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State agency seeking public comment on Caroline County sludge proposal
By RUSTY DENNEN
A Fauquier County company is seeking state approval to spread treated sewage sludge on nearly 6,500 acres in Caroline County.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing a permit application by Recyc Systems Inc. in Remington to apply what's commonly known as biosolids on dozens of farm fields throughout Caroline.
Contractors must secure a Virginia Pollution Abatement permit before applying the sludge, a soil nutrient that recycles the main byproduct of the sewage-treatment process while providing fertilizer for farmers.
The permit would not allow discharge of wastes from the material into nearby waterways, and would expire in February 2020.
Beth Biller, with the DEQ's Northern Regional Office in Woodbridge, said Recyc Systems is one of three contractors with applications in various stages of the permitting process in Caroline.
If approved, the permit would be Recyc Systems' first in the largely rural county, though the company has secured approval to work in other localities in central Virginia and the Northern Neck.
As for the amount of land involved, Biller said, "The acreage for Recyc [in] Caroline is neither the largest or smallest we have seen for the Northern Region."
She said Recyc Systems would have to seek a permit modification to add or remove land once the permit is approved.
On its Web site, Recyc Systems says it provides a "green solution to the disposal of biosolids. We serve municipalities by providing an alternative to dumping and support the agricultural industry by offering a clean, completely natural alternative to chemical fertilizers."
Biosolids would be applied on 6,496 acres owned by about 31 landowners. The smallest field is 4.6 acres along State Route 605 between Burkes Shop and Paige, and the largest is 81 acres along State Route 647 near Reedy Hill, according to the permit application.
Application of the material would vary depending upon the parcel, but cannot exceed 15 dry tons per acre per year. Inclement weather and soil saturation would limit how much could be applied.
Treated areas must be at least 200 feet from homes and 100 feet from water wells, springs and property lines. No more than 100 wet tons can be stored at any site.
The DEQ would monitor the contents of the sludge with periodic tests of the material. That's because biosolids contain heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium and zinc.
For example, no more than 36 pounds of arsenic, a toxic substance, would be allowed per acre per application.
The DEQ took over regulatory oversight of land application of sewage sludge in January 2008 from the Virginia Department of Health. While localities are barred from regulating biosolids, they can employ monitors to ensure that state and federal requirements are met.
The DEQ is accepting public comment on Recyc Systems' application through Feb. 10. Comments can be mailed to Beth Biller, DEQ-NRO, 13901 Crown Court, Woodbridge, Va. 22193, or e-mailed to
Copies of the application are available at the Woodbridge office and by e-mail.
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431
Biosolids are solid, semisolid or liquid materials removed from municipal sewage and treated to be used as fertilizer.
They are divided into two categories: Class A, in which nearly all disease-causing organisms are eliminated, and Class B, which has less restrictive standards and more stringent permit limitations.
In 2006, approximately 263,000 dry tons of biosolids were applied to nearly 56,000 acres in Virginia.