Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — PENDLETON — The Pendleton Town Hall meeting room was standing room only during a public hearing about Quasar Energy Group Thursday.
A representative from Quasar was on hand to address the various concerns residents offered about the use of equate, a sewage sludge by-product which the company produces through anaerobic digestion.
Although many residents voiced their favor of instating a ban on sludge, sewage sludge or similar derivative products, similar to the one the town of Wheatfield is looking to implement, issuing one could have unintended consequences and lead to more problems, Town Supervisor James Riester said.
Issuing a ban on equate, which is touted as a highly effective fertilizer, could infringe upon New York’s Right to Farm Act. If the product was prohibited and a farmer filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the town could have to fight officials in Albany to preserve the ban, Riester said.
“We need to devise an ordinance to protect the town, applying restrictions to protect the people of the town,” Riester said.
The Department of Environmental Conservation issued Quasar a permit to use equate as a fertilizer in Pendleton last July.
Nathan Carr, the biomass account executive for Quasar who attended Thursday’s hearing, said that the product is applied to fields once a year, either in spring or fall. Quasar needs permission from land owners before they can apply the product.
Quasar’s standards for equate are “stricter than state or government regulations”, Carr said.
“We have quality controls in place and we do regular soil testing, to make sure only the nutrients needed are going into the soil,” Carr said.
Ten farm properties in Niagara County have DEC permits to apply equate onto their fields, one of them in Pendleton.
The owner of the field in Pendleton has announced that he no longer plans to have equate applied this year, although using the fertilizer would have saved him between $20 to $200 per acre in fertilizing costs, Riester said.