Glen residents challenge biosolids representatives

PHOTOGRAPHER:
Town of Glen residents gathered at town hall on Thursday to have their questions answered by representatives of the Lystek company moving into the Glen business park stand during the planning board meeting Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

GLEN —

Concerned residents of the town spoke out against the Lystek International Limited company’s proposal to build a biosolid plant put in the Glen Canal View Business Park during the planning board’s regular meeting Thursday night.

Residents packed the town hall with every seat filled and some standing.

Lystek is a Canadian-based waste treatment technology company that take biosolids which are organic, nutrient-rich materials — also known as treated sewage sludge —that is recycled into a liquid fertilizer. They use the combination of heat, alkali and a high-shear mixing to process and break down the material.

Stella Gittle, a town resident, said the Lystek company takes sewage sludge from sewer waste treatments as input to their product.

“They take that product and they create a fertilizer. The fertilizer that they [produce] can not be used in any farm land that produces crops for human consumption, so they’re talking about a great fertilizer but you can’t use it on farm lands that produce products for human consumption,” Gittle said. “They can only be used on farmlands that has grass for feed for animals, which is still in the food chain.”

Representatives of Lystek were there to give a brief presentation on their company and their proposed plans for the plant that would go in the business park.

The presentation was cut short due to the residents’ immediate questions and interruptions. The representatives listened to what residents had to say and answered any questions they had. There representing Lystek were Kevin Litwiller, director of marketing and communications; Rick Mosher, chief technology officer; Jim Belcastro, business develop manager; and Mike Doughdrty, director of product management.

One concerned resident asked if they would be prepared if there were ever a fire and if they have reached out to Montgomery County Emergency Management or any of the local fire departments.

“We do have emergency management plans on all of the sites, ”Mosher said. “We do have protection for any upset conditions.”

Rosalie Farina wanted to know how many gallons of water they planned to use a day.

“Our water use is very small, about 1,000 gallons a day,” Mosher said

Steve Helmin, town historian asked how that compares to how much water a house would use on a daily basis.

Mosher said a home would use about a few hundred gallons a day.

“The vast majority of materials coming into this are sewage sludge either in a cake or a watery form from municipal waste water treatment plants, right?” Helmin asked.

Litwiller confirmed that was correct.

Helmin then continued to ask if there are any plans for any other materials coming in.

Litwiller explained that there is a third-party analysis that takes place at the waste water treatment plants or at the generator and if they don’t have any data or analysis they won’t even consider accepting other materials.

Mosher added that they know before hand what is coming in and everything is pre-arranged.

Residents also wanted to know how Lystek became aware of the small town of Glen to build their plant, if approved.

Belcastro explained that it was through economic development.

“Part of it is reaching out to economic development and part of it is also reaching out to the appropriate local folks and made that contact at the time with Larry Coddington, [the previous town of Glen supervisor] who facilitated the first couple presentations,” he said.

Residents raised many other issues.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve had this kind of feedback because we happen to be in a business that is not very well understood and there’s a lot of misinformation that circulates around about it as well,” Litwiller said. “All we can try to do is try to be as transparent as we can, be as present as we can and try to answer questions.”

After two hours of heated discussions, Chairman Frank Casler, cut off the meeting. He said they would take a list of remaining questions and the Lystek representatives would get back to them with the answers.

The Lystek company has yet to submit their formal application, which is one of the first steps to be taken before any actions regarding the company can be made.

Casler said depending when they submit their formal application, there would be a public hearing held in February or March. He said voting would be months away.

Casler said the planning board would first vote and if it was approved, it would then be recommended to the town board who would ultimately get the final vote.

By Patricia Older

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