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Grease-to-fuel project in Great Neck gets boost from state grant

The Great Neck Water Pollution Control District area,

The Great Neck Water Pollution Control District area, where a grease receiving station would handle grease from area restaurants, on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014 in Great Neck. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Turning cooking oil from burgers, fries and woks of sesame chicken into fuel is on the menu in North Hempstead, with a state grant to help fund a proposed grease-receiving station.

The Great Neck Water Pollution Control District wants to treat grease from area restaurants and process it to create energy-saving biofuel to power the new microturbines. The district can currently treat some grease, but not on the scale proposed for its East Shore Road plant.

North Hempstead Town has the capability at its solid waste management facility in Port Washington to turn some grease into fuel, but the proposed receiving station would allow the process on a commercial scale.

The Great Neck receiving station is to cost about $1 million as part of $16 million in planned upgrades to the district wastewater treatment plant, officials said. Earlier this month, New York State awarded the project $270,000, which allows the district to bond less for the station and would save taxpayers $200,000 annually, district superintendent Christopher Murphy said.

"It's a pretty exciting project," he said. "Nobody else is doing it."

The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, operated by Nassau County in East Rockaway, has not accepted grease for about seven years. Businesses largely send grease to private stations in Suffolk County or elsewhere in New York State, hauling industry representatives have said.

Murphy said the Great Neck plant would be able to process 1,100 gallons of grease a day.

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said in an emailed statement that grease collection stations "make great sense at Pollution Control Districts because they help to address the energy needs of the Plant by working with the existing resource recovery systems."

Other upgrades to the district wastewater plant include upgrading the waste digester system for $9.9 million, renovating sludge dewatering facilities for $2.7 million and relining a sewer system for $1 million.

A hearing on the bond application to fund the improvements will be held Jan. 7 at district headquarters at 236 East Shore Rd. The proposal will then need to be approved by the North Hempstead Town Board.

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