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DEC cites Cayuga Regional Digester after surprise inspection on March 11th

The Cayuga Regional Digester has been cited by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The former manager of the Cayuga Regional Digester, which was designed to generate electric power from reprocessed farm manure and food wastes, said he quit in January because he felt he was being “strong-armed” to process truckloads of illicit types of waste.

A citizen complaint, led by Jessica Marks, a local resident prompted the DEC to conduct a surprise inspection.

The results of that inspection outlined the following issues:

1 – The facility has accepted fats, oi, and grease (FOG) for processing in the digester which is not authorized under the facility’s current permit. The engineering report submitted with the permit modification application dated March 2018 states that FOG could not be accepted unless facility improvements were made to provide proper heating and mixing.

The notice says that the acceptance of FOG constitutes a violation of Permit Condition No. 1, stating that all activities authorized by the permit must be in strict conformance with the permit application, plans and materials prepared by the applicant.

The DEC said, “The facility may no longer accept FOG until an updated engineering report and permit modification is approved by the Department.”

Cayuga Regional Digester

2 – Monthly sampling and analysis of the digestive did not take place between the effective date of the modified permit and the end of January 2019.

3 – February 27, 2019 sample data indicated that Cadmium was less than 10.9 mg/Kg, but the maximum allowable limit is 10 mg/Kg. Compliance could not be verified, according to the DEC’s report.

4 – Monthly sampling and analysis of the incoming waste and digestive is not being completed to verify 38 percent volatile solids reduction. That is another violation of permit condition.

5 – Records are not available to demonstrate pathogen and vector attraction reduction.

The report from the DEC also requests the following additional information regarding source separated organics, which were received from New York City, as stated in a March 2018 Engineering Report.

– Assurances that the transfer station is authorized to receive SSO;
– How and why yard waste is removed at the digester;
– What attempts are being made to reduce the amount of incoming yard waste at the transfer station if is not going to be digested;
– An estimation of the inorganic fraction of the waste received at the facility, and what efforts are being made to reduce inorganic contamination at the source;
– The methods used to remove inorganic material from the SSO at the digester facility; and
– Identification of any educational materials that the Department of Senation of NYC is using to inform residents of what can and cannot be collected through their SSO program.

The report notes that code prohibits facilities from accepting wastes that do not positively contribute to the digestion process or the quality of the product.

“Until the above information is received and approval granted by the DEC, the Cayuga Regional Digester may not accept SSO from the Metropolitan Transfer Station or the DSNY SSO collection program,” the report continues.

It notes that on March 11th DEC staff observed a CH4 Generate Cayuga LLC tanker truck delivering digestive to the Hourigan manure storage lagoon located on Maiden Lane Road using a hose placed over the fence.

The lagoon has a submerged fill port for offloading liquid digestive and manure into the lagoon, according to the DEC. The submerged fill port is designed to minimize odors from the lagoon by reducing exposure to ambient air during the filling process. That fill process also prevents surface agitation of the lagoon, which can contribute to odors.

More Coverage

Read the full-report from the DEC’s inspection
The original report from Peter Mantius, The Water Front Blog
Peter Mantius, Josh Durso, and Jessica Marks discuss Cayuga Regional Digester on WXXI’s Connections