MOREAU, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Hundreds lined the driveway leading to the town of Moreau’s municipal complex Thursday evening. While the town is saying yes, those residents resoundingly said, “not Moreau” when it comes to building a controversial biochar facility.

“The product itself is not the biggest concern, it’s the process of making the product that is the biggest concern for our community,” explains Holly Johnson with the group “Not Moreau”.

The proposed Saratoga Biochar plant would import solid waste from wastewater treatment plants in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere. Those biosolids are then turned into fertilized. The process would emit a significant amount of steam. But, the company, Northeast Biochar, says toxins such as PFOAs, which may be in the biosolids will be contained and not emitted into the atmosphere.

Residents, however, who were affected by General Electric’s dumping of PCBs into the Hudson River say they have heard that story before. “DEC has said, it’s my understanding that they said they will not be monitoring and that it is up to Saratoga Biochar to monitor. And, honestly if you know anything about this area and you know General Electric, people believed them in the past and they didn’t do what they were supposed to do either,” says Jenn Hubinger.

Holly Johnson says she and others would like to see an independent environmental impact statement (EIS) to fully consider the facility’s affect on the community. “The planning board, even though they’re trying to do the right thing and trying to do their best, this is way out of their scope of understanding.” 

Moreau residents’ concerns certainly encapsulate the ecological impact that the facility could have but also go further. The Moreau Industrial Park has been zoned since 1994, but has only ever been home to adhesive manufacturer Hexion. Residents have expressed concerns over the impact of over 20 trucks per day carrying biosolids through streets populated by houses and families.

Northeastern Biochar CEO Raymond Apy came to the town of Moreau in late 2021, seeking to found Saratoga Biochar as the second occupant of Moreau Industrial Complex. The plant would intake biosolids – solid waste leftover from work at wastewater treatment plants – from a large swath of the northeast, including parts of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Those biosolids would be processed at Saratoga Biochar, and turned into fertilizer to be sold both locally and nationally.PHOTOS: Canoe Planter Trail open at Moreau Lake

Much community concern has revolved around the use of those biosolids, which can contain harmful PFOA contaminants. In a NEWS10 interview in April, Apy and co-founder Bryce Meeker described some of the steps that the plant would take to safely remove toxins from the biosolid base without harming the environment. The process of drying biosolids creates synthesis gas, which is where PFOAs and sulfur dioxide go. The company says that a process is in place for safely burning that gas.