Marilla residents to fight sludge storage on their land - The Buffalo News
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Marilla residents to fight sludge storage on their land

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has authorized a permit for a fertilizer storage tank on a farm in Marilla, where black, red and white skull and crossbones signs in opposition to the material have popped up over the past few months.

The tank would store bio-solids from Quasar Energy digesters at a concrete holding tank on the Eastwood Road farm of Stanley Travis, town residents learned Tuesday night at a Town Board work session.

Marilla residents are expected to fill its Town Hall meeting room tonight to find out how the Town Board is going to continue to fight against sludge storage and potential spreading of sludge on farmland in the town.

Residents had waited months for the DEC to make a decision. Most in attendance didn’t like what they heard nor were they happy to hear there are 18 more applications in the pipeline to spread the digestate, which is left over from the Quasar Energy disgesters after biogas is formed. The applications differ from Travis’ because they are asking for a permit to spread the digestate or bio-solid on farmland in Marilla, Elma and Bennington.

Quasar produces bio-gas from food wastes and processed waste from water treatment plants. The gas is used to produce electricity. Quasar says the material that remains is a liquid fertilizer that can be used on farmland, but only on fields that have permits and land that is not frozen. That’s why Quasar wants to use Travis’ holding tank during the winter when the ground is frozen and also during a period when crops are already in the ground.

Quasar has permits from the DEC to operate two digesters, one in West Seneca and one in Niagara Falls.

Travis’ permit allows Quasar to bring what it calls digestate from both facilities. But spreading the product requires a different permit and doesn’t apply to the one granted for Travis’ tank.

Six months ago, Marilla enacted a six-month moratorium against solid waste storage based on its zoning code that prohibits the storage by anyone except the town of Marilla.

The board and many residents are hoping this will hold up and block Travis from accepting any truckloads of the product from Quasar.

Marilla Supervisor Earl Gingerich Jr. said he will fight Quasar with an injunction if even one drop of sludge goes into Travis’ tank. The board is expected to vote tonight to extend the moratorium another six months that will take it into October.

According to the DEC, it is up to the local municipality to determine if the storage project is consistent with local zoning codes and, if not, whether zoning variances or changes will be granted to allow the project to proceed.

According to town meetings on the subject, changes in variances is highly unlikely.

Of the applications for 18 fields to the DEC, one is from a Marilla farmer Leonard Janiga, who owns several hundred acres on Jamison Road and rents out many more from other property owners.

His name was released at the DEC meeting with Marilla boards when a DEC member mentioned Rick Janiga, also a farmer and member of the Planning Board. He quickly denied being the Janiga that has applied for the permit pointing out “That’s my brother.”

A list of all the applicants is expected to be delivered to Supervisor Earl Gingerich Jr. by the end of this week.

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