The long-awaited meeting between Marilla residents and representatives of the Quasar Energy Group took place Thursday night before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 400 people in the Marilla Firemen’s Recreation Hall.
Although Supervisor George Gertz told people in the overflow crowd their questions would be answered but they had to be civil, most were anything but orderly. Answers from Quasar on environmental issues resulted in hoots and hollers and jeers aimed at quasar and cheers and claps for residents asking questions.
The renewable energy company is seeking permission to rent a million-gallon tank on a local farmer’s land.
The meeting originally was called by the Town Board after a legal notice was put in the local Alden Advertiser on July 4 by the state Department of Environmental Conservation regarding a permit application from local farmer Stanley Travis of Eastwood Road.
Travis wants to store a new form of effluent put out by Quasar, which has built an anaerobic digester on International Drive in West Seneca. The effluent is the final byproduct created from anything that was or can be eaten, such as fats, oils, and grease, plate scrapings from commercial kitchens, food waste, expired beverages such as milk, soda, beer, bio solids from waste-water treatment plants that otherwise would be sent to a land fill and waste products from ethanol or bio-diesel plants.
Quasar representatives Bruce Bailey and Alan Johnson explained the end result is harmful bacteria are destroyed, resulting in a non-infectious product when used for crops such as corn, wheat, soybeans and hay. The digester also breaks down and creates methane gas. Something that would take a landfill 30 years to do can be accomplished by Quasar in 30 days and Quasar sells for electricity.
Residents in Marilla at previous board meetings in July and August had plenty of questions regarding the effect of this end product should it get into the ground water and affect their wells.
Quasar representatives answered the questions and showed a slide of digesters operating in Ohio and Massachusetts. They assured the crowd that they are monitoring weekly, sending reports to the DEC and that there is no odor of the end product any worse than other normal farm operations.
Tanks are checked weekly and taken down if cracks appear.
Bailey said Quasar has environmental policy insurance in place for liability.
One resident yelled out: “Put it on a ballot and let people vote for it.”
Another asked who the other farmer was who had applied for a permit, but Bailey said he would not name him.
Several in the audience said they don’t trust government agencies like the DEC. One man said he grew up in South Buffalo and had to live with industrial waste. Pointing to Bailey, he said, “I respect this man but I don’t trust the product.”
Gertz said, “’I visited Quasar this afternoon. Maybe this is not the product for our community. The public has brought up good points. We will take it back to our work session next Tuesday.”