Department of Ecology News Release - Oct. 14, 2020
Biosolids management company Fire Mountain Farms, Inc., is proposing to add five Lewis County sites to its statewide biosolids land application permit. The Washington Department of Ecology is making the proposal available to the public for review and comment through Dec. 2, 2020.
All five company-owned sites have been closed to biosolids Class B land application since 2016 and include the Big Hanaford, Burnt Ridge, Homestead, Lincoln Creek and Newaukum Prairie sites. If this proposal is approved, Fire Mountain Farms could begin staging and applying Class B biosolids as soon as next year on the agricultural properties. Biosolids long-term storage will be prohibited at all five sites at this time.
What are biosolids
Biosolids is the organic matter left over after domestic or municipal sewage is treated at a wastewater treatment plant or septage management facility. It’s divided into two classes based on its treatment. Class A biosolids eliminate all pathogens, including viruses. Class B biosolids may include pathogens, which is why restrictions are in place during land application that allow time for remaining pathogens to degrade before human contact, such as harvesting crops or grazing animals.
Washington law requires biosolids be put to a beneficial use for the purposes of improving soil quality and growing crops like wheat, corn, grass, hay, and hops. Biosolids can be applied as a liquid, dewatered so they resemble soil, or dried out completely. Ecology regulates wastewater treatment plants that produce biosolids and businesses that apply them.
Review the proposal and submit comments
The public is invited to review Fire Mountain Farm’s proposal and related documents online and submit comments by Dec. 2, 2020.
An online hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 18, is an opportunity for the public to learn about and comment on the proposal. Ecology will either approve, deny, or make revisions to the proposal after all public comments have been evaluated.
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Cleanup activity at three sites will not be affected if proposal is approved
Portions of three of the sites Fire Mountain Farms proposes to land apply biosolids — Big Hanaford, Burnt Ridge, and Newaukum Prairie — are undergoing closure and cleanup activities related to a mixed material formerly classified as a hazardous waste being stored at all three of the proposed locations. All five of the proposed sites had this waste applied to them.
After collecting data showing the mixed material did not contain chemicals at levels considered dangerous, Fire Mountain Farms and Emerald Kalama Chemical — the co-party responsible for the mixed material — filed petitions in 2018 to change its waste classification to solid waste. Ecology and the U.S. EPA approved the petitions in Spring 2020.
The one-time change in waste classification gave the companies a single opportunity to safely dispose of the mixed material as solid waste and clean up any damage done where it was stored. We held a comment period on and approved a final closure plan in Aug. 2020. Biosolids staging and application would not affect any closure and cleanup work at the three locations.