Fort Meade struggles with sludge plant odor

Fort Meade, Florida -- It's a smelly situation that just got stinkier, according to the city of Fort Meade.

Last week, the city manager sent a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection asking for help saying the Biosolids Distribution Services sludge plant, at 1491 N.W. 14th St., was stinking businesses and people out of town.

But the DEP claims the company is working to fix the problem and there is not much more it can do.

Robert Streeter says this may be his dream home.

"It's just that bad," says Robert Streeter, who lives across the street from the plant. "It's not getting better."

He claims this biosolids treatment facility forces him to stay inside his house.

"When it's bad you come in the house. It'll take your breath away," says Streeter.

Fort Meade Operations Director Robert Ward says he gets complaints about the smell daily.

"If we don't do anything about it, we'll have no city eventually," says Ward.

That's what City Manager Fred Hilliard is afraid of.

"When I got that response I was taken aback," says Hilliard.

He claims after writing the letter asking for help from the DEP, he was shocked by their response.

"DEP did the inspection and gave no real time line to Biosolids to clean up. Biosolids responded they'd do some things and so basically it's going to be up to the city and we are in the process of hiring an expert with what we need to do," says Hilliard.

But, could the stench be enough to close Fort Meade?

"We're looking at all of are options," says Hilliard.

10 News asked Hilliard how long it will be until the company can fix the odor problem and officials said they are working on it as quick as they can.

MORE:The company's letter to DEP on upgrades

This is the letter from the DEP to the city of Fort Meade:

Dear Mr. Hilliard,

I received your letter regarding the Bioset facility in Fort Meade (dated August 12, 2014 and received August 14, 2014). To clarify the Department's role in the situation regarding this facility, I offer the following. We have received complaints regarding this facility only in the recent past. The facility began operations in November 2013. There were no complaints to the Department until March 10, 2014, when we received one complaint. The Department conducted a site visit in response to this complaint and there was no odor at the time of our visit. Beginning in June 2014, we had more complaints and the Department conducted a site inspection on July 14, 2014 and toured the Bioset facility with operator Mr. Tim Lokken. Once again, the Department did not find objectionable odors during the inspection. It appeared the process was working as designed. The Bioset process was granted the Class AA Equivalency by the federal Environmental Protection Agency Biosolids Committee (information enclosed). During the inspection it was observed that all of the treatment controls and demonstrations appeared to be met (treatment time, temperature, pH and pathogen analysis).

Subsequently, the Department received a list of complaints provided by the City of Fort Meade. On August 1, 2014, the Department conducted a second site inspection. This time, our inspectors found objectionable odors. Staff met with City of Fort Meade staff August 1, 2014 to discuss our complaint investigation and plans to help resolve the odor nuisance. On August 6, 2014, the Department sent a Compliance Assistance Letter to Biosolids Distribution Services, LLC. The facility responded on August 11, 2014, outlining various measures to address the Department concerns including working with engineers to explore odor control options. The facility has indicated that that they are committed to addressing the odor problem. The Department has a meeting scheduled with Biosolids Distribution Services, LLC, Tuesday, August 19, 2014 to discuss their progress in resolving the odor issue.

The Department will be reaching out to municipalities whose waste is processed by Bioset to determine if anything has changed with regard to the biosolids they are sending to the facility, which might be contributing to the odor issues, also evaluating whether this is more of a seasonal issue associated with heat and humidity that will need to be addressed as such, or if process improvements/changes and capital improvements need to be made to resolve the problem.

Meanwhile, the City of Fort Meade may also find relief through its own resources such as code enforcement, zoning, or other local ordinances.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me directly (813) 470-5701.


Mary Yeargan, PG

Director of District Management

Southwest District

Florida Department of Environmental Protection


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