State helps pay for Cascades plan to burn plant’s gas as fuel

A Niagara Falls plant, whose odoriferous emissions have drawn the ire of nearby residents and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, has received a grant of more than $2 million from another state agency.

The grant to Cascades Containerboard Packaging will pay most of the cost of a project to refine the gases generated by the plant’s wastewater treatment process, so those gases can be burned as fuel to help power the plant.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority approved $2.14 million last month for Cascades, whose Packard Road plant recycles paper into cardboard.

But the authority and Cascades agreed that the grant, and the $3.2 million project it supports, have nothing to do with fighting odors.

A state spokesman said that work performed under the NYSERDA grant is separate and distinct from the DEC’s ongoing enforcement and is not designed to address odor problems at the facility.

“It’s something completely different. It’s not related to the odors, that’s clear,” Cascades spokesman Hugo D’Amours said. “The idea of this project is to improve the quality of bio-gas so we can burn it as an alternative to natural gas.”

The rotten-egg odors described by nearby residents have led to $375,000 in fines to the company from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC also ordered more than $2 million worth of plant equipment upgrades and repairs to stop the odors.