3/31/16

In Brief / en bref...

EPA Biosolids Program Update (thanks to Greg Kester, CASA):  There are several new documents likely to be made public this year related to biosolids under the Part 503 regulatory program.  EPA has completed its risk assessment for 10 constituents - including molybdenum - that were identified in the 2003 bienniel review; publication in the Federal Register is expected soon.  EPA will also release for review a tool developed for risk assessment of other compounds identified in the Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey (2009). Further details of EPA Part 503 activities are available on the NEBRA Members-Only page (contact the NEBRA office if you've forgotten your password).

NY DEC Releases Draft Update of Solid Waste Rules
Biosolids included; comments due by July 15th.
This proposed rulemaking is a comprehensive revision to existing regulations. The existing regulations for solid waste management facilities - including biosolids processing – are currently found in Part  360. A component of this proposed rulemaking is to subdivide the solid waste management facility regulations into groups that are similar in nature, such as facilities that recycle and recover materials. Therefore, the current Part 360 criteria will be found spread out in Parts 360, 361, 362, 363, 365, 366, and 369. This proposed rulemaking also includes revisions to regulations governing waste transportation (Part 364) and state funding of municipal waste reduction and recycling projects (Part 369). In addition to the amendments to existing Parts 360, 364, and 369, this rulemaking will incorporate minor amendments to Parts 621, 361, 362, 363, 370, 371, 372, 373 and 374. For more information, see the DEC website, including a powerpoint presentation.

Vermont DEC sent its required biosolids report to the Legislature on January 16, 2016.  The report, "Act 64 Legislative Report on the Management of Wastewater Treatment Sludge and Septage in Vermont: Current Status and Alternatives to Land Application" can be downloaded here.  The report notes that, at a stakeholder meeting convened by DEC in December 2015, all present supported increased use of biosolids on land.  DEC plans to revise the current regulations and states in the report that the next step is to form an advisory committee to evaluate the underlying issues.

Microbeads banned in Canada:  read news....   (A similar ban was signed into law in the U. S. in December, 2015).

Bridgewater, MA is considering implementing local restrictions on biosolids/septage use. According to Bob Kelly, President of Earth Source, Inc., which has provided biosolids to West Bridgewater farms for many years, this is an ongoing dispute with a couple of neighbors.  In the fall, use of some immature food and solid waste compost from Marlborough increased malodors, instigating additional upset.  The farm has stopped using that compost.  The proposed local ordinance, which will be voted on in June, would likely require submission of reports and test results to the Town and impose management requirements and restrictions, according to a Boston Globe article.

In Massachusetts, drug companies are now responsible for where their products end up.  On March 14th, Governor Charlie Baker signed a law that made Massachusetts the first state in the nation to require drug companies to safely dispose of unwanted medications as part of a comprehensive drug abuse prevention strategy.  This "producer responsibility" law is similar to ones adopted in several California counties.  The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), based in Boston, was instrumental in passing the legislation, which will help also reduce releases of unused drugs to the environment, including wastewater systems.  "We applaud Massachusetts for recognizing that drug companies are responsible for safely managing leftover medicine...," said Scott Cassel, chief executive officer of PSI.

Meanwhile, U. S. FDA is being urged to steer away from recommending flushing of any drugs; see here.

The BNQ Compost Quality Standard has been revised, effective March 7, 2016.  This replaces the prior 2005 version.  This standard interweaves with the Quebec biosolids (MRF) regulations.  Details...

In Quebec, ash from sewage sludge incinerators (SSIs) can now be used as a fertilizer without special permit, if it meets quality standards detailed in the new (December 2015) biosolids regulations.  However, best agonomic practices must be considered. For example, the environment ministry recommends application of any source of phosphorus be no greater than 20 - 60 kg/ha P205 (18 - 54 lbs./acre). Initial research sponsored by the environment ministry (and with some NEBRA collaboration) has indicated that the phosphorus from in SSI ash benefits crops, especially where there is low soil test P.  SSIs manage approximately 50% of Quebec's wastewater solids at Longueil, Montreal, and Quebec City; the latter is planning to close its incinerator and use anaerobic digestion followed by land application for future solids management.

Demonstrating significant benefits of biosolids use in Ontario (from news release in Water Online):  "In 2015 Lystek participated with the Georgian Central Soil and Crop Improvement Association in a trial comparing the use of typical application rates of commercial fertilizer with LysteGro at five field locations. The trials were conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and each treatment was replicated three times at each location. On average, the LysteGro treatments increased yield by 16.5 bushels/acre in comparison to the commercial fertilizer treatments. Other tests conducted during the trial, such as grain protein content and stalk nitrate tests also showed that the LysteGro treatments produced superior results, for lower costs, as compared to commercial fertilizer."  Such research is important to continually demonstrate the value of biosolids products.   Details...

Local biosolids debates continue in Western New York...  The town of Wales is considering a ban, just as its current moratorium is set to expire.  Neighboring Marilla (which has spent$155,000 trying to restrict biosolids) and other area towns have wrestled with the biosolids dispute for more than two years in reaction to quasar energy group's anaerobic digestion projects in West Seneca and Wheatfield.  The NY State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Agricultural Management have both strongly supported use of biosolids, and the State Supreme Court of Erie County found biosolids storage to be an allowed agricultural activity.