Biosolids

December 6, 2010

New York Cities applications of biosolids is a very curious and rather counter intuitive process. Biosolids (as we learned from the guest speaker today) are the organic solids that are separated from the sewage collection in NYC.  In 1988 the dumping of biosolids into the ocean was banned by the federal government. There are three main uses of NYC’s biosolids as of today, landfill disposal, composting and lime stabilization. They are thrown into landfills in PA, VA, and NY Suffolk county. To compost biosolids they must be mixed with a bulking agent such as woodchips. NYC’s biosolids are compoasted in Pennsylvania.  NYC’s biosolids are also send to an alkaline stabilizing facility in New Jersey where they are mixed with a highly alkaline material such as Portland cement to be used as an agricultural liming agent.

On the EPA’s website it reads “Thirty years ago, thousands of American cities dumped their raw sewage directly into our nation’s rivers, lakes, and bays. Today, because of improved wastewater treatment, our waterways have been cleaned up and made safer for recreation and seafood harvest. And, because of the strict Federal and state standards, the treated residuals from wastewater treatment (biosolids) can be safely recycled.”. This is rather ironic to me because the new way to “saftey recycle” these biosolids is to turn them into compost which fertilizes agricultural fields that grow everything from animal feed (animals raised for their meat) to produce. In a sense we are still consuming our own shit…

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