Sewage Sludge in the News

November 23, 2011

  • Sewage Plant Closed for Violations Sparks Local Conflict: The sewage composting facility in Lamont, California that was recently closed by unanimous vote of the County Board of Supervisors after two brothers working at the plant died from inhaling a fatal concentration of hydrogen sulfide, is the subject of conflict in Kern County. The plant employed more than 130 people, who now expect to be laid off within weeks. Some 60 of them protested in front of the County of Kern Administrative Center on Tuesday. County Supervisor Karen Goh helped organize a job fair for the workers that took place at the same time as the protest. Organizers estimate that more than 100 people came to that event, which featured 18 agencies offering employment, housing and food. Meanwhile, a hearing to stay the closure of the plant, operated by the Lamont Public Utility District, was postponed to next Tuesday (Bakersfield Californian, 11/22).
  • Two Indiana Towns Fined for Spreading Too Much Arsenic-Heavy Sludge: Albany, Indiana has already paid a civil penalty, and Union City is facing one, both for problems with their methods of dealing with sewage sludge. Union City has allegedly been spreading so much sludge on soil that it exceeded the towns’ arsenic concentration limits of 75 milligrams per kilogram. Albany allegedly failed to submit monthly reports about how much treated wastewater it was releasing into the Mississinewa River (a tributary of the Wabash River in the Mississippi River watershed) (Muncie Star Press, 11/20).
  • Proposed Sewage Sludge Composting Plant Runs into Legal and Financial DifficultiesAccording to the Desert Dispatch (11/16), ”Nursery Products plans to build an 80-acre facility that, once constructed, will accept 400,000 tons of waste product per year — half biosolids, or treated human waste, and half green waste, such as tree trimmings and grass clippings.” It would accept sewage from the city of Barstow, California. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and (the plant would be built near Hinkley) have been involved in a successful lawsuit against Nursery Products for six years, but Nursery Products has asked for an extension on the next payment due CBD. “We haven’t made money in six years,” said Chris Seney, Nursery Products director of operations. “Six years ago we started plans for this facility and we won’t make money until we start operations.”  But apparently the company ”doesn’t foresee any financial issue once [they] can start building.” The facility would “be the largest open-air compost facility in the state.”
  • “Even the Cleanest Wastewater Contributes to More ‘Super Bacteria’, Study Finds”: “A new University of Minnesota study reveals that treated municipal wastewater — even wastewater treated by the highest-quality treatment technology — can result in significant quantities of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, often referred to as ‘super bacteria,’ in surface waters” (Science Daily, 11/14).

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