Weatherford Democrat

August 12, 2013

TCEQ meeting over sludge spraying Tuesday in Springtown


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE



SPRINGTOWN – After receiving 15 complaints from Parker County residents in May and June regarding the stinky treated-sewage product spread across pasture land south of Springtown, the TCEQ investigated a but found no odor nuisance violations at the Parker County site, according to a report released by the TCEQ last week.

Many residents said they could not go outside because of the smell. Others said the odor made them feel ill. Some were concerned about health and environmental effects of the foul-smelling sludge that attracted many flies to the area.

The TCEQ voted in June to open a rule-making process for current biosolids application regulations and scheduled a stakeholder meeting in Parker County.

The meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Springtown Senior Center. Comments are expected to be limited to 3 minutes per person.

Renda Environmental, the contractor who handles the Fort Worth product, says the sludge is safe, environmentally friendly and shouldn’t attract flies.

One Parker County complainant alleged that after spending an extended length of time outdoors the odors caused nausea. However, the complainant did not complete and return a blank affidavit provided to document the impact on their health, according to the TCEQ.

The investigator conducted odor surveys surrounding the site on the afternoons of June 5, June 13 and June 20, the day after the sludge spreading stopped, and noted the intensity of the smell at various locations but did not go on the application site or meet with Renda personnel.

“During the days of this investigation, odors were not detected at a complainants’ property at a frequency, intensity, duration and offensiveness to confirm odor nuisance,” the TCEQ report stated.

TCEQ did note several violations by the same company at Wise County locations in May.

One of the violations in Wise County was for strong, offensive odors resembling decaying flesh and raw sewage traveling off-site and impacting neighbors. The investigator felt nauseous because of the odors, and workers at a nearby location were observed to be wearing surgical masks to avoid the odors.

Employees at the neighboring property vomited due to the odors and a meeting scheduled at the location had to be moved because of the smell, according to written statements provide by two citizens near the Decatur site.

Local elected officials, including Parker County Commissioner George Conley, County Judge Mark Riley and State Rep. Phil King, got involved in the issue after many constituents living in the vicinity of the area off of Hutcheson Hill Road complained of a strong offensive odor driving them indoors.

About three weeks after the application began, the City of Fort Worth told the contractor, Renda Environmental, to halt their application in Parker County.

There is no permit required or other restrictions, such as buffer zones, enforced when applying the sludge because of the higher standards for Class A biosolids, which must meet certain metal limits as well as meet certain pathogen and vector attraction reduction requirements according to the TCEQ. Instead, the company notifies the state of where they intend to apply the biosolids, and local officials can do little to prohibit it.