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Company adding to sewage stench?
ADEM documents show 122 violations since July 2005

By Eric Fleischauer ∑ 340-2435

One of the culprits in creating the stench that has for months wafted from the sewer treatment plant on Alabama 20 may have been identified, according to Decatur Utilities Interim Manager Stan Keenum.

Biological Processors of Alabama Inc. on Finley Island Road has violated pollution-discharge limitations 122 times since July 2005, with 27 violations in January alone, according to documents released Tuesday by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

"We're looking at them as being one of the companies that could have contributed to some of the odor problems," Keenum said. "There's two or three companies that have had test results suggesting they may have contributed to the odor problem, and BPA is one of them."

Keenum would not name the other companies until DU completes additional testing. He said DU has alerted Biological Processors it expects the company to contribute to DU's cost in trying to solve the malodorous problem.

The odor has been particularly objectionable due to the treatment plant's location. It is across the street from Leon Sheffield Magnet School, next to Ingalls Marina and near a riverfront residential development.

Officials with Biological Processors did not return calls. The company, according to its Web site, processes waste for customers in the steel and chemical industries.

A proposed ADEM order, signed by Biological Processors on April 5, would fine the company $56,500. The order will not take effect until after a public comment period, which ends May 17.

Biological Processors' January violations included excessive discharges of oil and grease, copper, tin, zinc, p-Cresol, n-Octadecane and xylene into DU's waste-water treatment plant. Past discharges have also included cobalt, benzene, vanadium, toxic organics and mercury.

According to ADEM records, after receiving a notice of violation, Biological Processors in March 2006 said it would obtain new equipment to correct the problem. Even after the date the equipment was to be installed, however, Biological Processors consistently violated daily and monthly discharge limitations.

According to an ADEM report, the violations caused "no known environmental effects."

Keenum said in addition to the chemicals that triggered ADEM's citations, Biological Processors has been releasing excessive amounts of sulfates, which also contribute to the treatment plant's odor problems.

Sewer users must comply with a local sewer use ordinance that, among other restrictions, bans sewage consisting of "any noxious or malodorous liquids, gasses or solids which, either singly or by interaction with other wastes, are sufficient to create a public nuisance."

The consent order requires BPA to evaluate and modify its treatment facility to avoid future violations. It requires the company to operate within pollutant limitations within a year. During that year, the order would require BPA to pay $400 for every daily violation of maximum pollutants, and $800 for every monthly violation.

The company also must pay fines of up to $300 per day for missing any deadlines contained in the order.

ADEM spokesman Jerome Hand said ADEM's action against the company would not directly benefit DU. If DU sustained losses as a result of the violations, it must pursue Biological Processors on its own.

"We are discussing with them what they have to do to rectify the situation," Keenum said, "including what they may have to pay for money we've expended at the plant on the problem."

To contact ADEM

Public comments about Biological Processors of Alabama Inc. should be mailed to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, attention James E. McIndoe, chief of the Water Division, at P.O. Box 301463, Montgomery, Ala. 36130-1463. All comments must reach ADEM by the close of business May 17.

For more information, ADEMís Water Division phone number is (334)-271-7823. Its e-mail address is

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