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2005 Environmental Excellence Award Winners

Project Name: NBA/Ethyl Lactate Replacement

Applicant: Philips Semiconductors Fishkill, Hopewell Junction, NY (Dutchess County)

Description of Project/Benefits: Philips Semiconductors, Hopewell Junction, Dutchess County, was honored for an innovative project that permanently reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions to the air. Philips replaced two highly volatile solvents used in the photolithograph process with a single solvent having much lower volatility. This replacement resulted in a 44 percent reduction of overall VOC emissions.

The project involved the substitution of Propylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether Acetate (PGMEA) for N Butyl Acetate (NBA) and Ethyl Lactate in the photolithography process. The solvents used previously were highly volatile, resulting in annual VOC air emission of 84,500 pounds (42.25 tons). The substitution of PGMEA, a solvent which is significantly less volatile, resulted in a reduction of overall VOC emission of 36,980 pounds (18.49 tons) per year.

As a result of the project, the waste stream (the PGMEA solvent plus excess photo coating material) was reclassified as non-hazardous waste because PGMEA is considered non-flammable, as opposed to NBA and Ethyl Lactate. In 2004, the previous hazardous waste stream totaled 250,000 pounds. An additional benefit of the project was a one chemical distribution system was made available for future process realizing a $250K capital avoidance.

The implementation of this project can be replicated by other semiconductor manufacturers, which must deal with the same problems of contamination versus yield in the photolithography process. Philips Semiconductors has been sharing the results of this project with other Philips manufacturing locations, through company sponsored sustainability coordinators workshops.

Project Name: A Landfill Gas Management Success Story

Applicant: Modern Landfill, Inc., Model City, NY (Niagara County)

Description of Projects/Benefits: Modern Landfill, Inc. Model City, Niagara County, was honored for their unique partnership that turned landfill gas into a key driving force in a partnership of facilities that are, together, unique in New York State. The landfill gas is converted to electricity that powers the facility, supplies the power grid, and provides heat and light to the green house complex growing hydroponic tomatoes. This project demonstrates innovative use of an alternative energy source for meeting power needs and for sustainable food production.

The gas from Modern Landfill is used to generate 5.6 megawatts of electricity by Model City Energy that is sold back to the New York power grid. In addition, the heat generated in the process of burning the gas in Caterpillar internal combustion engines creates waste heat, which is also captured in another recovery process. This heat and a small fraction of the electricity generated are then used to heat and light an adjacent hydroponic greenhouse complex, "H2Gro", where vine-ripened tomatoes are grown and profitably marketed. What separates this project from other landfill gas utilization projects is that not only is the landfill gas being used for electricity production, but this project uniquely captures waste heat as additional energy for greenhouse operations.

For Modern Landfill, the environmental benefits chiefly pertain to a highly effective control of fugitive emissions of landfill gas. Since Model City Energy started operations in 2001 and as H2Gro came on line through 2004, the calculated fugitive landfill gas emissions have been cut by 85 percent. In 2001 and again in 2005, Modern made very significant additions to its gas collection system which were not required by its New York State Title V air permit. By looking beyond the minimum regulatory requirements, Modern has come up with a project to maximize the beneficial aspects of this pollution control requirement to create jobs, a useful product, additional revenue and a source of pride for itself and its community.

H2Gro, LLC (H2Gro) is a hydroponic greenhouse operation located adjacent to Modern Landfill. The facility houses 7.5 acres of hydroponic, temperature-controlled greenhouses, a 28,000 square foot packhouse/office facility and a 6,000 square foot utilities management facility. H2Gro grows vine ripened, hydroponic tomatoes. The facility produces on average 10,000 pounds of product per day, for a total amount over 3.5 million pounds per year. The energy needs of H2Gro are met without using any fossil fuels. In terms of its heat needs, the procurement of heated water is a pollutant-free process. Water and nutrients for plant growth are also conserved at H2Gro. Nutrient-laden water is recirculated throughout the system. The facility includes ultraviolet sterilization so that water that has already passed through the growing media can be safely used once again. In addition, the facility captures both internal condensation and rainwater from gutters atop the greenhouse and uses that water, once sterilized, to make up for losses due to evapotranspiration.

Although the partnership of a landfill with a hydroponic greenhouse might seem unique, others can replicate this type of project. All that is needed is an abundant low cost fuel source, nearby vacant land, a market for the product and a desire to try something different.

Project Name: City of Glen Cove Water Pollution Control Plant Biological Nutrient Removal

Applicant: City of Glen Cove, Glen Cove, NY (Nassau County)

Description of Project/Benefits: The City of Glen Cove Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) discharges into the western portion (Hempstead Harbor) of the Long Island Sound (LIS) from the north shore of Long Island. As a result of severe hypoxia conditions in this section of the Sound, the NYSDEC, has imposed new nitrogen discharge limits in order to reduce nutrient loading and resulting hypoxia effects on the Sound.

The new State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit limitation required the City's WPCP to reduce its nitrogen discharge by 25% by 2004 and by 63.8% by 2014. The City contracted the design services of Cameron Engineering and Camp Dresser & McKee in order to accomplish this task. The design team provided innovative design and construction related services in order to accomplish the new effluent limitations within the existing plant infrastructure. The design called for modifications to the existing eight (8) aeration tanks. Modifications included permanent concrete baffles for anoxic mixing zones, moveable baffle curtains for alternating anoxic/oxic zones, new mixers, new fine air fixed grid diffuser system and a new energy efficient feedback controlled blower.

Continuous data recording and monitoring indicate that the plant is now operating well below the 2014 permit limits and has provided the largest reduction of point source nitrogen loading to the Long Island Sound in Nassau County.

The project proved to be highly successful and was completed within budget and prior to the 2004 nitrogen effluent limitations. The 2004 effluent limitations for nitrogen are 665 pounds per day while the 2014 effluent nitrogen limitations will be 323 pounds per day. Since the project was completed in December of 2003, typical effluent nitrogen levels have been below 300 pounds per day thereby meeting the goals of the 2014 permit requirements. The project has also resulted in more flexible plant operations and reduced operating costs while achieving tertiary levels of treatment.

The project exceeded the owner's needs by providing a retrofit of the existing WPCP to accomplish nitrogen removal in response to new SPDES Permit regulations. The project not only met the long term 2014 nitrogen removal goals for the City's WPCP, but has enabled this area of the Long Island Sound to meet its 2004 nitrogen removal goals based on the removals achieved by the City of Glen Cove WPCP alone. The operating costs at the plant have been reduced as a result of high efficiency equipment, complex process control loops and a reduction in chemical usage for unit processes. The project was completed prior to the revised permit requirements and within the Bond Act budget allocation.

The project has served as a model of success for future plant upgrades within the Long Island Sound study area, demonstrating that nutrients contributing to hypoxia can be substantially reduced in a cost effective manner.

Project Name: Materials for the Arts - Reuse Program

Applicant: Materials for the Arts, Long Island City, NY (Queens)

Description of Project/Benefits: Materials for the Arts (MFTA), located in Long Island City, Queens County, was honored for developing and operating New York City's oldest reuse program. This innovative program supports the arts and the environment by collecting a wide range of material from the public and business communities. Materials are available at no cost to students, teachers and everyone in the arts.

MFTA promotes reuse and spreads the important ecological message of waste reduction to tens of thousands of people annually. Representatives of over 3,000 registered recipient organizations visit the MFTA warehouse and attend professional development workshops annually. MFTA keeps hundreds of tons of valuable materials out of the waste stream every year. In 2004, 741 tons (valued at $4.5 million) were collected for redistribution to New York City not-for-profit institutions and public schools.

MFTA picks up donations from corporations, businesses, showrooms, private homes, not-for-profit organizations and government agencies in the NYC metro area. MFTA provides these donors with the opportunity to redirect items otherwise headed for the waste stream. In addition to bringing materials into the warehouse, MFTA has created an online Direct Donations program, allowing donors to post notices of available items on their web site for recipient groups to view. A shopping visit to the MFTA warehouse affords recipients access to a wide variety of materials unequaled anywhere in New York City. Where else could an educator or a set designer pick up wood, paper, paint, buttons, cardboard, art books, compact discs, video tapes, feathers and lumber--all under one roof? The quantity and quality of materials available is unprecedented and it is all free.

In 2002, MFTA expanded their outreach efforts and developed an educational program to inform the public about the value and importance of reuse. This program addressed the fact that once recipients obtain materials, they must be taught how to use them. MFTA's workshops educate participants about reuse and waste reduction, issues that are of critical importance in New York City, New York State and across the nation. It is the success of the educational outreach to schools and community groups that has led to the formalization of the Reuse Education Program.

MFTA is an excellent national model for inter-agency collaborations. The organization illustrates that partnerships in government can accomplish remarkable things such as: manage limited resources; redirect materials out of the waste stream; educate a new generation about reuse through the public schools and support the cultural community. In fact, other organizations around the country have already used MFTA as a model or inspiration for the creation of reuse or materials exchange programs. Several municipal governments have established programs modeled specifically on Materials for the Arts, including Los Angeles and Atlanta (also named Materials for the Arts) and Houston SCRAP: Salvageable, Consumable, Recyclable Arts Parts.

Project Name: Reverse Osmosis Upgrade Project

Applicant: Selkirk Cogen Partners, L.P., Selkirk, NY (Albany County)

Description of Project/Benefits: Selkirk Cogen Partners, L.P. in Selkirk, Albany County, was honored for a pollution prevention and water conservation project. A reverse osmosis (RO) system was installed which reduced chemical use and the potential for spills of caustics and acids used in the previous water treatment system. The project also reduced the amount of water used and waste water generated at the facility.

The Selkirk Cogeneration Project (SCP) is a 345 Megawatt (MW) natural gas fired combined cycle cogeneration facility located on the GE Advanced Materials (GEAM) site in Selkirk, New York. The facility supplies steam to GEAM and electric capacity to Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., New York Independent System Operator, and other third party energy-marketing entities.

In the summer of 2003, as part of on-going efforts to minimize pollution and improve project economics, SCP committed to the installation of a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system upstream of the existing demineralization system to treat its incoming water from the Town of Bethlehem. The primary motivation for the project was SCP's goal to minimize the potential for chemical spills associated with the large amounts of acid and caustic used at the facility in the regeneration of the ion exchange demineralizers.

The RO project achieved several environmental benefits. It has significantly reduced the total amount of wastewater generated at the site and has reduced facility water usage. The RO system also significantly reduced the amount of caustic and acid stored and used at the facility for water treatment and reduced the total bulk chemical unloadings (over 100 bulk tanker truck transfers were eliminated), thereby reducing the potential for chemical spills. This reduction represented significant risk mitigation in terms of transportation risk and associated potential releases. Employee safety was also improved due to the risk mitigation associated with the reduced number of unloading activities.

Through chemical usage reduction, wastewater reduction and reduced raw water consumption, the RO project has increased the sustainability of natural resources. The project demonstrated SCP's willingness to make significant capital investments in technology to realize operational efficiencies with inherent environmental and economic benefits.

The project is directly transferable to many other existing power plants both in and outside of New York State. Additionally, other industrial process sites, which purify significant amounts of water, may benefit from the significant system efficiency increase and the corresponding environmental and economic benefits.

Project Name: Zero POTW Metal Discharge Project

Applicant: Homogeneous Metals, Inc., Clayville, NY 13322 (Oneida County)

Description of Project/Benefits: Homogeneous Metals, Inc.'s (HMI) business is classified as a foundry. Historically, foundries and metal powder producers have been considered "difficult" from an environmental and safety point of view. HMI rejects that notion and consistently demonstrates a commitment to give Environmental Health & Safety issues equal importance to quality, operational, and financial goals.

Since 1999, HMI has routinely been 50% or more below the allowable daily and monthly limits for chromium and nickel. Good source capture and dust collection had worked well to reduce the amount of material that could be released to the POTW. In May and September of 2003, the facility received notices of violation to permit levels from Oneida County. The facility took immediate action to identify and understand the root cause of the issue. The goal that was to go beyond compliance limits and to achieve zero emissions of nickel and chromium to the sewer.

The main source of the nickel and chromium was determined to be from mop water. As a world class manufacturing facility, HMI practices extensive cleanliness, which includes daily mopping, and wiping of all production areas. Since the materials produced can be as fine as smoke, metal powder sometimes escapes the dust collection system and is captured in the mop water. To contain the mop water and prevent its release to the POTW, the facility capped all floor drains and to invested in an evaporator.

The project cost was about $80,000 and included the purchase of an 174-gallon capacity evaporator, the plumbing of all sinks to the evaporator, and the plumbing of several production processes to the evaporator. Today, over 2,000 gallons of mop water per month is processed through the evaporator leaving a sludge that is properly managed and disposed of.

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