Tully Environmental

BUTLER — A New York City company is eying a 30-acre gravel pit on Route 89 as the site of a composting facility for sewage sludge.

Town Supervisor David Spickerman said that officials from Tully Environmental of Flushing attended the Feb. 10 board meeting with a proposal to lease part of the gravel pit, which is owned by Riccelli Enterprises, for the processing of sludge hauled upstate from New York City. Company officials said the byproduct of the wastewater treatment process would be mixed with wood chips and other materials, then trucked elsewhere for use as composting or fertilizing material for agricultural use.

The site is adjacent to Merrill Farms, a large dairy operation.

“We just received the proposal and have just started our review,” Spickerman said. “We will have our attorney review the proposal and will hire an engineering firm to also examine the plan. A facility such as this will require a permit from the town and, if they get that, the state DEC will then get involved with a more detailed review.

“The company promised to keep us and the public informed, and our Town Board will also keep people informed,” Spickerman added.

The next Town Board meeting is March 9.

Tom Mettler, who operates the village of Wolcott wastewater treatment plant, is a longtime Butler resident. The Riccelli gravel pit is virtually in his backyard, he said.

“It is also near Wolcott Creek,” Mettler noted. “I and many others are concerned about this project, which we’re told may result in up to 10 tractor-trailers of sludge a day, hauled up here from downstate, seven days a week.”

Mettler said he was among a group that visited Tully’s 100-acre composting facility in Tremont, Pa. Mettler said he came away unimpressed.

“Another issue is that there is no zoning in Butler,” Mettler continued, saying concerned residents like himself will monitor the situation closely as it moves forward. “Sludge often contains heavy metals, which can’t be removed, and once it gets spread onto fields it can get into the groundwater. The long-term impact could be substantial.”

Butler, with a population of around 2,500, is the smallest town in Wayne County. It is located on the east end of the county, adjacent to Wolcott.

Tully Environmental, which did not respond to a request for comment, began handling biosolids in 1991. Its Pennsylvania facility handles up to 350 tons of sludge a day.

The company is one of the largest, privately held waste haulers in the country, with sales approaching $80 million a year. It is a major hauler of curbside solid waste collected in the New York City borough of Queens.

Riccelli Enterprises, a trucking and aggregates company, has not excavated gravel from the Route 89 property for some time, Spickerman said.

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