NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Many people in North Tonawanda have deep concerns about constant noise and the air quality in their neighborhood. It’s all because of a Bitcoin mining facility nearby. Now, residents are asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to step in.
Digihost has been operating at the Fortistar Power Plant for just over a year. The climate advocacy group EarthJustice says the mine’s carbon emissions are high and the plant’s air pollution is projected to skyrocket.
Neighbors across the street from the plant say they were dealing with significant noise, air and light pollution because of the mine.
“Pretty constant hum noise all day and all throughout the night,” Elliott Kennedy told News 4. “Putting a factory next to a residential neighborhood isn’t the best thing to do period I would say. Either relocate or shut it down.”
The company was asked to put up a sound barrier because of the loud noises neighbors were hearing all day long.
“It was like piercing. It was hard to sleep at night,” Paul Hoover added. “They also have a light right here that is really bright and blasts right into my bedroom window, which is really convenient.”
Residents are still worried, though, that the plant isn’t operating at full capacity right now and that the noise could return.
“I think the wall has helped when I’ve heard it running, it does muffle the noise. My concern is once they start going 24/7, what’s it going to be like,” John Hahn said.
North Tonawanda Mayor Austin Tylec says he proposed a moratorium on the project when he got into office to sort these problems out, but that was denied. He also said Digihost is trying to be a good neighbor and agreed to put up the barrier along Erie Ave., but it does not wrap around the entire footprint yet.
“We saw some effort on their end to mitigate sound, but the emission piece, that really goes beyond our local level of government,” Tylec said.
The non-profit EarthJustice says the DEC still hasn’t approved a Clean Air Permit for the site. The organization sent a letter to Gov. Hochul asking her to deny it.
“If the Title 5 permit for the facility is denied, the facility should not be able to operate. They do have the opportunity to appeal that decision to the Department of Environmental Conservation,” Jessamine De Ocampo, associate attorney for EarthJustice, said.
EarthJustice and residents are waiting to see if the air permit is granted or denied by the DEC. News 4 reached out to the DEC and Digihost and have not heard back.
The NYSDEC released the following statement Tuesday morning:
DEC subjects every permit application to all applicable federal and State standards to ensure the agency’s decisions are protective of public health and the environment.NYSDEC
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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.