What's that smell along the Thruway?

Compost along the Thruway

If you think the construction project along the New York State Thruway stinks, it's not your imagination.

CNY Central has learned that crews putting the finishing touches to a 15 mile construction project between Syracuse and Weedsport, are spreading what some may consider a controversial type of fertilizer for grass seed along the roadside.

In a statement issued late Thursday afternoon, Thruway Authority Spokesman, R.W. Groneman, confirms that "Class A compost is being mixed with soil on site and then spread over Thruway right-of-way throughout the entire 15-mile corridor that was recently reconstructed between Interchange 39 and 40." The statement continued, "The compost is being brought in from DEC approved facilities in New York State and an approved facility in New Jersey."

In a phone conversation earlier in the day, Groneman said the material contained "cow manure", but later would only refer to it as "Class A compost."

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Class A compost could include plant material, animal waste and "treated sewage sludge" from municipal sewage plants which process human waste.

According to Diane Carlton, a spokesperson for Region 7 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Thruway Authority has a permit to spread the material.

Class A compost has come under criticism because it could involve processed human waste.

According to Carlton, "class A compost, or any compost for that matter is not considered a solid waste. It's a product. If properly composted, all pathogens will be killed; it will have a nutritional value to soil, and have little or no odor."

The DEC's website states: "The regultions are designed to ensure proper management of facilitites 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-organisims known as pathogens."

The DEC states that guidance documents have been developed for "preparing sludge," Class A and Class B compost, and specifically references a document written by the EPA titled, "Control of Pathogens and Vector Attraction in Sewage Sludge."

According to the DECâ??s list of the 58 permitted composting facilities in New York State, 26 facilities compost biosolids. There are biosolid composting facilities in Oneida County (Waterville), Madison County (Cazenovia), Cayuga County (Weedsport), Delaware County (Delhi), Schenectady County (Schenectady) Chenango County (Greene), Wayne County (Sodus and Ontario), and Broome County (Binghamton and Endicott).

Kenyon was alerted to the situation by Doug Henry, a businessman who claims his property along the Thruway on Warners Road in the Town of Van Buren, has been flooded because of faulty engineering during the construction project. Henry pointed out that the material spread along the roadside has a strong odor of sewage. He told Kenyon, "as far as a lack of erosion control or any protection for my property, I'm being contaminated by that."

CNY Central has submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the New York Thruway Authority for a list of facilities supplying the compost.

Fact sheet on biosolids (.pdf)

Licensed composting facilities in NYS (.pdf)

Control of Pathogens and Vector Attraction in Sewage Sludge