Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Residents from nearby municipalities attended Monday’s town meeting to implore the board not to do business with Quasar Energy Group, a company that produces liquid fertilizer made partially from human waste.
“We are very concerned about the contamination of our land, and we don’t want anyone to get sick,” Julie Otto, of Sanborn, said.
Residents in several Niagara County towns, most prominently Wheatfield, fiercely opposed using the substance, known as equate, a fertilizer derived from what the company describes as “biosolids.”
At the board’s last meeting, the body approved agreements with Quasar and Modern Landfill Inc. The town is still considering its options, but awarded both contracts in order to begin the process, officials said. Members of the Wheatfield Town Council have pledged to ban the spreading of equate and other elected officials, including state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, have urged other municipalities in the area to do the same.
Quasar’s anaerobic digestion facilities accept sludge from wastewater treatment plants, manure, oils, food waste and other materials. The plant grinds the biomasses into smaller pieces and sends them through a digestion process that can take up to 30 days to complete. After the treatment is complete, biogas, which can be converted into electricity, is produced, as well as a liquid material that can be used as a fertilizer on farms.
The issue has proved to be highly controversial. In May, Amherst stopped sending its sludge to the Quasar plant and and other municipalities have banned the storage and spread of the company’s fertilizer.
Quasar would cost Tonawanda $33 per wet ton delivered to the company’s plant in Wheatfield and $31.50 to its facility in West Seneca. Modern Landfill would take the town’s biosolids for $34.75 per wet ton.
The town previously burned the solid waste itself, but keeping up with state Department of Environmental Conservation mandates would have cost $5.6 million. Instead, contractors are completing an addition at the wastewater treatment plant so that the town can transport the solid waste off site. Construction is expected to be complete in August.