by Susan Mikula Campbell
Quasar Energy Group's local representative Nate Carr is usually a minority of one at Wheatfield Town Board meetings when use of the company's equate as a farm fertilizer is discussed.
At Monday's board meeting, he brought reinforcements in the form of the Ohio-based company's Vice President for Technical Affairs Bruce Bailey and attorney Paul Keneally. The message was that the anaerobic digestion facility on Liberty Drive is not going to be driven out of town, and the town's moratorium and proposed ban on use of equate and building of a storage facility could be facing lawsuits.
Keneally said Quasar followed all laws in establishing its facility and that the state Department of Environmental Conservation approval did not find any environmental impact whatsoever. Any local law needs to be based on facts and science, he said, noting that Quasar already has made a significant investment locally and the company is constantly improving and tweaking its process and product.
"This is not some brand new idea," he said. "(It is) a better version of an idea that has been around for 30 years."
"We stand behind our product," Bailey said, noting that the company carries environmental impairment insurance that has never been used. "What we have here is public perception."
He suggested residents investigate real scientific studies and proven data "rather than just finding the most inflammatory articles they can find on the Internet."
Wheatfield residents against Quasar were more than ready to fight back. They argue that equate, which contains processed human waste, could end up being another Love Canal for the area.
"I have no proof from you that your process is safe or your final product is safe," said Laurie Galbo.
Julie Otto wanted to know why there was a link for Quasar information on the town's website and why there wasn't one for Wheatfield Against Sludge. She also suggested that "gasification," which breaks down biosolids in a different way might be a better means of handling human waste sludge in this area.
Monica Daigler said residents don't have many concerns with the anaerobic digestion process, which creates energy from waste, but do have many concerns about the land application and possible future effects on the environment.
"It's all spin and misinformation," John Wozniak accused the Quasar officials, adding that DEC can't always be trusted and asking where the DEC experts were when it came to Tonawanda Coke.
In other matters:
•Matt Montalbo from Drescher & Malecki presented a report on the town's Dec. 31, 2013, independent audit.
Fund balances in all accounts are in good shape, he said.
"Your spending is not much above what it was in 2009," he said. "I think your (fund balance) levels are at a reasonably healthy spot to handle future challenges."
•Supervisor Bob Cliffe commented on the passing of former board meeting regular Donald G. Hobel, 85. A founding member of the board of directors of the Niagara Aerospace Museum, Hobel died July 10 in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness.
•The board agreed to have the town attorney initiate a lawsuit against the North Tonawanda Little League to recover the cost of damages to the Youth Center gym when a stray baseball hit a sprinkler system valve.
•Any action on a proposed public hearing on the Cobblestone Creek Cluster Development was delayed when the board failed to move or second the motion.
"Make sure the drainage is there," cautioned one nearby resident prior to the call for a vote.
The project, which has been under discussion for more than a year, would be located in the area of Errick and Ward roads and Lemke Drive. It proposes four single home residences fronting on Errick Road and 39 senior living patio homes behind them.
•Cliffe reported that the town finally has received state approval to establish a school zone at Errick Road School. The speed limit will only go down to 25 mph, but will help keep children and parents picking them up safe, he said.
•The board agreed to sell mulch made from pickup of trees branches and clippings to town residents at a cost of $10 per load picked up or $30 delivered. Millings from roadwork will be sold at $5 per ton.
•The board accepted the resignation of Jonathon Doucet as constable and appointed Andrew Donner in his place. The hiring of Crystal Prouty and Michael Reed as recreation aides also was approved.
•The next regular Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 28. Prior to the meeting, a public hearing has been scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on a proposed amendment to town code relating to the installation of grinder units on newly installed sewer lines.