SIDNEY — Disposal of lime sludge from the city of Sidney’s water treatment plant has resulted in investigations by the Ohio EPA and the Sidney-Shelby County Board of Health, which is responsible for enforcing Ohio’s solid waste laws and regulations.
The city and a subcontractor have received notices of noncompliance with those regulations.
Lime sludge is a byproduct of water treatment. The city has a contract with Eagle Bridge in Sidney for just under $5 million for the repair of lime lagoons. In order to repair the lime lagoons, the lime sludge must be removed. Eagle Bridge subcontracted with Pohlkat Inc., of Sidney, to dispose of the sludge.
The Sidney Daily News reported April 14 that Jim Pohlman, who is a principal of Pohlkat Inc., had submitted an application to the village of Botkins for a permit to create a lime lagoon on his farm within the city limits of Botkins. Lime is a good fertilizer. According to Village Administrator Randy Purdy, Pohlman wants to store excess lime sludge for his own use and to make it available to other farmers.
The Ohio EPA became involved when it responded to a complaint by one of Pohlman’s neighbors. In the ensuing investigation, it found that the city of Sidney had been issued a permit for the Sidney Water Treatment Plant on March 10, 2014, and was told at that time that a plan for the management of lime sludge was due by Oct. 1, 2014. The plan was never submitted.
The city must have a specific permit for the management, storage, application and disposal of lime sludge or the sludge is considered solid waste. The Ohio EPA sent a letter dated April 14, 2017, to Gary Clough, Sidney’s public works director, saying that because a plan had not been found, the city was in violation of the treatment plant permit regulations. It gives the city 30 days to provide a plan to the Ohio EPA.
The Sidney-Shelby County Board of Health (BOH) sent a letter dated April 20, 2017, to Pohlman, advising him that he was in violation of five Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code regulations having to do with solid waste management.
“Lime sludge should be managed as solid waste if the land application is not authorized (under the code),” the letter said. “The Sidney Water Treatment Plant does not currently have a lime sludge management plan, and as such this material would be managed as solid waste…”
Therefore, the notice says Pohlman is guilty of open dumping, of owning property on which there is open dumping, of establishing a new solid waste facility without a permit, of operating a solid waste facility without a license, and of conducting solid waste operations without a license.
The BOH has given Pohlman 14 days to provide documentation that actions have been taken to resolve the violations.
“It is recommended to immediately cease hauling any more lime sludge away from the city of Sidney spent lime storage facility for land application or offsite storage within Shelby County,” the letter says. It also suggests that Pohlman may be legally responsible for remedying “conditions resulting from any release of contaminants to the environment.”
Pohlman could not be reached for comment.
Clough said the city is now working on a lime sludge management plan, which will be submitted to the Ohio EPA by the middle of next week.
“If we had a plan in place, the lime would be considered lime and it would not be an issue,” he said. “Because Pohlman hauls for other places, too, it could be ours and others’ (sludge) that is stuff of concern.”
All city contracts stipulate that contractors must comply with all state and federal laws. Tom Frantz, vice president of Eagle Bridge, said that Eagle Bridge contracts also specifically require compliance with laws and regulations.
Dina Pierce, a spokesperson for the Ohio EPA, said sites for land application must be approved.
“As the city develops the lime sludge management plan, it can begin the process to gain approval of sites for land applying the material to continue the practice. Ohio EPA supports beneficial reuse of lime sludge if done properly and according to state regulations.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.