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New Web site will help track biosolids

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By John Barnhart

Bedford County can't regulate where biosolids are spread, but the county can make it possible for residents to learn where it has been spread.

According to George Nester, the county's director of community development, companies spreading biosolids must identify the sites where they are spreading it, when they apply for permits. These permits, before the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was given oversight, were issued by the state health department. These are public records, but they are also paper records. County staff is in the final stages of making these records easily available to residents via the Internet.

This is the culmination of a directive that the supervisors issued in July, 2007, to create an online inventory of all locations in Bedford County where biosolids have been spread. Once it's up and running, residents will be able to go online and see what sites had been approved for biosolids spreading. It will also tell them if the biosolids were Class A or Class B. Class A biosolids have been processed to a higher degree. Class B biosolids are lime-stabilized and have a strong odor.

When people go to the Web site, they will be able to see a PDF version of the permit that the health department of DEQ issued. This permit shows the source of the biosolids and lists any conditions that the state agency issuing it placed on the spreading. There will also be an option allowing people to see the site on a map.

County staff's work has been to get copies of the permits and make PDFs of them, and locate the sites on the county's geographical information system. Along with providing a service to county residents, this will ultimately save county staff time. Responding to citizen requests for this information takes planning department staff time.

The new inventory will be ready in four to six weeks, according to Nester. It will be available as an option on the county's Web site.

"This is just a tool to enable them [county residents] to see what is going on in their neighborhoods," commented Nester.