In 2018, BioHiTech, a New York-based company, received city Planning Commission approval to build a solid waste processing facility on the opposite end of the city to Dunn Landfill. The proposed 72,000-square foot facility would turn mixed municipal waste, such as tires and plastics, into an EPA-recognized fuel using High efficiency Biological Treatment (HEBioT). BioHiTech owns the exclusive development rights for using HEBioT technology and established the country’s first facility in March of 2019.

BioHiTech wants to put waste in big new pits and try to sort out the plastic and paper. The plastic and paper would be dried, shredded and then trucked to a cement plant to be burned. With the Dunn Landfill already creating problems, the city of Rensselaer does not need or want more solid waste coming into the city.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation wisely rejected the state permits for this project and BioHiTech is trying it again and public hearings are in process. This rejection was in part due to the vigorous opposition by the Rensselaer Environmental Coalition in concert with other groups such as Riverkeeper. A success for REC.

On October 22, 2020, BioHiTech announced the acquisition of an interest in the site thru a 99-year ground lease allowing for certain uses including solid waste transfer stations, waste to energy facilities, waste renewable fuel processing facilities and other industrial uses. They take the position that this will enable them to qualify for expedited permitting for renewable energy facilities.

This is directly opposed to what community members want and commented on in the public comment hearing reported on earlier in this section.

So Rensselaer, do you have any say in what happens in your community? Seems like money and lawyers control your community! Make your voices heard.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 27, 2020

After being rejected by NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, waste company doubles down and proposes even bigger project on the banks of the Hudson River

RENSSELAER – The Albany Times Union has reported that BioHiTech is back with a proposal for an even larger project that would damage the environment in the City of Rensselaer and beyond. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has denied permits for this project, and the City of Rensselaer is requiring a new environmental review process. Coupled with these regulatory decisions, there is strong public opposition to this project. So, what does BioHiTech do? They ignore the public concerns and come back with an even bigger project that will damage the environment. The project is proposed on a floodplain, on top of a toxic waste site and near a public housing complex.

Since July 2018, Rensselaer Resource Recovery has had its eyes on a contaminated brownfield site in the City of Rensselaer. BioHiTech Global plans to construct a solid recovered fuels facility on the former BASF site in the city’s industrial region, right along the Hudson River. Construction of the facility would include digging two massive pits on the property, disturbing the brownfield caps. There are concerns in the community of potential environmental contamination from years of chemicals seeping into the ground. The site lies approximately 350 feet from the bank of the Hudson River. A dredging program has been going on across the road from the site for the last couple of years to remove PCB contamination from the river. On June 4, 2020 during a public hearing on the proposed Rensselaer facility, Dennis Soriano, Director of Business Development for BioHiTech Global was asked why the company abandoned plans for a similar facility in Orange County. Soriano responded that, “the land was less than desirable for development.” Members of the Rensselaer community and their environmental allies consider the proposed Rensselaer site to be less than desirable for development due to its storied history of environmental contamination, however, BioHiTech is adamant about making Rensselaer their home.

“We stand by our point that this is the wrong type of project, in the wrong location, at the wrong time. Our community is often taken advantage of by polluting, industrial operations and the people have had enough. There are too many risks to even consider allowing BioHiTech to develop in Rensselaer. Our message is for BioHiTech to respect the public opposition and leave our community,” said Dave Ellis, Chairman of Rensselaer Environmental Coalition.

“BioHiTech wants to truck 150,000 tons of solid waste into the already burdened City of Rensselaer, relying on a primitive new “technology” that has only been used once before in the entire country. 82 truck trips would be added to the large number of garbage trucks that barrel into the city to get to the Dunn Landfill, sited next to the city’s school. How much can one little city take? Don’t be fooled. The “technology” being peddled by BioHiTech involves shredding and burning large amounts of plastic and paper, which would be trucked to a cement kiln to be burned. This is not good for local residents and not good for the environment,” said Judith Enck, former EPA Regional Administrator.

“Riverkeeper is strongly opposed to a waste processing facility on top of a hazardous waste site next to the Hudson River. The original proposed facility raises numerous, serious concerns for the river, the environment and the surrounding community, and the local residents and the river should not have to bear the burden of more industrial poisons. It is essential that a proper environmental review be conducted for both the original proposed project and any future proposals from BioHiTech,” said Victoria Leung, Riverkeeper’s Associate Staff Attorney.