By STEVE BROWN
The Washington Department of Ecology has scheduled public hearings on proposed rule changes for managing compost facilities and digesters, which turn manure and agricultural waste into fertilizer and other end products.
The amendments change provisions of Washington Administrative Code 173-350, the "Solid Waste Handling Standards."
As the solid waste management system has processed more diverse feedstocks in greater quantities, the capacity of the system has been strained, Kyle Dorsey, at the agency's Waste 2 Resources Program, said. In some cases the smell has bothered neighbors.
Ecology is directed by statute to provide permit exemptions for qualified anaerobic digesters. Dorsey said the agency believes more conditional permit exemptions for small digesters and compost facilities will provide relief from administrative burdens while continuing to protect the environment.
"The amendments to the rule are intended repair the problems while preserving the long-term integrity of critical solid-waste management system elements," he said.
Large-scale composting facilities would be required to:
* Plan for response to odor complaints.
* Train facility personnel.
* Conduct representative sampling of product quality.
* Address site management in product storage areas.
* Control agricultural pests.
The amendments would also:
* Protect long-term markets for compost products by improving compost quality.
* Allow for new methods of handling organic materials.
* Encourage development of small facilities through expansion of conditional permit exemptions.
* Adopt permit exemptions for qualified anaerobic digesters.
* Describe permit requirements for non-exempt digesters.
The proposed rule language and related documents are available at Ecology's website: www.ecy.wa.gov/
Two public hearings are scheduled:
* Bellevue -- 1:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at Ecology's Northwest Regional Office, 3190 160th Ave. SE; directions at 425-649-7000.
* Yakima -- 1:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Ecology's Central Regional Office, 15 West Yakima Ave., Suite 200; directions at 509-575-2490.
The comment period ends at 5 p.m. Nov. 2.