Archive for Saturday, April 22, 2006

Truck leaks tons of biosolids

Crews clean up spill as stench fills neighborhoods

April 22, 2006


It might be the most fragrant traffic mishap in Lawrence history.

About 8:35 a.m. Friday, a truck carrying 19 tons of "biosolids" - basically fertilizer made of treated human feces - spilled much of its contents along a roughly two-block area of Haskell Avenue. The mess closed traffic on Haskell for two hours between 11th and 15th streets, and it caused a stench that floated throughout the neighborhood and into downtown Lawrence.

"The tailgate was open on the thing, and it was just dripping out," said Israel Bermudez, who watched the incident from his yard at 13th and Haskell.

Bermudez joked that he might be able to file a lawsuit for "pain and suffering."

"It stinks," he said.

The truck had been hauling waste from the city's wastewater treatment plant at 1400 E. Eighth St. to be used as fertilizer on a cornfield near Pleasant Grove, said Carl Janssen of NutriJect Systems Inc., the project's general contractor. Janssen said he loaded the truck and checked the latches before it left the plant.

But the truck started leaking shortly before the driver, Sue Deese, of Oskaloosa, turned south from 11th Street onto Haskell Avenue. Deese said she didn't realize there was a problem until a Lawrence Police officer pulled up behind her and stopped her.

The first thought that went through her mind was a two-word phrase that is both predictable and unprintable.

"If they could put you in jail for air-headedness, I'd have a life sentence," she said. "We're gonna grow corn right in the middle of Haskell Avenue, y'all. It's plenty fertilized."

Deese and Janssen estimated that between one-third and half of the truck's contents spilled. Crews from a private contractor and some city vehicles were called to the scene to start scraping the waste up off the pavement and hauling it away.

"All of the city time is going to be billed back to the contractor for that," said Jeanette Klamm, who coordinates the city's treated waste "residuals."

One of the people watching the cleanup was 15-year-old Cody Bonham, who was riding along with a Lawrence Police officer for the day to learn about a possible career in law enforcement.

"I guess I didn't really think about this kind of thing happening to police, that they had to do this kind of stuff," he said.

What are biosolids?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes biosolids as "the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of sewage sludge."

City employee Jeanette Klamm said the waste spilled along Haskell Avenue on Friday did not present a health risk, other than the possibility that a driver might slip on it if it wasn't cleaned up.

"It's gone through treatment ... You've got little microbes that eat that waste for their food source. It's kind of like the equivalent of taking gasoline out of oil," she said. "You can't just take raw sludge and take it out to the fields. It has to be treated through digestion and stabilized."

The city plant on East Eighth Street processes roughly 7,000 tons of waste per year. Three times per year, the city pays private contractors to come and haul the "biosolids" away to be spread on fields as a fertilizer.

13th and Haskell


dizzy_from_your_spin 8 years ago

After Friday's NCAA story broke, I suspect a lot of people in Lawrence were saying "Oh, biosolids".


Pywacket 8 years ago

Cornflakegirl is right. Mr. Weslander (writer of present article), could you or another staff member provide an update and see why these idiots were allowed to do this three times in a row?

FYI, the first incident happened on Haskell (or whatever county road it becomes) shortly after it crosses 31st St, right where it runs past the wetland area. The second incident is that which the LJW has reported. The third happened Friday on (I think) 1100 Road--west of "south Haskell" but east of 59 Hwy.

One time gets them some sympathy. But THREE in short order? They need to be shut down until they can demonstrate to the city and county that this is unlikely to happen again.


kansasdaughter 8 years ago

the citizens of Lawrence finally realize that their sh*t does stink afterall.


compmd 8 years ago

stephanie, i think that was one of the best sentences the ljw has printed in a while. :)


TheEleventhStephanie 8 years ago

"The first thought that went through her mind was a two-word phrase that is both predictable and unprintable."

I'm lovin' it!


cornflakegirl 8 years ago

What LJW failed to mention is that a total of three trucks in three separate incidents and locations lost "loads" of this stuff in less than 24hrs.


8ball 8 years ago

what a crappy story!


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