Despite public outcry, DEC gives permit for biowaste storage

MARILLA, N.Y. (WIVB) – In a meeting last September, Marilla residents didn’t hold back when expressing their outrage over a farmer and his plan to store biowaste on his land.

Now, six months later, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has granted to Sustainable BioPower LLC, owned by Quasar, to store biowaste in an existing concrete tank on Stan Travis’s farm.

The DEC says the permit does not give Sustainable BioPower permission to produce biowaste on the East Wood Road property, only to store it there.

But the company’s plan is to eventually sell the biowaste to other farmers. The biowaste cannot be applied during certain times of the year, such as when the ground is frozen or crops are already planted in a field, which is why Sustainable BioPower needs a place to store it.

Despite DEC approval, residents again expressed concern at a board meeting Thursday night over the plan. They fear the potential harmful effects of what is in the biowaste.

Residents have formed what they’re calling a “Citizen Sludge Committee” to research possible environmental and health risks. It appeared Thursday night that the town board is taking their concerns seriously because board members are looking to extend a local moratorium on solid waste processing, storage and disposal.

The current moratorium ends on May 8th.

Marilla Town Supervisor Earl Gingerich, Jr. said, “Our best approach to this is not to ban it all together. If we do that, I’ll tell you right now, we’ll lose. There’s nothing wrong with the concept. The problem is with what some of the items in the material. We have to let them know that we are not going to allow the safety of our community or our animals be put in harm’s way. As a farmer, I have a real concern with some of the items that have not been tested for.”

The next step in the process is for the town board to hold a public hearing. They voted Thursday night to hold the hearing concerning the moratorium on April 10th.

After that, they will hold a vote on whether or not to extend the moratorium. If it is approved, it would be extended by another six months.

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