A community group in Peachland, B.C., is concerned that a proposed biosolid composting facility could be built on the old Brenda Mines site, near the district’s water supply source.
Biosolids is typically recycled organic matter which includes human sewage.
“We have concerns about effluent and runoff- and the proximity to that to our drinking water source,” said Alex Morrison, a Penticton Watershed Protection Alliance spokesperson.
“It takes place on a watershed, and we are looking for information on the risks there may or may not be to our water.”
The Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance said it’s not against the proposal at this time.
However, it has concerns, as they say the proposal reveals very little about the potential impacts on the surrounding land.
“It’s very opaque. We have no information, we just don’t know and that’s very frustrating,” said Morrison
“For some of us in the community, it’s a reason to be suspicious.”
Concerns center around the potential contamination of Peachland’s drinking water but the alliance is quick to point out that composting could have positive impacts, if done right.
“It might be a really good thing, everyone here has gardens and has a lot of yard waste,” said Morrison.
“If there is a way to utilize this facility for yard or kitchen waste that could be a good benefit for Peachlanders.”
It’s not the first time a biosolid composting facility has been proposed for Peachland.
“This proposal or a similar one has been before council, I think in 2014. And it was denied by Interior Health because they weren’t confident the plans were adequate enough to protect our water sources, ” Morrison told Global News on Wednesday.
Global News talked to Peachland residents about their thoughts on the proposal.
“I love the idea of recycling,” said Sylvia Peske, a Peachland resident.
“I come from Alberta where it’s really popular. And I feel like that’s one of the areas that B.C. lacks.”
“The biosolids will probably contain pharmaceuticals (within the) human feces. I am really against it,” said Laura Jaster, a Peachland resident.
The alliance will be hosting a community meeting.
They are inviting all Peachland residents to a special presentation on June 24, at the Little Schoolhouse.
Brenda Renewables has offered a statement in an email, answering two questions given.
Question: How does a biosolid composting facility work?
Answer: “It’s important to clarify that the project is not a biosolid composting facility, rather it is a Class A compost facility with the ability to also handle biosolids as a secondary part of the feedstock mix. The site would primarily process residential and commercial organics such as yard and garden waste, food scraps, and winery and orchard organics. Biosolids would be considered as a secondary feedstock from various local municipalities and regional districts. The Class A compost produced at the site would then be used in part to enhance reclamation of the Brenda Mines site, produce Renewable Natural Gas, and reduce the expense and environmental impact of trucking materials outside the region.”
“The process involves a covered aerated static pile system followed by curing and maturing of the finished product to stabilize the compost. Note that all product produced would be rigorously tested to ensure that it meets or exceed Ministry of Environment Class A compost regulations. In addition to accelerating reclamation of the site, the Class A Compost produced would also be offered to local residents and First Nations upon request by local governments. All incoming waste would be received indoors, within a receiving hall that has exhaust air vented through a properly designed and dimensioned bio filter. The aerated composting would occur indoors and the retention time for the anerobic digestion process takes place in an airtight vessel. A wash down facility is included for all trucks delivering waste in order to clear the tires and body of the vehicles prior to leaving the site. Daily maintenance and cleaning of the site will be top priority for the operations team and will be critical to mitigating any limited onsite odours and ensuring safe operation of the site.”
Question: Local residents have concerns that the human waste will negatively impact their water supply – what would you answer or response to that be?
Answer: “Brenda Renewables understands these concerns and appreciates the opportunity to clarify that the project would not release any untreated wastewater. The dewatering process that is applied to the outcoming material from the digester produces a press water that is stored in an onsite storage tank and then re-used to provide humidity for the composting and anaerobic digestion processes if needed. Any excess press water would be trucked offsite and treated at a waste water treatment plant. It’s also important to note that by definition, Class A compost requires a controlled temperature and duration to destroy pathogens. The Class A compost nutrients and stabilized organic matter is a net benefit to restoration of all soils and will greatly speed the revegetation and remediation of the Brenda Mines site.”
The District of Peachland was not available for interview in time for publication.