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NYAFCo not chosen to treat sludge in new RFP

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The almost two decades-long battle by community activists to control smells eminating from the Hunts Point NYOFCo plant may be over for good.

The Department of Environmental Protection has replaced a contract with the New York Organic Fertilizer Company that was terminated in June 2010 because of increasing costs associated in processing treated sludge and turning it into fertilizer pellets.

NYOFCo’s parent company Synagro had bid on the new RFP, but it was awarded to WeCare Organics, which will remove 400 tons of biosolids produced every day at the site to a processing facility in eastern Pennsylvania, according to the DEP.

“When we ended the NYOFCo contract in 2010 because it was too costly to continue, we committed to seeking an alternative, sustainable and cost-effective way to handle the biosolids that New Yorkers generate everyday,” said DEP commissioner Carter Strickland. “Our selection today fulfills that promise to process sludge in a beneficial way while at the same time using a significantly less expensive option that protects our ratepayers. Converting our sludge from waste to a valuable resources moves us closer to achieving Mayor Bloomberg’s vision of a greener, greater New York.”

NYOFCo was processing about 600 tons of sludge a day at its facility on Oak Point Avenue in Hunts Point and turned it into fertilizer pellets at a cost of approximately $30 million a year, but the contract with WeCare organic will be significantly less, at about $11 million a year, according to the DEP.

Future plans for the NYOFCo plant are up to the owner of the property, said Jamie Kinder, a spokeswoman for Synagro.

“As part of our obligation to the community, as well as the landlord, we have closed our operations there,” Kinder said. “We are waiting for our landlord to give us a disposition of the plant. It may be demolished or kept as is under a new lease agreement.”

The landlord is actively seeking a tenant for the property, Kinder stated. Since it is not a city-owned property, the DEP cannot comment on the site’s future, said DEP spokesman Farrell Skerov.

Environmental justice activists filed a lawsuit against NYOFCo in July 2008. Plaintiffs included Mothers on the Move and 10 local residents from Hunts Point. Congressman Jose Serrano called for the facility to be closed in 2006, according to published reports.

A public hearing on the new WeCare Organics, LLC contract will be held in Queens at the DEP office, located at 59-17 Junction Boulevard. It will occur in the 17th floor conference room on Thursday, December 29.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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