Plans for biofuel plant in Amsterdam derailed

Jeremy Silverman, one of the principals of the proposed biofuel manufacturing plant, said Friday he

Jeremy Silverman, one of the principals of the proposed biofuel manufacturing plant, said Friday he didn’t know what his next move would be after the city Planning Commission rejected the proposal to operate the plant in the 4th Ward, but he wasn’t ready to give up.

“We’re going to regroup and see what we have to do next,” he said.

Silverman and Fred Krone, who run Geo-Environmental Management Solutions, were proposing a small biodiesel manufacturing plant in the old Olbrych Dairy building on Bell Street.

They were expecting to produce about 2,500 gallons of biodiesel per day once the plant was operational.

The biodiesel would have been made with waste vegetable oil that would be processed with methanol and lye to produce the fuel. The by-product of the process would be glycerin.

Neighbors expressed their concern over the proposed project during a 4th Ward meeting Wednesday. Alderman William Wills, D-4th Ward, said he was concerned about the methanol, especially the chemical reaction between methanol and the vegetable oil, which he said could be dangerous.

Information from Silverman and Krone about the plant’s emergency plan called for the evacuation of a quarter-mile radius from the plant, which included most of the lower end of the 4th Ward.

Wills said there were still unanswered questions about how residents would be notified in case there was an accident.

“There were many issues that weren’t resolved based on safety,” he said.

Wills said he was happy with the Planning Commission’s decision.

Silverman said he was not looking to give up on the project. “I’ve spent two years on this. It’s a viable project. We just need to figure out a way to make it work,” he said.

Silverman said it’s possible that the pair will work with the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency to find possible sites for the project.

Wills approached the AIDA board Monday and asked them to help Silverman and Krone find alternative sites for their project. He suggested the Mohasco lower power plant or a vacant building in the Edson Industrial Park.

“There was actually an overwhelming consensus from the majority of the people that they liked the project and the idea, but, you know, not in my backyard,” Silverman said.

Silverman said as the energy crisis wears on, people need to start thinking creatively and maybe taking risks to find something better.

He said places like France run most of the country on nuclear power.

“They build those small nuclear plants next to cities where there are a lot of people,” he said. “We need to think of the future. These risks are what it’s going to take. I don’t want to force a project down someone’s throat, but we need to start thinking about projects like this with an open mind.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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