Source: Hudson Reporter
The city councils of both Bayonne and Kearney have joined the opposition to a self-described renewable energy company’s proposal to build a human waste processing facility in Kearny.
Aries Clean Technologies is seeking to construct a facility for processing what it calls “biosolids,” commonly known as solid human waste that has been treated. The solid human waste would first be delivered to the facility in watertight trucks from regional wastewater treatment plants.
The facility would process the solid human waste, also referred to as sludge, by drying and treating it to prevent odor. The process results in biosolids, which Aries then heats to high temperatures to “gasify.” That creates the final product, biochar, which would be used in things like fertilizer and concrete manufacturing.
The plan calls for the facility to be constructed in a heavy industrial area at 75 Jacobus Avenue. The neighborhood is defined by similar industrial uses, but residents say the plans for this facility, in a word, stink.
Members of the public, along with Bayonne and Kearney mayors James Davis oppose the plans. “We support the right of Kearny and every municipality to make judgments about which businesses are appropriate for the environment in their community,” Davis said.
The plans for the facility are currently on hold pending a public hearing before the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for necessary permits. The hearing was set for Dec. 13, but the town filed an objection with the NJDEP saying that the company did not give adequate public notice.
While there is no date for a new hearing for the proposed facility, residents and officials alike have already organized against it. Critics of the facility have accused Aries of “greenwashing” their process, alleging that they use green terminology as a distraction.
“Biosolids,” protestors claim, is actually sludge, and that “biochar” is actually toxic ash — carcinogenic, and would produce an overwhelming smell.
Aries maintains that the “biochar” is non-hazardous, would not produce an odor, and is created from “biosolids,” not sludge. The sludge would be treated first and then turned into “biosolids” which would be treated further to become “biochar.” And the company chose the location for the proposed facility because it already receives sludge at a local transfer station at the site.
Arguments from both sides will likely be heard at the public hearing, whenever that may be rescheduled. In the meantime, Aries is constructing a “biosolids” facility in Linden, which it anticipates will be completed before the permitting of the Kearny facility is complete and “will serve as a demonstration of the validity of the Aries technology.”