Portions of Parker County have smelled better days.But soon, residents who have been affected by the odor caused by Renda Environmental’s land application of human biosolids as fertilizer, will get to make their voices heard.The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) officials have informed Parker County Judge Mark Riley that they will hold a stakeholders meeting at 7 p.m. at the Springtown Senior Center on Tues., Aug. 13, as part of four planned meetings statewide.Riley attended the commission’s June meeting to discuss the matter. He spoke on an agenda item regarding a petition by an Ellis County resident who is dealing with the same situation that affected Parker County residents in the Springtown area.Riley said the Ellis County petition would not solve the problem Parker County residents were facing and asked for the TCEQ to open up their rule-making process to a statewide level that would include the problems that Parker and Wise County residents were dealing with.“I encourage our residents to participate and have a voice in the rule-making process,” he said. “We appreciate the TCEQ holding this meeting in Parker County to give our residents who are negatively affected by Renda Environmental’s actions an opportunity to express their thoughts. I have said it before and I will say it again; rural Texas is becoming a dumping ground and that is just not right.” Precinct 1 Commissioner George Conley said he hopes the meeting will be a positive step toward finding a solution that will give relief to those Springtown-area residents who were affected by the application of the “retched-smelling” product.“We just want the issue solved so that our residents can get back to enjoying life as normal without the horrible odors and all the flies,” Conley said.Comments will likely be limited to no more than three minutes so residents planning to speak are encouraged to keep their comments clear and concise. Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, is pushing to end the dumping of human waste trucked in from Fort Worth and into portions of both Wise and Parker counties."In May, my office began to receive calls from residents regarding a contractor for the City of Fort Worth dumping human waste near their homes that gave off a horrible odor," King said in a release. "I called Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who immediately ordered the contractor to cease dumping until our concerns were addressed. I also contacted the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) requesting an investigation. TCEQ has since issued an enforcement letter to the contractor directing that dumping operations cease pending further investigation."He said on June 18, TCEQ held a formal hearing in Austin on the matter."I believe the regulations on waste dumping are clearly insufficient and I requested that TCEQ strengthen these rules,” he said. “At the formal hearing, the Commission decided to initiate a process to change those regulations and the first of several meetings in this process will take place on Aug. 13, in Springtown. I encourage citizens to attend and give input to the Commission.""Parker and Wise County officials have also been very engaged in responding to this problem. We are working together to see this process through to a positive outcome," King concluded.The TCEQ’s viewWhen asked if the citizens in the area had a legitimate health concern as well as an issue with property values, Terry Clawson, Manager for Media Relations for the TCEQ, broke it down in a more clinical fashion.“Title 40, Part 503 of the Code of Federal Regulations establishes the standards for processing and handling domestic sewage sludge,” Clawson said. “These regulations include pathogen and vector attraction reduction requirements for the protection of public health. State regulations of Texas Administrative Code Chapter 312 establishes requirements consistent with the federal regulations and includes additional best management practices for the state of Texas.”He said their records indicate that Renda land applied Class A sewage sludge on 73,000 acres in Texas during 2012.Renda Environmental, Inc.Authorities at Renda Environmental said the company has been “land applying” the materials in question for more than 20 years.“We’ve been to Parker County many times,” said Biosolid Manager Ben Davis. “There wasn’t anything different about the material, it was just more odorous than normal.”Davis said the product is a “great product” and that he has used it himself .“I grew up on a farm and we applied this on my family’s land,” he said. “ I wouldn’t put this out if I thought there was anything hazardous about it.”He said that nothing had changed with how it had been done in the past on previous applications.“We have protocols - a standard operating procedure we follow for all of our processes,” Davis said. “The city sends us the material in liquid form, we take the water out of it, and on top of the sterilization process they import another product for further sterilization.”He said for the time being, the company has no plans to return to Parker County.Portions of this story contain information from the Weatherford Star-Telegram archives.
Lance Winter, 817-594-9902, Ext. 102 Twitter: @Lancewinter