Wheatfield Residents Question Bio-Energy Plant Expansion With Storage Tank

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Wheatfield, NY - The proposed expansion of a bio-energy plant in the town of Wheatfield is raising questions among residents who fear it could have an impact on their community.

Wheatfield resident Julie Otto wants to know why the site on Liberty Drive needs a 5 million gallon storage tank for sludge.

The firm calls it equate. It's a byproduct of the existing plant which takes food waste, fats, oils, grease, and treated residue from sewer plants and processes it under a DEC permit to generate biogas like methane for energy production.

Now the company wants town approval for onsite storage for the sludge, which would be applied as fertilizer on farm fields.

Quasar's Nate Carr says "This is a product that has been proven through this time of 30 years and studied extensively to be safe."

Wheatfield town supervisor Robert Cliffe visited Quasar's Ohio operations and saw no problem with the actual sludge, which the DEC says is non-hazardous. But the location worries him if that tank would rupture or leak.

"It's within 100 feet of a creek which goes directly to the Niagara River. So you'd be putting a whole lot of nitrogen and a whole lot of phosphorous and whatever other materials are in that tank at that time," said Cliffe.

Carr says they feel that the tank can be safeguarded against leaks and that sandbags could be used to prevent any spill from reaching the creek or the river.

Supervisor Cliffe still feels there should be a six month moratorium to study the proposed expansion with an independent consultant. The town board will hold a hearing on April 28th to discuss the idea of that six month hold.

"I am a cancer survivor and I feel very compelled...I'm not one to get wrapped up in issues but I feel very compelled to speak out on this. Because if people get sick and if kids end up having to go to the hospital or an ill effect...and if I didn't speak up I'd feel horrible," said Otto.

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