In Brief / en bref...
Biosolids digestion is planned for the Albany, NY region.
Albany and Saratoga Counties have created a legal entity that plans to design, build, and operate a regional biosolids digestion facility, likely in Menands, NY. See coverage in Biomass and The Saratogian.
Meanwhile, regional biosolids digestion is being considered by Greenfield, MA.
The story of malodor in an Alabama town emanating from a trainload of New York City "sewage sludge" or "bio-waste" has been in the media for two months. New York City digests its solids, and they are safe for use on land or for landfill disposal. According to media reports, the odorous trainload was stuck in limbo until last week because the landfill to which it was headed was ordered by a federal court not to accept it.
The events are reminders of the barges that plied the waters off New York and New Jersey and raised concerns that led to the ocean dispersal ban in the late 1980s. The nutrients that impacted ocean systems back then are what belong in soils - but can be a major factor in creating malodors (e.g. nitrogen compounds). Over the past 40 years, biosolids quality has improved dramatically, because of industrial pretreatment. But odors and perceptions of the material continue to challenge wastewater solids management in some situations.
Some of the extensive nationwide coverage of the story included:
- the Wall Street Journal, March 30th
- the local Jasper, AL Mountain Eagle, March 31st
- NJ.com coverage, April 5th
The situation now seems to be resolved, as the train cars have been emptied, as reported recently:
A proposed biosolids processing facility faces opposition in rural New York State. Lystek has proposed a regional processing facility similar to its award-winning successful operation in Ontario. That facility faced local opposition when it was proposed, and Lystek worked for two years with the community to resolve concerns. The proposed facility in NY was voted down by the local Planning Board in March in a decision contested by Lystek. Most recently, divisions in the town have led to resignations and new appointments to the Planning Board. Those opposed to the facility are trying to have the County involved as well. Lystek has worked hard on community engagement, as they have with past projects. As noted by MABA, Lystek President Kurt Meyer provided a review of the facts of the project, and Lystek created posters and outreach materials that are worth reviewing as examples of thoughtful, respectful community outreach and involvement.
The Slate Belt biosolids facility proposed by Synagro, Waste Management, and others for northeast Pennsylvania continues to meet obstacles. But a public meeting the first week of April provided important information exchange, as noted in this Morning Call article.
Gilmanton, NH voters have banned local biosolids use, based on typical arguments. But farms that have been using it - some for decades – may well continue to do so. Several citizens in town have been opposing biosolids use on the farms near them, in large part because of malodors and other nuisances. In 2016 and several prior years, voters turned down proposed bans. The issue was not before voters in 2017. This year's ban is part of the Town's zoning ordinance and will apply to any new uses of biosolids. But, according to legal advice from the NH Municipal Association, "A farming operation that is already using biosolids in conformance with NH Department of Environmental Services Regulations (Env-Wq 800; Env-Wq 1600), and best management practices would be allowed to continue that use as a non-conforming use." Because of the ban, many wastewater treatment facilities will increase the fees they charge for septage originating in Gilmanton; those facilities reason that if the Town will not support their biosolids recycling program, then that Town is adding to increased costs for solids management.
The Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA) has created a Biosolids and Manure Task Force to advance data and understanding on how these soil amendments are regulated and managed across the U. S. NEBRA is participating in the Task Force.
New RFPs have been issued by the Water Research Foundation (the new sum of WE&RF + WRF). These Requests for Proposals (deadlines in late June and August) are from the "Focus Area Research Program," and include Project #4915 (deadline in August): "Characterization and Contamination Testing of Source Separated Organic Feedstocks and Slurries for Co-Digestion at Resource Recovery Facilities." Details...
How significant can biosolids be in sequestering carbon (C) in soils? Rebecca Ryals, Ph.D., currently at the University of California, Merced, has been a part of the Marin Carbon Project research in the past, which is looking at how building carbon stores in soils can mitigate climate change. Now Dr. Ryals is conducting greenhouse trials, using various biosolids products, to understand impacts on crops and the emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). Her team will also evaluate soil C, nitrogen, and microbial communities at biosolids application sites versus control unamended soils.
NH DES's Water Division Director, Eugene Forbes is retiring this spring, after 4 years with the agency. His replacement has not been determined.
La Coop, a farming cooperative in Quebec, now owns most of (75%) of Viridis Environment, a Quebec biosolids management company that recycles 350,000 tons of residuals on 500 farms each year. Viridis founder and director Simon Naylor says "I'm now mostly owned by a group of farmers!" Farm cooperatives and suppliers (also, for example, Truro Agromart) in eastern Canada have integrated biosolids and other recycled organic residuals into their operations - so owning a residuals recycling company is a natural step.
U. S. EPA has announced new rulemaking for blending.