Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New England Fertilizer to pelletize DWSD sludge


The New England Fertilizer Company (NEFCO) is coming to Detroit.  It’s purpose will be to dispose of sewage sludge, sometimes called biosolids, generated by the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD).  

The same purpose brought Synagro Technologies, Inc. to Detroit in 2007 and Vista Disposal, Inc. in 1980, but the exposure of corruption in those two deals stopped them in their tracks.

Inability to properly dispose of sludge is what caused DWSD to dump the nutrient-rich sludge into the Detroit River.  The river carried it to Lake Erie, where nutrients like phosphorus fueled oxygen-sapping algae blooms.  

As a consequence, DWSD has been cited on a number of occasions for violations of the Clean Water Act.  The problem has been so intractable that federal and state intervention was necessary for 35 years.

NEFCO has been in business since 1986.  It operates facilities adjacent to wastewater treatment plants large and small around the country.  

Under a 20 year contract with DWSD for nearly $700 million, NEFCO will operate a plant it is to construct on Jefferson Ave., opposite DWSD’s principal wastewater facilities.  The plant is expected to be completed in 2016.   It will produce pellets suitable for fertilizer or burning as a source of energy.

The project is intended to replace DWSD’s obsolete incinerators.  Planners anticipate that NEFCO will dispose of approximately 300 of the average 500 (so called) dry tons of sludge produced by DWSD daily.  Most of the rest will go to landfills.

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