B.C.’s CRD releases biosolids plan that highlights thermal processing 

Residuals treatmen
The CRD is responsible for the management of Class A biosolids produced from its residuals treatment facility (RTF). Photo Credit: CRD Courtesy of Twitter

British Columbia’s Capital Regional District (CRD) Board has approved its final Long-term Biosolids Management Strategy for submission to the province, including a three-tiered approach that prioritizes advanced thermal processing.  

Approved on June 12, the biosolids strategy includes the development of a demonstration facility for advanced thermal processing at Hartland Landfill, where biosolids could be converted into a synthetic methane gas (syngas) and “biochar”. But the facility’s pilot project could take years to get underway, and even longer as it moves through provincial approvals. 

“By embracing advanced thermal processing, we’re not only meeting regulatory requirements but also pioneering a new era of responsible resource management in the region,” announced CRD Director Barbara Desjardins, chair of the CRD’s Environmental Services Committee, in a statement. 

The CRD was required to submit is biosolids strategy to the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy by June 18 as a requirement of its commitments under the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan. The CRD is responsible for the management of Class A biosolids produced from its residuals treatment facility (RTF). 

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Some 10 tonnes of biosolids each day stacked up at the RTF when the Lafarge cement plant in Richmond was offline and unable to accept the material. The cement plant has struggled with mechanical difficulties and two fires.  

The majority owner of the RTF, Synagro Technologies, made headlines earlier this year when a group of Texas farmers filed a lawsuit against the company. The farmers claim fertilizer made from biosolids is making them sick and killing their animals. The civil lawsuit claims that the biosolids-based fertilizer used on Texas farms tested positive for 27 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS.  

The CRD has noted that biosolids produced in the capital region have not been used for agricultural purposes. It further notes that its biosolids were tested for 38 of the most common PFAS compounds, and detected 14 types of PFAS in the parts-per-billion range. The rest were not found.   

While advanced thermal options are being implemented, or when the processing facility is unavailable, the region says it could consider continued alternative fuel combustion in its cement manufacturing facility in Richmond, B.C. Industrial land reclamation, forest fertilization, or partnerships with established biosolids programs are also potential options.  

The CRD says it will maintain the option of biosolids application in engineered cover systems and biocell at Hartland Landfill to act as an emergency support option. 

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