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Settling Basins 9-15 Closure Plan: Virtual Public Meeting/Public Comment

Settling Basins 9-15 Closure Plan: Virtual Public Meeting/Public Comment

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Shrub Willows Harvested from Solvay Settling Basin in Camillus to Produce Sustainable, Green Energy

Honeywell and SUNY-ESF Innovative Biomass Project Can Return Solvay Settling Basin to Productive Use

Honeywell and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) today began harvesting one acre of shrub willows on Solvay Settling Basin #13 in Camillus.  The innovative project is designed to develop sustainable, green energy and create a living cover for the settling basins.  Honeywell and ESF officials are pleased with the success of the pilot project.

For the next week, the shrubs will be cut, stacked, weighed, sampled for moisture and energy content, chipped and transported to the Lyonsdale Biomass Plant in Lyons Falls, N.Y., for use as a biomass fuel for its 19-megawatt electric power facility.

ESF graduate students cut and weigh recently harvested shrub willows before chopping them and transporting them to the Lyonsdale Biomass Plant.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Camillus town officials joined Honeywell and ESF in a tour to observe the harvesting process.

Camillus town officials touring the shrub willow harvesting with Honeywell Syracuse Program Director John McAuliffe and ESF President, Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr. (far right) included: Camillus Town Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan; Greater Camillus Chamber of Commerce President Kathy Kitt; Camillus Town Zoning Board Chair Robert Feyl; Camillus Councilman Bill Davern; West Genesee High School Science Teacher Karen Kotlar; Bill Krist and Brittany King from Modern Woodman of America; and Camillus Chamber of Commerce Member Cyndee Sharpe.

“The town of Camillus is excited to be home to this important and innovative project that, if it continues to be successful, will provide long-term benefits to both the community and the environment,” said Camillus Town Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan.

“Honeywell and ESF have a long history of partnering in Central New York,” said Honeywell Syracuse Program Director John McAuliffe. “The sustainable and renewable shrub willow biomass project illustrates the creative and innovative projects that we can bring to the communities around Onondaga Lake.”

The rapid growing shrubs were planted in spring 2004 as part of a pilot project to develop an alternative living cover for the remaining, undeveloped Solvay Settling Basins.

“We, at ESF, are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Honeywell on this innovative and sustainable biomass project,” added ESF President, Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr. “We also want to recognize Congressman Jim Walsh for his long-standing efforts in supporting our biomass research and demonstration program.”

After the shrub willows are harvested and weighed, they are cut into small wood chips prior to being shipped to the Lyonsdale Biomass Plant.

Based on the success of the pilot, future biomass crops would:

  • reduce the amount of salt and runoff from the Solvay waste carried by normal regional rainfall that sinks into the groundwater, which flows into Nine Mile Creek and Onondaga Lake;
  • increase the diversity of vegetation and wildlife on the settling basins;
  • and turn the settling basins into an area that could sustainably produce woody biomass for the production of renewable, green energy and biofuels in Syracuse.

Preliminary modeling also shows that the shrub willows can substantially reduce the amount of water that percolates through the settling basin and into the groundwater and Onondaga Lake.

Similar to common shrubs, pruning the shrub willows every three years allows them to re-sprout with new growth in the spring.  Each shrub can be harvested at least seven times before replanting.

Prior to harvesting the shrubs, willow chips were tested at an independent New York State certified laboratory. There were no detections of mercury, chlorobenzenes or other hazardous compounds.

More than 35,000 willows have been planted on the settling basin. Honeywell and ESF plan to plant additional willow shrubs on Solvay Settling Basins #9-15.

Lyonsdale Biomass, LLC is a biomass wood-fired energy plant. The facility receives more than 260,000 green tons (wood chips, lumber scraps, etc.) and produces electricity for delivery to the New York Independent System Operator and steam flow to Burrows Paper Corporation. The Lyonsdale facility consumes an average of 700 tons of wood chips per day for fuel.

For more information on the Onondaga Lake cleanup, visit