Weatherford Democrat

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June 18, 2013

Sludge spraying stopped for now

County officials plan more steps to prevent sludge placed in fields near homes

By CHRISTIN COYNE

PARKER COUNTY – More than two dozen angry, frustrated residents living near land southwest of Springtown where a contractor for Fort Worth applied treated sewage product as fertilizer for nearly three weeks showed up to a public meeting Monday to voice complaints and find out how to stop it from happening again.

A City of Fort Worth spokesman confirmed to the Democrat Monday that the city ordered the contracting company, Renda Environmental Inc., to cease applying the foul-smelling sludge in Parker County on Friday and are investigating the odor complaints and evaluating options to prevent the issues from occurring again.

The decision came after Parker County Judge Mark Riley said he spoke with Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and council member Jungus Jordan twice last week about the issue, including speaking with Price at an event Thursday night.

Local officials have received dozens of complaints about the Class A biosolids blanketing hundreds of acres of Hutcheson Ranch since Memorial Day. In addition to complaining of the odor that has driven them indoors, many residents also voiced concerns about the health and environmental impacts of the biosolids.

However, because of a state permit allowing the city and contractor to produce the biosolids, the Texas Commission on Environmental is responsible for regulation of the biosolids rather than the Parker County Fire Marshal’s office, which would typically handle many public nuisance complaints, according Fire Marshal Shawn Scott.

TCEQ received nine complaints regarding the sludge in Parker County and was investigating, a spokesman told the Democrat last week.

Results of testing on samples collected by TCEQ in Parker County had not been provided to county officials as of Monday.

There is no permit or other restrictions, such as buffer zones, required to apply 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 TCEQ. Instead, the company notifies the state of where they intend to apply the biosolids.

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