County Takes Wait & See Approach To Slaughterhouse Proposal

OSWEGO, NY – County lawmakers will heed the advice of the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District when it comes to dealing with Bion Environmental Technologies.

The company is proposing to build what could be the largest beef slaughter operation in the country somewhere in Oswego County.

If the plan becomes a reality, it would bring more than 70,000 head of beef cattle into the county.

“As it stands today, what has been presented by Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc., leaves many unanswered questions as to the impact to our soil and water resources, should such an operation be placed here in Oswego County,” Sam Weber, SWCD chair, wrote to County Administrator Phil Church.

“There has been no decision made about this project. There has been no site identified for this project,” according to L. Michael Treadwell, director of Operation Oswego County.

Under the proposal, there would be more than 70,000 head of cattle housed somewhere in the county. There would be an estimated 400 jobs created at the slaughterhouse, as well as close to 200 “support positions.”

The SWCD board of directors understands the need and desire for developing new businesses, bringing in quality jobs and increased revenues; but, with such a suggested large facility of this nature with its new technology (no other like it in the country), careful review is in order, Weber’s letter continued.

“We recommend that Oswego County request any and/all relevant documentation (i.e. an environmental impact study) that would provide for an unbiased position of warranty of protection to not only our natural resources but to the local community as well,” Weber said.

At its meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Port of Oswego Authority, the county’s Economic Development and Planning Committee voted to obtain further information before taking any action regarding Bion’s proposal.

“We have also had the Environmental Management Council involved in a study of the presentation by Bion,” said committee chair Morris Sorbello. “They are looking into this and we hope they’ll submit a report at a later time. I think, personally, right now that we should wait for that report.”

Legislator Jack Beckwith agreed and made a motion to wait for more information before proceeding. Legislator Shawn Doyle seconded the motion and the committee approved it.

Legislator Art Ospelt agreed in principle, but said he’d rather see things moving forward so the legislature could vote one way or another.

“I think there are a couple of things you need to grasp. This is a very sophisticated, very intricate system. There are many questions that have to be answered before this goes forward,” Eric Behling, president of the Oswego County Farm Bureau, told legislators recently.

Barry Leemann, chair of the Oswego County Legislature, agrees.

“We want to get some more information from Bion, basic stuff,” he said.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions. We need to know the basics of how this thing is going to operate before we even consider taking any action on it,” Sorbello told the committee on Tuesday.