A Lewis County biosolids distributor under review by the Department of Ecology is looking for approval to apply the organic compound at a property on 128th Avenue in Yelm.
Ecology will hold a public meeting to take comment on the application at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24 at the Yelm Senior Center.
Fire Mountain Farms, that also works in cattle farming and lagoon dredging, submitted the application to distribute class-B biosolids on a 265-acre parcel of land owned by Abston Henricksen Timber. The land is about a thousand feet from the Nisqually River, according to application documents. There are no known threatened or endangered species on or near the sight.
Biosolids are a sludge-treated organic compound often used as an alternative or in addition to fertilizer. When regulated and thoroughly tested, biosolids on applied sites haven’t been known to cause damage to public health, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Abston Henricksen Timber use biosolids as a supplemental fertilizer on their farms to help grow pasture for their cattle.
President Jason Abston said the pasture and hay is only used within the confines of their operation. Biosolid alternatives also save them thousands of dollars annually.
Back in 2014, Fire Mountain Farms’ operation came under scrutiny by the Department of Ecology for cutting biosolids with sludge, which is not as refined and potentially carries hazardous elements.
Ryan Thode, vice president of operations at Fire Mountain Farms, said they were receiving the sludge solution since about 1995. Although the Department of Ecology began their crackdown of Fire Mountain in 2014, Thode said the department has been aware of their mixture since 2001.
“The worst part about it was this was one of the most consistent material that we got,” Thode said. “It was great fertilizer and it was going to be the same everyday coming in.”
Thode said he insists the combination is safe for land use, although he wouldn’t digest it. He said if he were in Oregon, he wouldn’t have this much of a problem with regulation.
The process for regulating Fire Mountain Farms is still ongoing and they no longer handle both sludge and biosolids mixture.
“I would not put my own cattle on it if we thought it was at all dangerous,” Abston said.