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Grease plant eyes expansion

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A Long Island City business with a unique pedigree in the city is preparing to quadruple the size of its operation, which may mean more grease trucks in the largely industrial neighborhood.

After a two-year application review, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is close to approving a request by A&L Recycling to add several more storage and processing tanks to its cooking oil and grease recycling operation.

A&L is the only legal grease and cooking oil recycler in the city. It serves restaurants, supermarkets and meat processors in all five boroughs, said President Livio Forte, who started recycling these substances in 1994.

"I pick up this waste for free," Forte said of the cooking oil, noting he charges a small fee for the grease. "Before they used to just throw it down their drains or dry wells."

The facility currently can process 7,500 gallons of oil and grease a day, with the ability to store 21,000 gallons, said Bob LoPinto, the engineer representing A&L.

Citing a restaurant boom in areas like Flushing, the company wants to up its processing capacity to 30,000 gallons a day and increase its total storage to 73,000 gallons, all at its current indoor facility.

Most of the grease and cooking oil A&L recycles goes to Asia, where it is converted into soap, LoPinto said. The company is now working on having some of the cooking oil processed into biodiesel at a site upstate, Forte said.

Only two people were present at a public information session held by the company last Thursday, largely because no homes are within a 400-foot radius of the facility, the range within which the law requires notification.

"I live in this area, and I only found out about it through the state," said Diane Ballek, a community liaison for state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside).

LoPinto said he had placed notices of the meeting in several local English and Spanish language newspapers and notified Community Board 2.

"It is the community that gets impacted by the truck traffic," said Evelyn Cruz, a liaison for U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn), whose district includes portions of Queens.

Truck traffic is slated to increase along the already-crowded Review Avenue, which currently has a volume of 700 trucks an hour, Lo Pinto said. But many of those trucks belong to Waste Management, which operates a large facility nearby, he said. The number of A&L trucks would go from five a day to around 20 a day, LoPinto said.

A public comment period is open until Oct. 17. Comments can be mailed to A&L Recycling, 38-40 Review Ave., Long Island City, NY 11101 or faxed to 718-937-1832. For more information, visit www.alrecycling.net.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 6:40 pm, October 10, 2011
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