NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Amid rumors of expansion plans and a recent operational hiccup at an anaerobic digestion plant in the Town of West Seneca, lawmakers want a moratorium on new or expanded operations at such facilities.
A local law that Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan introduced will be presented at a public hearing 7 p.m. Monday in Town Hall.
“I asked for the moratorium so we would have this opportunity ... to look into these facilities. I need to know the impact these facilities may have,” Meegan said.
The moratorium would apply to Quasar Energy Group’s plant on North America Drive. Built last year with no opposition or controversy, the plant processes organic wastes - including food byproducts and treated municipal sewage - creating energy-producing biogas and a fertilizer the company calls “equate.”
If approved, the moratorium would be in place for six months. During that time, town officials would look at existing zoning codes to determine whether there are appropriate standards and controls for the siting and regulation of facilities that process and dispose of sludge, sewage sludge and septage.
The moratorium would bar the land application or disposal of such materials in the town.
Meegan also cited a recent incident at the plant that she said left a fellow tenant of the business park “very concerned.”
The night of March 8, a biological reaction inside a tank - where materials are mixed before they’re “cooked” by micro-organisms in a digestion tank - caused a valve on top to open, explained Nathan Carr, a local account executive for Quasar.
“The safety device on the top of our tank functioned as it was designed and released the pressure, which included some foam that dripped down the side of the tank,” Carr said.
Crews wearing waterproof suits pressure-washed the side of the tank, Carr said. Quasar notified the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“They were out to ensure everything was cleaned to their satisfaction,” Carr said.
The DEC has not responded to queries from The Buffalo News about the March 8 incident.
West Seneca officials also want answers about Quasar’s plans for the equate.
“They had a plan ‘A,’ but plan ‘B’ was never addressed. Where’s the end product going?” Meegan asked.
Quasar has another plant in the Town of Wheatfield. During the past several months, community opposition has thwarted the company’s proposals for storage lagoons or tanks in Niagara County, although equate already has been injected in numerous farmers fields there.
Meanwhile, the DEC may face a legal challenge from the Town of Marilla over a permit it issued to a farmer to store equate in a large concrete tank. The town has extended a moratorium it enacted last fall relating to solid waste and recycling, and the disposal of sewage and sewage sludge.
Carr said there are no plans to build a storage tank at the West Seneca facility or any other expansion.