Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What to do with dried sludge

Blue Plains Advanced Water Treatment Plant processes “375 million gallons of the area’s wastewater per day.” They have created a new fertilizer product called Blue Plains (Class B), which is dried sludge (with the water removed from it) and lime added to it. This product is transported free of charge to different locations in Virginia which cost the water treatment plant about $10 million. The water treatment plant plans on improving their product to a Class A product which would be much safer and eventually sold to the public.Those individuals in opposition to the production and use of biosolids claim that “no class of biosolids can be viewed as safe.” There have been many reports of Class B biosolids causing illness among people who reside near where these biosolids have been applied to the land; however, Class B biosolids have been found to work as a great fertilizer. Also, a permit is required to be able to apply Class B biosolids to a piece of land. In general, there are very strict regulations for the use of Class B biosolids. The controversy of this issue is that people are skeptical of the use of biosolids and their potential impacts on the environment such as increasing levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in waterways from agriculture runoff.

I believe that Class B biosolids should not be used on the land because of the negative effects it has on the environment and the public; however, I do think that Class A biosolids should be used as long as they are proven safe for the environment and the public. There are too many negative externalities involved with Class B biosolids, but with Class A biosolids the benefits seem to outweigh the costs. The Class A biosolids does not contain any pathogens, so this biosolids would be safe to use for food crops. Unfortunately, the Class B biosolids could contain a large number of diseases. The water treatment plant has the challenge of finding a way to dispose of all the waste created by the residents. Therefore, they should try to recycle as much as the material as possible instead of relying on landfills to dispose of the material. Between the tradeoff of disposing of the sludge in a landfill and reusing the treated material as a fertilizer, if possible the reuse of the material seems like the better choice.
--Pamela Hargest

1 comment:

  1. I think if the biosolids can be made to contain no harmful pathogens then I think that this would be a very good way to get rid of the excess solids. Farmers have been doing this for years and as long as loading limits for nitrogen and phosphorus are not exceeded by the farmer then there should not be a problem with excess runoff.

    S. Haines