Reprocessed ‘biosolids’ good for fertilizing, bad for noses
by Mark K. Campbell
Lynyrd Skynryd sang, “Ooooh, that smell/Can’t you smell that smell?”
Yes, they can – off Hutcheson Hill Road in Springtown, and for miles and around.
Precinct 1 Commissioner George Conley said that he began getting complaints about a foul odor that appeared to be emanating from somewhere down J.E. Woody Road and off Hutchinson Hill Road.
His investigation revealed “tons and tons” of what is not “a dead cow” as originally suspected but thousands of pounds of “sewer sludge,” Conley said.
The official title of the fertilizer is biosolids.
The commissioner said using biosolids for fertilizer is not illegal.
Still, he said he asked the county judge to check into the situation to see if any statutes were being violated.
Conley said he also contacted Parker County Fire Marshal Shawn Scott and noted that “calls have been made to Austin.”
And now there’s action there: The stench is so bad that Austin is getting in on the situation.
On Monday, June 10, State Representative Phil King released a statement that “answers questions on dumping of human waste.”
King said that he received numerous phone calls and emails about the funky smell in Parker and Wise Counties.
He said, “As soon as my office was notified of this issue, I contacted the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and asked them to look into the matter.”
King said the government entity “has begun enforcement action against the company.”
That company is Renda Environmental, a business in Fort Worth.
Good news, bad news
For local residents upwind, the good news is that action is being taken.
The bad news: “It appears that the current regulations are insufficient to protect neighboring property owners,” King noted.
But that could change come June 18 when TCEQ begins a formal “rule making” process to change regulations on waste dumping.
Anyone in nose-shot of the odor can take part in the regulation-changing deliberations and that includes residents near Boyd who also have complained of the smell from biosolids deliveries there.
King said, “This process will be an open one in which concerned parties have an opportunity to testify in front of the agency and give their input on this important matter.”
Conley said he is not so sure that anything can be done but added, “We did what we could do to stop it.”
According to their web site, Renda creates biosolids which are “the organic residual of treated and processed wastewater and dredge from lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water.”
That would explain why it smells like a lake is “turning over” in the countryside south of Springtown.
(City officials did persuade the spreader to stop long enough to let some of the odor dissipate in advance of the All-American Bike Race that was conducted Saturday, June 8.)
Biosolids are brought to the property via 18-wheelers and then the owner uses a front-end loader to spread the delivery around the acreage, Conley said.
Renda Environmental says their product is “nutrient-rich organic material” that farmers and ranchers use as fertilizer and for soil conditioning.
The company says on its web site that 250 dry tons of its “beneficial reuse” product is spread across 10 Texas counties daily.
Renda Environmental “has never received any regulatory violations,” the web site notes.