Greenville residents concerned over 'human waste' fertilizer - FOX Carolina 21

Greenville residents concerned over fertilizer based on human waste

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Residents in southern Greenville County said a noxious odor led them to discover that biosolids containing processed human waste were being used to fertilize a nearby pasture.

Neighbor Jason Randal said the smell was overwhelming up to a mile away.

"It is just raw sewage is what it smells like," Randall said.

Randall said once he learned that biosolids were being used he became worried for his health.

"There are lakes and creeks around my house that I fish in that I was concerned about," said Randall.

FOX Carolina tried contacting the owner of the pasture for comment but did not hear back.

Glen McManus with Renewable Water Resources (REWA) said his company provides biosolids free of charge to farmers across the Upstate because it's less expensive than disposing of the waste in the landfill and better for the environment.

"Biosolids are an organic fertilizer that comes from the water reclamation process," McManus said. "It's essentially a nutrient rich organic fertilizer."

McManus said biosolids are composed of almost everything that goes down the drain. He said non-organic material is filtered out as part of the biosolids process and steps are taken to ensure disease causing bacteria are killed.

"We run a number of tests on it to make sure it is safe," McManus said.

At the REWA facility on Mauldin Road in Greenville, McManus said the process of making biosolids takes about 20 days and includes going through what he described as a mechanical digestive system.

"It produces a very clean organic nutrient rich fertilizer as well as methane gas for electricity and clean water," McManus said.

Not every farmer is keen on biosolids, including Tom Trantham of Happy Cow Creamery in Greenville County. Trantham said he uses cow manure to fertilizer his pastures.

"People are becoming more aware of what ingredients are in products," Trantham said.

However, Clemson Agricultural engineering professor John Chastain said biosolids have been around for years and have only become safer.

"It's more regulated than commercial fertilizer," Chastain said.

Chastain said the main concern with biosolids is run-off into water sources, but he said that is a concern with all kinds of fertilizers.

"It can be very beneficial when it's done the right way," Chastain said. "If it gets in the wrong place it can be a hazard."

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