FORT EDWARD — General Electric’s old dewatering plant for its completed Hudson River dredging project has been suggested as a site for developers who want to turn waste into fertilizer.
Hampton Supervisor David O’Brien said the property has access to the water and a rail line.
John Dowd, a partner with Smart Terra Care, wants to build a factory that can take biomass waste from paper plants and biosolids waste from wastewater treatment plants to create “biochar,” a type of charcoal that can be used as fertilizer. It can also be used for treatment of wastewater and sewage, drinking water treatment, air and water filters and renewable bioenergy.
Dowd toured sites in the area, including parcels in the industrial park near the Warren County airport. He pitched his idea to the Warren-Washington Counties Industrial Development Agency Executive Committee last week and appeared before the full IDA board on Monday.
“We’re not particular to a place. We’re particular to making sure we don’t have a problem,” he said.
Dowd said the plant would be relatively small — about 10,000 to 12,000 square feet.
The goal is to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills and giving off methane gas, he said.
“Our whole goal is to create a situation where waste is used in a positive way that is beneficial to society,” he said.
In the process, one bunker is set up for sludge from paper plants and one for the wastewater. The waste is put through a dryer that takes out moisture. Then it goes throw a thermal reactor that heats the mixture up to 600 to 700 degrees. The heat breaks down chemicals in the biosolids, and the gases are captured.
“They’re fed back in as fuel,” he said.
The end product is the biochar.
The plan is to run the plant 24 hours a day about 6 days a week, according to Dowd.
“You can only make so much,” he said.
He estimated the operation would require 18 to 20 truck trips per day.
He would be working with a waste company, which would space out the deliveries, and the trucks would not be running at all hours of the night.
O’Brien brought up concern about PFOAs in the southern half of the county. Adjacent Rensselaer County experienced PFOA contamination in water supplies in Hoosick Falls.
He also questioned whether construction waste would have asbestos in it.
Dowd said he is not sure, but that is why they are bringing in an environmental consultant.
“They’re going to proceed and make sure everything is done in the right context, the right procedures,” he said.
An audience member asked about the gases that could be released. Warren County has one of the highest rates of cancer in the state.
Dowd said the business will have a laboratory to test for any gases leaving the site.
He said this process would be preferable to the current situation, where garbage is breaking down in landfills and giving off methane gas.
“I can’t see any emissions going in the air that’s going to be a problem,” he said.
Another concern expressed was about runoff from the site or material coming off the trucks.
Dowd explained that the material would be trucked directly to bunkers.
“Nothing is put outside the building,” he said.
Dowd said he is not aware that any other business is using both biomass and biosolids to make carbon.
“We’re doing something better than what’s being done right now,” he said.