In Brief / en bref...

  • Vermont still plagued by indecision about biosolids.  As evident in this article in VT Digger, the leadership at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation remains skeptical about biosolids use on soils, despite abundant information provided at a workshop convened by DEC, comprehensive evaluations of the scientific research by DEC staff, the fact that almost all U. S. states support biosolids use on soils and have active biosolids recycling programs, and DEC's own agency documents encourage recycling to soils with a stated goal of 75% recycling.  (Thanks to Harry Shephard at Stowe for forwarding the Digger article.)
  • Marlborough, MA and WeCare are in conflict over operations at the local long-standing organics composting system, as described in this news coverage.
  • Spent foundry sand: another residual (inorganic) available for soil use:  The U. S. EPA has found benefits and minimal risks in reuse of spent foundry sands.  An Agency news release January 8th stated: “There is potential for substantial growth in the recycling of silica-based spent foundry sands,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Our risk assessment concludes that the evaluated reuses are environmentally appropriate. Advancing the environmentally sound, beneficial use of industrial materials, such as spent foundry sands, provides substantial opportunities for addressing climate change and air quality, enhancing state, tribal and local partnerships, reducing costs, and working toward a sustainable future.”
  • Developing solutions for developing communities... From Bill Gates drinking water from sewage treatment to myriad other inventive uses of human waste that may advance sustainability, there has been interesting recent media coverage of the need for improved sanitation solutions in developing countries.  That's where many people actually die from issues related to human excreta.  The Gates Foundation helped fund the development of a small, contained fluidized bed incineration system intended for use in developing countries.  The first installation will likely be in Senegal. More about excreta, sludge, and biosolids management throughout the world is available in the UN-HABITAT Global Atlas (2008, free download).
  • The quasar energy group continues its efforts for biosolids land application in western New York state, where it has two anaerobic digesters for generating electricity from biosolids and other organic residuals.  See recent media coverage that provides useful perspectives:  Treatment Plant Operator's coverage of quasar's public relations effort and an NFP article comparing quasar experiences in Ohio and western NY.
  • Kern County, CA takes quiet steps to restrict biosolids land application, as noted in the Bakersfield Californian.
  • Annual U. S. Biosolids Reports (due Feb. 19):  In November, U. S. EPA  provided an "FAQ" document and guidance regarding submitting biosolids reports.