BioCycle July 2011, Vol. 52, No. 7, p. 6
Problems Persist With Dupont Herbicide
Difficulties continue with regard to use of the post-emergent broadleaf herbicide Imprelis, developed and marketed by DuPont and bearing the active ingredient aminocylopyrachlor (see Special Report in June 2011 BioCycle). Composters first became concerned over label restrictions that put grass clippings off limits for composting. They read: “Do not use grass clippings from treated areas for mulching or compost, or allow for collection to compost facilities. Grass clippings must either be left on the treated area, or, if allowed by local yard waste regulations, disposed of in the trash. Applicators must give verbal or written notice to property owners/property managers/residents not to use grass clippings from treated turf for mulch or compost.”
About the same time the June issue of BioCycle went to press containing the story “DuPont Label Says Do Not Compost Grass Clippings,” extension agents around the country – including in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania – began to hear reports about tree damage related to Imprelis use. Norway spruce, white pine and maple appear to be particularly vulnerable. “Arborists and landscape managers who are noticing damage to spruce and white pine should be aware of possible herbicide injury,” advises the bulletin on Penn State’s Cooperative Extension website. “On many sites, yellowing, distortion and dieback of terminal growth are occurring on these species. In some cases, more extensive injury causes needle browning on older growth … Imprelis, was used on sites where these symptoms are seen. Root absorption and translocation of Imprelis to new growth would explain these symptoms. Injury may be noticed several weeks after application.” While most deciduous plants located on sites where damage has occurred appear unaffected, there were exceptions, the bulletin stated.
Alarmingly, DuPont and The Scotts MiracleGro Company appear to be moving forward with plans to put aminocyclopyrachor (aka MAT28), the active ingredient in Imprelis that kills weeds – and apparently trees – into a combination lawn fertilizer/herbicide product targeted to homeowners. A DuPont representative listed on the Penn State bulletin as a contact for reporting suspected damage related to Imprelis did not return phone calls for this story, but a spokesman for Scotts said it was too early to draw a conclusive connection between the herbicide and the damage being reported. “It doesn’t appear to be a problem if people are following label directions,” said Scotts spokesman Lance Latham, “and we don’t yet have a product on the market.”
Green City, Clean Waters Plan Gets EPA Approval
Philadelphia’s $2 billion proposal to manage the first inch of rainwater in a major storm event through green infrastructure cleared a major hurdle in June with the historic signing of a consent order between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP) and the Philadelphia Water Department. Green Cities, Clean Water is a comprehensive 719-page 25-year plan submitted to state and federal environmental officials for review two years ago (see “Philadelphia Strives For Green Greatness,” February 2011.) The US EPA has been cracking down, particularly on larger municipalities, to conform to the Clean Water Act and reduce combined sewage overflows (CSOs) by upgrading collection and processing systems. State environmental regulators and local water authorities have primacy to manage CSOs as they see fit, but must meet USEPA’s minimum requirements.
While $2 billion is a substantial amount of money, the alternative – increasing capacity by building more tanks and tunnels to pump and treat the water (which will still be done where installing green infrastructure is not possible) – could have cost the already financially strapped city ten times that much. The plan to turn one-third of the municipalities total drainage area into “green acreage” comes with additional benefits including more parks and trees, spruced-up neighborhoods and green jobs. Green infrastructure tools and techniques to be utilized include pervious pavement, green roofs, rain barrels, storm water tree trenches, vegetated bump-out curb extensions and rain gardens. View the comprehensive Green Cities, Clean Water at www.phillywatersheds.org.
Nominations Open For USCC Industry Awards
Seven awards have been established by the U.S. Composting Council (USCC) to honor members of the industry. They are: Composter of the Year Award, Composting Program of the Year Award, Hi Kellogg Award, Rufus Chaney Award, H. Clark Gregory Award, Clean Water Award and the Jerome Goldstein Lifetime Achievement Award. Go to the USCC homepage (www.compostingcouncil.org) for submission forms and to read more about the awards. Submission deadline is October 1, 2011.
USCC is also seeking board of director candidates, with seven seats open for 2012. These include three composter and four affiliate positions, all of which are for three-year terms. Find submission forms and related information on the USCC website; deadline is September 1, 2011. Please forward questions and submissions to Ron Alexander, Nominations & Awards Committee Chair, at 919-367-8350; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Responsible Woody Biomass Management
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) recently launched a pilot project to help U.S. bioenergy companies support responsible forest management through their procurement of woody biomass. According to a statement released by the two organizations, the partnership recognizes that the bioenergy industry provides new market opportunities for forest landowners and managers but that appropriate steps need to be in place for procurement of forest fiber in order to maintain forest health.
The project is intended to assist facilities that produce energy or transportation fuels from woody biomass to establish a responsible procurement system. SFI’s Fiber Sourcing requirements will be applied for such sourcing, with analysis conducted to identify gaps between existing procurement and SFI’s program. “Woody biomass offers an excellent incentive so landowners can maintain their forests as forests – as long the forest is managed responsibly,” said Glenn Prickett, Chief External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy. “TNC is interested in this project with SFI to explore how the SFI’s unique Fiber Sourcing requirements can address the need of responsible procurement of woody biomass for bioenergy facilities while managing for important forest values.”
ORBIT 2012 Call For Papers
The Cemagref Research Unit and the European Compost Network have issued a Call for Papers for its 8th International Conference, ORBIT 2012, June 12-15, 2012 in Rennes France. Abstracts (oral or poster) are invited from authors all over the world and should be submitted via the Conference website by September 30, 2011. The main conference topics are: European Union policies and strategies for sustainable organic resources and waste management; Climate change, waste management assessment and decision tools; Collection and local management of organic wastes; Energy recovery; Biological treatments (composting and anaerobic digestion); Mechanical biological treatment; Organic fertilizers and soil improvers for agricultural and horticultural uses (including biosolids, manures, composts and digestates); and Natural resources in the global context. To learn more, visit www.orbit2012.fr.
Biomass Accountability Project Questions Renewable Status
Eliminating federal taxpayer subsidies for commercial biomass electricity can result in more than $10 billion saved over the next three years and a minimum of $3 billion to $5 billion every year thereafter, according to a report released by a consortium of groups including the Biomass Accountability Project, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the Energy Justice Network. Consortium members urged U.S. senators to follow suit with their recent vote to end taxpayer subsidies for corn-based ethanol biofuels by taking similar action to stop subsidies for biomass combustion.
The groups also don’t want commercial biomass electricity to qualify as renewable energy. “Congress must keep biomass combustion power out of any future Clean Energy Standard,” said attorney Margaret Sheehan of the Biomass Accountability project. Sheehan led a successful rally in Massachusetts to have that state reconsider biomass electricity as eligible for renewable energy tax credits. She has been criticized because her family’s foundation is heavily invested in fossil fuel and mining industries.
View the full document, “Biomass Electricity: Clean Energy Subsidies for a Dirty Industry,” at www.nobiomass burning.org.
Ecological Treatment Of Milkhouse Waste
Dairy farms produce wastewater that includes wash water from cleaning milking equipment and the milk house, but residual milk, protein, water and cleaners do not effectively percolate in the ordinary sewage systems to which they are typically sent. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) along with USDA engineers and scientists – with funding and support from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and other state agencies – are testing cost-efficient, vegetative treatment designs that address biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and pollutants of concern (chlorine by-product, phosphorus and nitrogen) generated by smaller dairy operators. Daryl Forgione, project manager for DCR, says a vegetated treatment area (VTA) “could benefit farmers across the country” as tests results so far show it is effective for treating BOD and suspended solids. In its third year, the pilot program is currently testing a VTA with a bark-mound surface at Great Brook Farm in Carlisle, Massachusetts, that further addresses low levels of nitrogen in milk house wastewater.
Wastewater Treatment Plant To Run On LFG
The 120 million gallons per day (mgd) Jones Island Wastewater Treatment Facility in Milwaukee, which serves 28 communities in the region, is expected to flip the switch to “methane power” by June 1, 2012. Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), the utility that owns the Jones Island plant, is investing $104 million in the methane-piping project that will transport conditioned landfill gas (LFG) from the active Emerald Park Landfill 19 miles away in Muskego, Wisconsin. Construction of the pipeline, roughly a third of the project cost, is on schedule to begin in September. MMSD will acquire and modify an additional existing pipeline as part of the project for $10 million and will also procure three turbines to convert the piped landfill gas into electricity to power plant operations. The LFG is currently flared at 2,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm). Veolia Environmental, which owns the landfill, invested $5 million in the project to remove hydrogen sulfide and siloxanes from the methane before it is sent in the pipeline. Veolia is anticipating a 5 to 10 year payback based on the first 20 years of methane output, and set the variable purchase price of the gas for MMSD at 48 percent of the NYMEX price for natural gas, with a cap of $22/MMbtu and a floor of $4.40/MMbtu.
There is enough methane in Emerald Park to offer Jones Island 40 years of electrical power. The MMSD uses 1.6 MJ (megajoules) of natural gas per year, an 11 MW/day average, at Jones Island. Switching to methane will reduce fuel costs by a projected 48 percent. The project is expected to save MMSD “tens of millions,” according to Bill Graffin, MMSD public information manager. “The savings really depend on the cost of natural gas, which is extremely difficult to predict. The higher natural gas prices climb, the more our customers save.” The project also will significantly reduce Milwaukee’s greenhouse gas emissions.