DEC Halts Cayuga Regional Digester’s Waste Shipments From Controversial Bronx Transfer Station
March 28, 2019
AUBURN, March 28, 2019 — The state suspended on Wednesday waste shipments from a Bronx transfer station to the Cayuga Regional Digester after a surprise inspection of the Auburn facility March 11 turned up evidence of a host of permit violations.
Also banned are any shipments of source-separated organics from New York City’s Department of Sanitation.
The alleged violations are spelled out in a Mar. 27, 2019 letter from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to the facility’s manager, John Stapleton.
That notice of violation cited management’s failure to regularly monitor both incoming waste and outgoing digestate (effluent) produced by the methane digester. It also alleged that the facility had accepted wastes not allowed under its permit, including fats, oil and grease.
The DEC is drafting a proposed consent order to address the violations, according to the letter written by Thomas E. Annal, the agency’s regional materials management engineer.
The digester’s previous manager, John Roser, quit in January.
Earlier this month, Roser told WaterFront that he resigned because he felt he was being “strong-armed” to accept illicit waste.
In February, another employee, Amanda Quill, resigned after complaining about being ordered to hand-sort household garbage items out of waste deliveries to the digester, according to The Citizen, Auburn’s daily newspaper.
Quill and others sources have said that beginning around January incoming trash loads have included needles, yard waste, glass, a brake rotor and used feminine hygiene products.
The digester is designed to accept farm manure and certain specific types of food waste, which it processes to yield digestate and methane used to generate modest amounts of electric power.
“You are reminded,” Annal wrote in his letter to Stapleton, “that (state regulation) prohibits facilities from accepting wastes that do not positively contribute to the digestion process or the quality of the product.”
The digester is operated by CH4 Generate Cayuga, a unit of Generate Capital, a California-based investment firm. CH4 has a long-term lease-to-own agreement with the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District, which built the facility more than a decade ago.
Last summer CH4 developed a 10-million-gallon manure lagoon in Mentz to handle digestate produced by the methane digester.
The lagoon was sited on farmland leased from Hourigan Farms, a major dairy in Elbridge.
The DEC allows it to operate under on Hourigan’s state permit for a concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO. That CAFO permit requires that any digestate sent to the lagoon must be at least 50 percent manure. Complete article