by Terry Duffy
Among the many news items covered at Monday's Lewiston Town Board work session came a bombshell: Town Supervisor Dennis Brochey revealed the state Department of Environmental Conservation has moved on approving four permits with Quasar Energy of Ohio, allowing for use of upward of 2,500 acres of lands in the Town of Lewiston for the injection of processed equate from a Quasar facility in Wheatfield. State DEC approved the permits last summer; they allow for the injection/spreading of equate on lands in the town to begin almost as soon as the ground thaws.
It was learned Monday the permits were approved by DEC last August. That information was conveyed via correspondence from DEC to then Lewiston Supervisor Steve Reiter where it sat with no response.
Town Building Inspector Tim Masters recently uncovered this information and revealed the information to Brochey.
"Mr. Masters and I are very much aware of this, and I have instructed him to email Quasar our concerns," Brochey said.
No prior approval is needed, although Brochey and Town Board members indicated they do intend to fight it. "I contacted Nathan Carr (of Quasar Energy)," Brochey said, "and I told him these (Quasar's plans) are not valid."
At issue are four Lewiston sites under consideration: on Dickersonville and Swann roads; and three locations, unspecified, on Saunders Settlement Road just east of Chew Road, adjacent to Smoking Joes and across from the Niagara-Wheatfield School District.
Lewiston resident William Kraft of Lewiston Residents Against Lagoons, a residents group formed last fall when news broke a Quasar lagoon was considered for Porter Center Road, appeared at Monday's Town Board session. Kraft said he's had conversations with Lisa Porter of DEC's Buffalo office, who told him DEC has given its approval for four sites in the town and 10 locations in Niagara County. Kraft said the Porter Center Road site was no longer under consideration.
Indeed, according to a page on the DEC website titled "Quasar Anaerobic Digestion Facilities, December 2013 Fact Sheet, Quasar Anaerobic Digestion Facilities - Update," under "types of permits," is the following:
"Solid waste and air pollution control permits have been issued for the anaerobic digestion facilities located on Liberty Drive in Wheatfield and North America Drive in West Seneca. A solid waste permit has also been issued to Quasar subsidiary Sustainable BioElectric LLC for the land application of the digestate on ten (10) specific farm fields in various Niagara County municipalities (Cambria, Lewiston, Pendleton, Wheatfield and Wilson). There are two permit modification applications currently under review with DEC to add additional specific fields to this permit. These additional fields are located in various municipalities in Niagara, Erie and Wyoming Counties. Any field on which the company wants to land apply the digestate must be approved by DEC prior to land application of the material. There is also a solid waste permit application under review with DEC for an approximately 1 million gallon storage tank in the Town of Marilla to hold the digested material during times of year when it cannot be land applied directly from the digestion facility."
"We never knew anything about permits being approved by the DEC," Kraft said. "There're right now on file, completed permits, allowing for spreading of equate in the Town of Lewiston in those four sites."
"Lewiston (has) laws that exist in the town code," Kraft continued. "Problem is we need to inform them (the DEC). Other communities have put forth a moratorium."
He promised a heavy turnout of residents at the March 24 Town Board meeting.
A call to the state DEC office in Buffalo Tuesday failed to reveal any insight regarding the DEC procedures, first on site selections in these communities and how DEC communicates with the affected towns regarding its approval of permits for this type of operation. A DEC public affairs rep indicated a response would be expected.