New URT Resolution for Biofuel Storage

On Wednesday, February 20, at 6:00pm the Town Board held a public meeting on a new URT resolution for biofuel storage. Many local residents and civic groups were present at the meeting to voice their opposition and others submitted letters to the Board.

United Riverhead Terminal (“URT”) submitted an application to the Riverhead Town Board for a special permit for the installation of a 28 ft. x 45 ft. concrete pad and the installation of six (6) 18,000 gallon tanks, totaling 108,000 gallons, for storing biofuel .to mix with heating oil. URT plans to mix heating oil with 5% biofuel on site, in order to be compliant with a New York State Environmental Conservation Law 19-0327, as amended by Chapter 315, Laws of 2017.

Currently, URT receives the heating oil premixed with the required five percent biofuel that has been mandated by New York State since July 1st, 2017.

In the recent past URT has indicated the facility may seek to blend biofuel with diesel for use as motor fuel. URT claims they possess a state permit to store gasoline on their site as well. Several years ago, however, URT had planned to move forward with storing gasoline in tanks at the facility but many of the town's residents objected and URT decided not to persue the venture.

The current resolution also calls for the acquisition of a portion of a resident's private property so as to allow for tractor-trailer turn movements westerly onto Sound Avenue as deemed necessary by an engineering study. If necessary, the URT resolution states that "eminent domain must be utilized under the New York State to complete the acquisition of the private property for improvement and highway dedication". However, the property owner was not given any notification of this proposed plan, by either the URT facility or the Riverhead Town.

A Proposed "Anaerobic Digester"

Industrial Waste/Gas Pipeline

Construction near a Residential


On Wednesday, February 20, 2019 Riverhead residents responded to a proposal that had been presented at Town Hall for a plant called an anaerobic digester that would utilize industrial waste to produce compressed natural gas for National Grid's pipelines.

What are the Components of the Industrial Waste?

No information was provided at the meeting about the actual components of the industrial waste to be processed by the anaerobic digester.

There are four main feedstocks often considered for anaerobic digestion:

  • Animal waste (cow and pig manure),
  • Sewage sludge
  • Separated organics (food scraps and yard waste)
  • Municipal solid waste

What are the Safety/Health/Quality of Life issues involved with an Anaerobic Digester Plant or BioGas Plant?

A number of important safety issues and potential risks for humans and the environment exist when constructing and operating a biogas plant :

  • Fire
  • Explosion
  • Asphyxiation
  • Gas poisoning (H2S, NH3)
  • Hydraulic discharge
  • High-pressure methane gas or liquid leaks
  • Surface water leakages
  • Biological hazards/Pathogens (diseases)
  • Electrical system hazards

Anaerobic digesters are only marginally effective at reducing problems with odors, pathogens and greenhouse gas emissions from food/animal waste, but they are incapable of making any chemical contaminants in the wastes go away. Air pollutants such as nitrogen and sulfur oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and ammonia are emited by digesters.  These emissions can make living next to a digester unpleasant, particularly if located in a residential neighborhood.  A large facility as proposed in meeting would bring waste/manure-hauling trucks from around the region. And after the biogas has been produced, there is still the issue of the waste that remains behind. The quantity of waste/manure is not reduced by digestion. It still must be put somewhere.

What are the Costs of Construction and Maintenance of a Anaerobic Digester Plant or BioGas Plant?

The total construction costs of the project has been projected to be between $20 million and $22 million. Additional costs of the yearly operational maintenance of the plant have not been determined.

Is it a Good Investment for Riverhead?

Even when supported by subsidies, anaerobic digesters have a high initial cost and a long payback period. Although methane digester technology has been available for many years, it has not been shown to be an economical way to generate power. Studies show that the installation and operating costs invariably exceed the income the digester generates over a period of years.