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No reason for TCEQ to deny waste site, attorney says
NIXON -- “The criticisms are unfounded,” said Randall Wilburn, attorney for Gordon Swenson, about the controversy that has arisen over his client’s plans to use treated human waste to fertilize a hay field.
Swenson, a local business owner who lives near Austin, applied in late 2012 to register approximately 298.3 acres of property straddling the Wilson-Gonzales county border, onto which he would apply domestic septage at agronomic rates. This has drawn sharp criticism from residents of both counties and it led to a packed public hearing in Floresville March 28, in which many made their opinions part of the official record. (See “Citizens raise stink over Nixon waste dump,” April 3.)
According to engineer Donald Rauschuber’s presentation March 28, septage is the irreducible solids left in a septic tank after treatment. These solids are periodically pumped from the tank to prevent them from settling and eventually filling the tank, because residential septic tanks are designed to retain sludge for 1 to 3 years. That which is removed from the tank is treated with lime and used as fertilizer for non-food crops.
Wilburn, during an April 9 telephone interview with the Wilson County News, spoke on Swenson’s behalf. He alleges that “absentee landowners” spreading false information are leading the protest against the plan. He sees no reason why the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) would deny issuance of Swenson’s registration, as the proposal meets all state requirements and is based on sound science.
“[The TCEQ] can’t deny it,” Wilburn said. “By law, they have to issue [the registration]. As long as we answer all of the questions, and provide all of the required information, they are required by law to issue the registration. They cannot arbitrarily deny it.”
Ultimately, he said, it will be up to Swenson whether or not the plan will proceed.
TCEQ spokesman Terry Clawson said April 16 that Swenson’s application currently is undergoing technical review by the commission’s staff.
“The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is currently reviewing and evaluating all written and oral comments received,” he said. “Agency staff will prepare a written response to comment and mail it to all persons on the mailing list.”
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