Current permits and actions

We issued a new statewide general permit for biosolids management on June 15, 2022. It became effective July 15, 2022 and we received an appeal shortly after. On January 29, 2024, we learned the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) ruled for the appellant. This decision voided the current general permit.

Current permit activities

In June of 2022, we reissued the General Permit for Biosolids Management. Soon after, we received an appeal from Ed Kenney and the Nisqually Delta Association. During the following months, we worked through the appeals process with our legal team. On January 29, 2024, we learned the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) ruled for the appellant. This decision voided the current general permit issued in 2022. The PCHB concluded our Determination of Nonsignificance issued for the General Permit did not comply with SEPA. The Board requests we include “an explicit and full disclosure and review of information on the environmental impacts of PFAS, PBDEs, and microplastics in biosolids,” in the SEPA Checklist and resulting determination.

Ecology will not appeal PCHB’s decision

In issuing the general permit in 2022 and SEPA determination, the biosolids program considered contaminants of concern and potential impacts to human health and the environment. We spoke to this at length in our Response to Comments, received on the Draft General Permit. We also continue monitoring studies on pollutants in biosolids, including work in other states and by the EPA. The EPA continues its efforts towards its Biosolids Screening Tool, as well as finishing method 1633 for PFAS in biosolids and the chemical risk assessment for PFOA and PFOS in biosolids.

The PCHB would have liked to see more substantial discussion and analysis of PFAS, PBDEs, and microplastics in our process. Rather than appeal the Board’s decision, we will move forward with resolving issues highlighted in the PCHB’s decision. We intend to reissue the general permit for biosolids management.

What does this mean for the interim?

The majority of biosolids facilities are eligible for continuing coverage under the previous general permit issued August 2015 and expired September 2020. Facilities may also be covered under agreed orders issued while we were between general permits (2020-2022). There are limits to operating under an expired permit or Agreed Order that impact each facility differently.

If you have questions about how this impacts your facility operations, please reach out to your region biosolids coordinator.

Stay informed about a specific facility

Interested parties can comment on permit applications and proposals, but the way to comment will vary between proposals. Make one of both of the following action to ensure you are notified of permit actions and opportunities to review and provide input.

You can also write directly to a facility and request to join their interested parties list and then notify the Ecology regional biosolids coordinator who manages the facility. Be sure to keep a record of your requests.