'Equate,' the brown, blackish, mulch-like product - with a piquant taste and curious smell - is made up of about 60 percent human excrement, mixed with other un-dissolved solids that once went happily down the drain after leaving someone's toilet.
Brought to you by Quasar, a Cleveland, Ohio-based company, and adored by the New York State DEC, Equate is what happens to toilet waste after it goes through a process called anaerobic digestion.
Equate, of course, does not go directly from your toilet to your neighbor's farm. The stuff in toilets goes first to municipal treatment plants where it is put it through a clarifier to dissolve solid particles and screened. It is then put through further treatments before it is separated from the water -- the latter is treated with chemicals and discharged into lakes or streams.
What is leftover, the solids, is called sludge. This sludge, a watery cake which normally goes to landfills, is what Equate is made from.
Quasar takes the sludge, cooks out the gas to make electricity and sells what is left, the “Equate,” to farmers as cheap fertilizer. While farmers who use Equate cannot grow food fit for human consumption for years, they can grow crops for ethanol or animal consumption.
DEC officials are delighted with Equate, as they are with anything that can be conceived as “compost,” something that will degrade naturally instead of being placed in a landfill.
Equate is profitable, too. Before it is delivered to a farm upwind from you, Equate is taken by Quasar from sewer plants, where they first extract bio gas and sell it to make electricity. Quasar then sells Equate to farmers.
The problem Quasar is facing, and why you are hearing so much about them, is they can get so much Equate they cannot possibly store it or spread it all.
Quasar’s storage facilities in West Seneca and Wheatfield are already overloaded with Equate, and they had to stop taking it from the Town of Amherst since they have no more room.
Unfortunately, when the folks in Wheatfield and West Seneca approved Quasar storage facilities, few understood that Equate was just a fancy name for treated human waste. They bought into the notion that they were being asked to store fertilizer to be sold to happy farmers at discount prices.
Otherwise, who would have been stupid enough to approve this shit Equate.
Quasar officials were not forthcoming in making clear to the towns that what they were really building was a lagoon for storing millions of gallons of human waste. You have heard of the blue lagoon. Quasar wants to build a land of lakes, of brown lagoons.
When the truth finally came out, there was a big stink.
Now Quasar is trying to get approval to build enclosed storage tanks to hold their highly-profitable Equate until they can sell some of their shit Equate to a farmer near you.
Naturally, people are afraid. Quasar folks call this “ridiculous.”
They say those who oppose it are just talking shit Equate.
In Lewiston, a solid waste law was enacted 22 years ago making Equate illegal. The law specifies there is only one route where solid waste can be delivered - down 104 to Model City to Swann to the Modern Disposal landfill.
The reason Quasar does not want to take Equate to Modern, however, is that, instead of selling their product to farmers for money, Quasar would have to pay to dump their shit Equate thus inverting their business model.
Equate is illegal in Lewiston, but not in Wheatfield, Porter, Ransomville, Cambria, Wilson and other areas of Niagara County.
In Lewiston, the supervisor and council are authorized to direct code enforcement to enforce the law with the aid of police. Of course, the town could negotiate a permit with Quasar charging them extra money and issue a waiver.
In the meantime, the shit, or rather, the Equate is being offered to your town for storage, then to your town's farmers in the spring and fall.
Will it smell? Quasar says it doesn't. Buy a bag of it and find out for yourself.
It might also be dangerous. While tests are made to ensure against certain poisons, one should be worried about what they didn't test for, like heavy metals, pesticides, hormones and drugs.
DEC permits are fast-tracked for Equate. The DEC has not conducted any real research on it. Scientists don't know what it will do in the long run.
One should also be concerned about storage tank ruptures. If this shit Equate ever leaks out, it will do more than smell.
In conclusion, at the Niagara Falls Reporter we feel that, rather than feed it to the citizens of Niagara County, Quasar should send Equate to Albany and spread it around the capital.
There's so much Equate going on there already, a heavy, thick application of it will hardly be noticed.
(Above) Anyone care for a swim? (Below) How about a heaping helping of Equate?