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Revision of law in Wheatfield aims to bar use of Quasar byproducts

WHEATFIELD – The Town Board is planning to revise the law to try to prevent the use of byproducts from Quasar Energy Group’s plant on the town’s fields.

The board voted Monday to schedule a public hearing at 7 p.m. April 28 on a six-month moratorium on the disposal and storage of sludge, sewage sludge and “derivative products” in the town.

Those terms are meant to include the byproduct from Quasar’s anaerobic digestion plant on Liberty Drive. The plant, which opened last year, processes sewage sludge and food waste into methane gas that can be used to generate electricity.

The byproduct of the process is a nitrogen-rich sludge called “equate” that the company seeks to sell as farm fertilizer. However, environmental regulations say there is a 38-month waiting period before allowing consumption of food that comes in contact with ground where the material is spread or injected.

“You can shut them down,” said William Kraft of Lewiston Residents Against Lagoons, who came to the Wheatfield meeting to offer advice from Lewiston’s battle against Quasar’s proposed lagoons. “But you must be vigilant, and you must go through your town code.”

A map released to The Buffalo News by the state Department of Environmental Conservation shows that a property on Nash Road has a permit to spread equate, as do three parcels between Saunders Settlement and Raymond roads.

The town is considering the hiring of an environmental consultant to help update the law and research answers to questions.

Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe told the audience, “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a quality product, it’s probably a legal product, but I don’t work for Quasar; I work for you.”

More than 400 petition signatures have been handed in by town residents against both the use of equate and Quasar’s proposal to build a 5 million-gallon storage tank behind the digester to hold equate until it can be hauled away. That project was proposed after local towns reacted negatively to plans to dig lagoons to hold the material.

Also, the county sewer district, which has an unused lagoon on Liberty Drive, has turned down a Quasar inquiry about using that for in-ground storage of equate.

Resident Monica Daigler said it seems as if Quasar’s materials are already listed as garbage in the town’s existing ordinances, which limit garbage receptacles to 30 gallons or 60 pounds.

“We’re not so certain the material is encompassed in the town’s existing law,” Town Attorney Robert J. O’Toole said. “That’s one of the reasons for the moratorium, so the law can be amended.”

In addition, the board agreed to trade two old constable cars to Certified Towing for a 2004 Ford Crown Victoria police car with 80,000 miles on it. The town will have to provide $4,000 for the deal.

The board decided to seek bids by April 14 to buy either a Ford Escape or a Chevrolet Equinox for the Building Inspection Department.

Also, the board agreed to have the Wendel engineering firm design and prepare bids for an emergency generator for the community center. Wendel will be paid $15,500, Cliffe said, and the generator is expected to cost about $80,000.