Acknowledging the high level of discomfort that the Orangetown and Nanuet communities have expressed with the expansion application by chemical tech start-up Anellotech, the Orangetown Planning Board decided Wednesday night to continue its public hearing on the matter and require Anellotech to submit a long form environmental assessment form. Previously the board had issued a negative impact declaration based on the short form submitted in September, but since that time vocal opponents to the project have raised questions about the safety of air emissions from the proposed “vent stack” as well as chemical storage and transportation at the Pfizer site. It is the quantity and composition of the vented gases that has most concerned the community. Anellotech continues to maintain that its cutting edge catalytic pyrolysis process, designed to transform organic biomass into benzene, toluene and xylene, is safe and poses no threat to the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
At the crowded Wednesday night hearing, however, residents continued to express fears about toxic exposure and urged the board to make no final decision until every safety question is fully and truthfully answered. Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart, Clarkstown chief planner Joe Simoes and Legislator Pat Moroney all also lent their voices in favor of moving cautiously. At the end of the meeting, and over Anellotech counsel David Brenner’s objections, the board agreed, citing the need in particular to allay concerns about air emissions monitoring. The board also appeared to be interested in the Clarkstown Planning Board suggestion that Anellotech set up an escrow account to pay for an independent monitor who would provide constant monitoring at the site. Current state requirements for a research and development facility only mandate that the company keep 5 years’ worth of records to make available for DEC inspection.