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      That smell on the Thruway is from New Jersey

      The New York State Thruway Authority has confirmed to CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that construction crews are using a compost made of human sewage to fertilize grass seed along the corridor between Syracuse and Weedsport.

      Moreover, much of the material has been imported from Burlington County, New Jersey.

      Last Thursday, Kenyon raised the possibility that the "Class A" compost could contain processed human waste, although a Thruway spokesman at the time said it contained "cow manure."

      When asked for the specific suppliers of the compost, spokesman R.W. Groneman later revealed three sources of the material, all of which mix treated sludge from sewage treatment plants with other compost ingredients.

      The three supplies are the Burlington County New Jersey Compost Facility, the Delaware County Co-Composting Plant in Delhi, NY, and the Albany-Schenectady Biosolids facility in Schenectady , NY.

      The Burlington County Compost Facility's website says the plant "receives biosolids from 14 wastewater treatment plants." It says the facility "processes biosolids, shredded wood and other organic wastes to produce an exceptional-quality compost."

      Several residents in the area of Warners Road in Onondaga County have complained of the odor of sewage where crews are spreading the compost. Groneman said any odor from the compost would dissipate over time. One landowner, Doug Henry, is afraid that the compost could pollute runoff from the Thruway and contaminate his property.

      In an email, Groneman stated, "There was a cost savings by mixing the compost material with soil from the construction site. An alternative would be to import costly top soil to promote the re-growth of grass along the 15-mile-long corridor." Groneman added, "This compost material is similar to products found in many lawn and garden stores."

      The Thruway Authority says the compost was purchased by Cold Spring Construction, which is the main contractor for the construction project between exits 39 to 40. The company made two purchases of compost for a total of 28,000 cubic yards at a total cost of $529,750. Cold Spring Construction has deferred comment to the Thruway Authority.

      The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a permit for the use of the "Class A" compost. The DEC's website states that, "The regulations designed to ensure proper management of facilities that compost organic material in a safe, nuisance-free manner, and to protect against potential environmental and human health risks associated with metals and disease bearing micro-organisms known as pathogens."

      In a written response to questions submitted by CNY Central, the DEC replied that "The use of Class A compost is an aceptable use for general construction rehabilitation work without additional approvals from DEC." In response to a question whether the DEC knew of the material from New Jersey, the DEC stated, "The DEC reviewed information on the material coming from the Burlington NJ facility before allowing it to be used in New York.... Finally the DEC is investigating this issue and we will continue to evaluate the information we receive as we move forward."

      Doug Henry is currently in a dispute with the Thruway Authority over flooding which he says was caused by the construction project. The Thruway Authority says it investigated Henry's claim and determined the design of the project did not adversely affect the drainage on his property.