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Apr 08 - Apr 15, 2014

Quasar Pitch for Sludge Lagoons Falls Short in Wheatfield Session

By Tony Farina

April 08, 2014

Quasar, the Cleveland-based energy group that recycles energy for profit from everything that goes down the drain (human waste, sewer sludge, and other residuals), did its best to sell its biological waste lagoons Monday (April 7) night to about 120 people at the Wheatfield Community Center, but reports from that meeting suggest they received a very cool reception.

"They seemed to avoid using words like sewage, and seemed to talk around the questions that were being asked about health and safety concerns," said one person who attended the meeting but did not wish to be identified. "I don't think they convinced anyone that taking their storage tanks in Wheatfield is a good idea. The crowd was mostly unreceptive."

It was a similar reaction on Saturday morning (April 4) at the Shawnee Fire Hall on Lockport Rd. when some 200 opponents of Quasar spreading sewage sludge on farmlands got together to compare notes and vent their displeasure at the process and at the state DEC for issuing permits to Sustainable Bioelectric LLC in Wheatfield to apply material emanating from anaerobic digestion facilities at multiple sites owned by Milleville Brothers Farm in Niagara County.

State Sen. George Maziarz (R-Newfane), attended Saturday's session and said his goal is to stop the process in its tracks.

"I was extremely upset that these permits were issued," said Maziarz. "My first goal is to get the DEC to do a moratorium. Wilson has voted on a moratorium already. A full moratorium for all of Western New York is my plan."

Assemblyman John Ceretto (R-Lewiston), vowed to do all he can to roll back the Quasar sludge lagoons in the interest of future generations.

"Public safety and health are my top number one priority as an elected official," Ceretto told the Saturday morning crowd strongly opposed to the Quasar plan. "We will fight to keep them [Quasar] out of here to insure our soil and waterways are safe for our children."

Despite Quasar's insistence again at Monday night's session that their sludge lagoons are no public safety threat, opposition continues to build. Lewiston Supervisor Dennis Brochey said he plans to stop the Quasar incursion.

"I have been in contact with an environmental attorney and, if need be, I am going to ask the Town Board to allow me to bring him aboard and put him in charge of fighting this," Brochey said in a statement.

"There are four properties in the Town of Lewiston that have DEC permits allowing them to put 'equate' there. But in our code book, it is not allowed in the town. I said to Quasar, 'you picked the wrong county. We don't trust anybody when it comes to environmental issues. We have Love Canal! We have enough stuff on our land; I don't want to find out 20 – 30 years from now that Equate is not safe and then it is too late. The truth of the matter is, it needs more research."

Brochey said the people of Lewiston don't want Quasar, and they don't want Equate, and "we're going to fight this."

Equate is what Quasar calls the fertilizer it produces in its Wheatfield and "West Seneca facilities, and is described as a natural NPK supplement designed for agriculture land application. Quasar calls it an ecofriendly alternative to traditional fertilizer options such as land application of manure or chemical fertilizers. According to the company's website, equate is a product of anaerobic digestion, a natural process where microorganisms break down organic material in the absence of oxygen. The process creates two products: energy and equate. The gases resulting from anaerobic digestion are used to create domestic renewable energy (sold for profit), while equate, while containing valuable nutrients and organic matter, is applied to farm fields for agronomic benefit.

William Kraft, of Lewiston, had this to say at Saturday's meeting about the whole process of using sewer sludge and all that goes down the drain, including human waste:

"People move into rural areas expecting a clean, peaceful environment and to enjoy their properties. They are being compromised by Quasar and DEC allowing equate to be installed. We moved to the country to raise our families, enjoy our land, and be left alone, away from big business. This fight now about restricting (fertilizer options) the farmers, it is about contaminating the soil."





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