstate town learn a lesson from the citizens of Butler.  They may be few in number, but the are mighty when united in a common cause!

 

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