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Still a way to protect air quality around power plant if deal gets pushed through
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Still a way to protect air quality around power plant if deal gets pushed through

by Joseph KisselSeptember 1, 2021

There’s considerable concern regarding a proposed plan to operate a “computer farm” on Erie Ave. — performing energy intensive “bitcoin mining” in trailers there —and run the power plant full blast to power it.

There are also many questions remaining after the presentation (which was absolutely not a public hearing and would have included experts without a bias-inducing financial interest). 

Digihost CEO Michel Amar (above center) was finally on hand Aug. 18 at a meeting of the NT common council to ostensibly to answer questions and assuage neighbors’ concerns. But as one speaker remarked, it only raised more.

One point that Amar made clearly, though, was that Digihost wanted to be “welcomed” into North Tonawanda.

As proof of that commitment to be a long-term, increasingly “green company” providing excellent salaries for city residents, Amar said the company will agree to cut power generation at the plant to help accommodate the needs of the power grid in the event of a heat wave or power generation situations.

If officials were listening to the dozens of residents who waited hours to address Amar and the council, most spoke about the environmental uncertainty surrounding the project and especially when many families were still dealing with the industrial legacy and the forever brownfield of the former Durez chemical plant just a stone’s throw from the Fortistar plant.

Almost no time was spent by Amar or other company officials addressing the air quality issues and the potential “greenhouse dome” that would surround the plant, which would be operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

However, even if this deal goes through there’s still a solution to make Digihost a good neighbor that is in fact “welcomed” in the community.

And that’s to make sure the air quality is within a range we agree upon is healthy for residents.

Let’s get the DEC involved and have the state agency monitor the air quality around the plant, especially downwind.

When the air quality is trending unacceptable, the power plant adjusts production to keep it in compliance and in good faith with neighbors. When the weather patterns or other factors become more favorable, “bitcoin mining” production resumes. 

Ta-dah!

It’s pretty simple and completely analogous to Amar and Digihost’s public commitment during the meeting to cut facility use when the power grid is maxed out.

The air quality around the plant is more important than running our air conditioners or even keeping the lights on.

Because our health is our true wealth.

And I’m sure Michel Amar and Digihost would agree that being a good neighbor and being “welcomed” into the community starts right there.

A complete recording of the meeting as well as reaction to the council majority voting down a proposed 3-month moratorium on bitcoin mining in NT can be found at the Niagara News Source Youtube channel.

This deal seems to have been orchestrated by county officials who first approved the project and then saw it moved through local channels almost undetected until one individual saw fit to involve the public in this unprecedented use of the facility.

About The Author
Joseph Kissel
Joseph Kissel is a journalist, editor and photographer. He is also a candidate for the 9th Legislative District in Niagara County.

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