Clean-out will lead to bad odor

JOHNSTOWN — The Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility this week is starting to clean out a 600,000-gallon tank, which may generate odors near the plant but future odors may be negated.

The sewage treatment plant this week issued a public notice indicating the facility at 191 Union Ave. in Johnstown is cleaning out a wastewater tank from today through March 27.

“During this time period, odors will be released off-site to surrounding areas,” the notice says.

Facility Manager Wallace Arnold said Tuesday that the worst odors are expected around next Monday through Wednesday, March 25.

“Your patience during this necessary cleaning process is appreciated,” the notice said.

Arnold said that if weather conditions are right, odors from the tank cleaning “should not be an issue.” But he said disturbing sludge at the bottom of such tank “can be odorous.”

He said the 600,000-gallon tank that’s being cleaned is the same discharging tank for milk products that the sewer plant has utilized since 2015. But he said a different process will be utilized after this project is done that may get rid of such odors in the future.

“It just needs to be cleaned,” Arnold said of the tank. “Hopefully, this will be the end of the odors.”

The facility last September sent a one-time, $12,600 civil penalty payment to the state to satisfy old sewage treatment plant odors. The state Department of Environmental Conservation last summer hit the cities’ sewer plant with violations.

Violations were because of ongoing odor problems the facility has had related to start up of its Contact Absorption Settling Thickening system, or CAST system process. The sewage treatment plant several years ago underwent an $8 million CAST upgrade to treat waste byproducts mainly from two Johnstown Industrial Park companies — cheese manufacturer Euphrates Inc. and yogurt manufacturer Fage USA. But the upgraded, more modern CAST system had generated strong odors in the sewer plant area.

Officials said the CAST system spawned unacceptable, rotten-egg odors at the plant, which spread into parts of southern Johnstown. But the CAST system is needed to process large amounts of whey, especially from top sewer plant customer FAGE USA.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

By Kerry Minor

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