Peckham Industries in the Town of Catskill Withdraws Permit Application

Community members of Keep It Greene celebrate news but remain vigilant. 

Western view from Germantown Boat Launch across to Catskill. Proposed Peckham Waste Berm Site is northwest of the jetty.  Photo Diana Abadie

Contact:  Diana Abadie, Keep It Greene   518-929-7532

On June 15, 2020  Jason Kappel, Director of Technical Services Peckham Industries Inc, wote to Nancy Baker, Regional Permit Administrator, Division of Environmental Permits …”please consider this email notification that Peckham Industries is withdrawing from permitting consideration the project known as the Peckham Catskill Berm Project. The economic climate is not right at this time for Peckham to consider furthering this project.”   

Back in October of 2019, the DEC received an application from Peckham Industries, Inc., the owner of a portion of the former Holcim Cement Plant in the Town of Catskill, for a solid waste permit only a few hundred yards from the Hudson River. The permit would allow Peckham to import 600,000 tons (that’s 1.2 billion pounds) of construction and demolition (C&D) debris waste from New York City. 

Keep It Greene’s Peckham Action Group, a non-partisan, grassroots, volunteer organization located in Greene County, organized and led the community in an effort to understand the project process in order to push back on the proposal. 

“The Peckham berm project was in fact an unlined landfill for construction and demolition waste,” said Dr. Dave Walker, geologist and member of Keep It Greene. “It was supposedly justified in their proposal as a screening device to protect potential viewers from having to see the asphalt plant planned for the old Holcim cement kiln site. It was unclear how a mammoth berm would be a scenic improvement. Peckham has not deemed it necessary to hide their two asphalt plants in Athens.  The DEC also found the proposal doubtful. So we welcome Peckham’s withdrawal of the proposal in response to the DEC finding that the application was incomplete.”

“There is no such thing as clean fill,” stated Diana Abadie, another key member of Keep It Greene. “Lead, asbestos and other toxic compounds are often laced into the waste. Duck Cove is an environmentally sensitive area. Indubitably, toxic leachate would enter the Hudson risking the sensitive ecosystems that support the fish and wildlife in the river and its  wetlands and estuaries. We love you New York City, but we won’t allow you to dump your waste on the banks of the Hudson RIver”.  

The project had the potential to adversely impact Germantown residents’ view-shed and significantly increase ambient noise. Kaare Christian, President, Roe Jan Watershed Community weighed in on the news, “The Roe Jan Watershed Community is pleased to see the end of this project. Like many other environmental groups in the valley, we’re working hard to make things better. Shipping C&D debris to Catskill, defacing and polluting a beautiful stretch of the Hudson, to a site easily visible from the mouth of the  Roe Jan, was a terrible idea.” Robert Beaury, Supervisor Germatown added, “This is another important moment for our River communities.  Many thanks to Keep it Greene and its consulting experts for keeping stakeholders educated and engaged.”  

“This is great news for everyone who cares about a clean Hudson River and a clean Hudson Valley,” said Judith Enck, Former EPA Regional Administrator and founder of Beyond Plastics. Last year, people power resulted in the Wheeleabator incinerator ash dump being rejected and now we have the good news that the dreadful proposal to put massive amounts of construction and demolition debris on the shoreline of the Hudson River has been abandoned. Please, no more damaging proposals like this. Let’s put legal mechanisms in place to protect the Hudson river shoreline.”

“Thanks to the vigilance of the local community, we learned about Wheelabrator’s toxic ash landfill proposal and the recent application for a C& D processing and transfer facility on the Hudson in the Village of Athens,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “We supported the community’s hard work to stop these dangerous proposals, none of which would have advanced community or environmental objectives. We are thrilled by the news that the applicant withdrew its permit application.”  


Victory Over Proposed Athens Construction and Demolition Waste Facility

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              Keep It Greene & Friends of Athens
Diana Abadie

Victory Over Proposed Athens Construction and Demolition Waste Facility Project abandoned but other fights loom for neighbors up and down the Hudson River

ATHENS, NY—March 20, 2020  Yesterday, the Division of Materials Management Officer at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) confirmed that Athens Stevedoring and Environmental Development LLC had withdrawn its application for a proposed Construction and Demolition waste processing facility in the Village of Athens and was no longer interested in pursuing the project.

The project had only recently come to light when, in January 2020, Keep It Greene member and Athens resident Diana Abadie made an unnerving discovery. “There’s a spot right on the Hudson River adjoining the boat dock where I often drink my morning coffee,” Diana recalls. “I noticed a for sale sign and when I called, the owner of the property told me that he was selling to a barge and trucking company.”

A series of Freedom of Information Law requests revealed specific plans to import 8,400 tons of Construction & Demolition Debris (C&DD) waste per week that would be stored, processed (i.e. crushed and sorted), and then exported by hundreds of trucks six days a week from a 6.1 acre waterfront site in the Village. Keep It Greene worked with Friends of Athens,, Hudson Riverkeeper, and the Village of Athens Mayor and Board of Trustees to inform the community and encourage them to organize. After an outpouring of support from the public (an online petition garnered over 2,000 signatures in only two weeks) and support from State Assemblymember Chris Tague (R) and Congressman Antonio Delgado (D), Athens Stevedoring withdrew its application and abandoned the project.

“I am very proud of how our entire community came together to make their voices heard,” said Village of Athens Mayor Stephan Bradicich.  “I have no doubt that the large and unified opposition to this project played a large part in stopping the effort.”

Although the threat to Athens may have passed, the neighboring Town of Catskill is confronting another C&DD project from Peckham Industries: an unlined landfill on the shoreline of the Hudson River that would receive 600,000 tons of waste. Although Peckham’s application to the DEC was recently returned as incomplete, the community anxiously awaits further developments.

According to Geologist David Walker, Ph.D of Keep It Greene, it’s no coincidence that these two similar projects landed in the same vicinity. “Athens and Catskill are just pieces of a larger puzzle. There are idle quarries along the Hudson River awaiting some new purpose, and New York City is the source of an enormous C&DD waste stream (twice the tonnage of its municipal waste). With barging cheaper than trucking to transport tons of materials and the Hudson Valley located closer to New York City than alternative sites, such as Seneca Meadows or Rensselaer, the area has been—and will continue to be—targeted for many more of these projects.”

In the weeks and months ahead, the coalition of environmental and community activists who fought the Athens C&D project plans to reach out to other communities fighting similar battles. “Instead of playing ‘Whack-a-Mole’ as these threats arise, we need to organize and push for proactive, comprehensive C&D waste management,” says Catherine Censor, president of Friends of Athens.

It’s a strategy that Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, endorses. “The system worked here because these communities got the facts and got active. This should give everyone in the Hudson River watershed the confidence to fight misbegotten projects like these in their own communities.”


About Keep It Greene and Friends of Athens

Keep It Greene: A non-partisan, grassroots, volunteer organization located in Greene County, NY.

Friends of Athens: A 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation, civic improvement, and beautification of the natural and cultivated landscape in and around the Village of Athens, New York.