By Richard J. Bayne
January 17. 2015 9:53PM
WAWAYANDA – A coalition of environmental groups Saturday joined with neighbors who say they would be harmed by a proposed gas-fired power-generating plant and the chief of a local Native American tribe to stage a Martin Luther King weekend protest against the $900 million project.
“It’s a civil right to have clean air and clean water,” said Melanie Gold of Greenwood Lake.
Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough-Lenape Tribe talked about “environmental genocide.” “You’ve all become Indians now,” Perry said. “That’s how they’re treating you.”
About 75 people gathered at the intersection of Dolson Avenue and Route 6 for an hour-long rally protesting the proposed, 640-megawatt Competitive Power Ventures plant. They raised the specter of toxic emissions and damage to archeological sites. CPV wants to locate the power-generating plant on a 122-acre site that would be bounded by Route 6, Route 17M and I-84.
Plans call for the plant to occupy 30 acres, said Steve Remillard, CPV’s vice president for development. The remaining 92 acres would be buffer.
In a telephone interview Saturday night, Remillard responded to the protesters’ concerns, saying his firm has had “reams” of analysis done and “very rigorous” modeling on air quality, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation has given its OK. He said the Town of Wawayanda had an air-quality expert do a review.
Remillard said the proposed plant has been going through the review process since 2008, and that a number of agencies have given the plans an OK. He said CPV is very close to obtaining final review. “We’re on the 1-yard line,” he said.
Another key issue the protesters raised Saturday is archeological significance, including proximity to homes of early European settlers and Fort Dolson, and the possibility of disturbing Native American burial grounds.
A consultant hired by Remillard’s firm concluded that “no significant archaeological resources have been identified” on the proposed CPV site.
At Saturday’s demonstration, many protesters expressed concerns that emissions would harm residents who live nearby. They said many parts of the Hudson Valley would be affected, and farming in the Black Dirt Region could be destroyed.
“This valley is like a bowl, said Pramilla Malick of Westtown, who led Saturday’s demonstration. “The air gets trapped.”
Joan Sichterman, a retired Orange-Ulster BOCES teacher who lives in Wawayanda, about two miles from the proposed site, said she would have to move if the plant were to go into operation. “The life I have built will be over,” she said.