BioHiTech Global Trash to Fuel
Steps Forward in New Windsor Planning Process
By Edie Johnson
New Windsor – In April BioHiTech, a company that already has waste processing facilities in Europe (Italy, China France, England) as well as one in Virginia that is now 80% complete and is expected to start trash processing in Nov-Dec of this year), described to New Windsor’s Planning Board what they offer as a “simple, environmentally friendly and cost-effective technique that will change the future of waste management, and turn it into renewable fuel.” The process is described as an “Eco-Safe Digester” that uses aerobic digestion with water and negative air pressure (like a vacuum) pressuring the garbage through peat to process it into what they say is an ecologically friendly fuel. The initial April submittal information was distributed to adjacent towns, villages and other interested parties, sent to the County for its review.
BioHiTech (now on NASDAQ as BHTG) took two big steps forward this week at a presentation to the New Windsor Planning Board. They were looking for a decision on lead agency status and a Special Use Permit, but the board’s Chairman Genaro Argenio repeatedly said he has major reservations, “This is a stone’s throw from a medical complex as well as an FBI office and other Class A office buildings”, he said. But after some lengthy discussion he along with fellow board members declared themselves lead agency, adding that the project would have a POS DEC (Positive Declaration of potential Environmental Impact) which will trigger a much more exhaustive evaluation. Attorney Rick Golden for the applicant cautioned that there are always visual and other impacts. the question is whether they rise to the level of significant concern, adding that “The POS DEC should itemize their concerns, to assist the client in doing their DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement).” The applicant has already done traffic studies that show little impact on volume, but board members continued to be concerned about the likely smell as well as noise of the incoming and outgoing trash and fuel trucks. The Department of Transportation has asked for a separate, unobtrusive emergency fire entrance/exit of pavement that will be painted green. The board will craft a resolution including a lengthy list of their environmental concerns, which the client can then address during SEQR (the State Environmental Quality Review), and will then offer a list of potential mitigations to those concerns. Argenio said repeatedly that among his concerns was that the process is so new, that this would be only the second such facility in the United States.
Chief among those concerns are stormwater and sewage drainage, particularly because the site includes a Silver Stream Diversion Area that drain into Lake Washington (just now beginning to recover from contamination by PFA’s from Stewart International Airport). The project is nearly adjacent to the airport where toxic firefighting foam seeped into the groundwater. The issue of smell from the process, which forces the trash through peat filters, was addressed by the company’s representative who said “at the site itself you might notice a slight peat smell within about 3 feet of the processing, but 30 feet away you would smell nothing, and certainly not off site”. There would be no handling of the trash outside of the facility. He added that the cleanliness and lack of smell of the process was what had attracted him to the company at the start. The trash to fuel operation would receive approximately 40 garbage trucks and 10 trailers per day. The concerns include what would ultimately happen with the high moisture content found in the trash. The plan calls for some the water to be used during processing, but the remainder to go into the town’s sewer system. The representative for the owner, however, offered that if that became a problem the residual moisture could also be trucked off the scene.
In the earlier April review several of the New Windsor members said they thought that since the process is so new it would be helpful for someone from the town to make a visit to one of the European facilities that are said to have already become operationally successful.
(BioHiTech’s Trash to Fuel Plant in Italy)