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Venting at wastewater treatment plant causes odor

The Waste Water Treatment Facility is located southeast of Jamestown near the Baler Facility. The failure of a vent to close and with the flare system are causing gases to be released from the facility into the air. John M. Steiner / The Sun

An odd set of circumstances at the Jamestown wastewater treatment plant is causing the release of odorous gases that east winds can carry from the treatment plant at the Bloom Exit of Interstate 94 as far as Jamestown, according to Ron Olson, wastewater treatment plant supervisor.

The problems are also delaying a feasibility study to determine if the waste gases produced at the treatment plant can be processed into natural gas and injected into the natural gas pipeline as a renewable source of energy.

Currently, when everything is working correctly, waste gases are flared at the treatment plant. This burns off the odorous gases reducing any noticeable scent.

The flare was turned off in February when Cavendish Farms, the potato processing plant east of Jamestown, shut down for scheduled maintenance. Wastewater from Cavendish Farms produces the bulk of the gases the treatment plant would normally flare.

"When Cavendish shut down, we had no material to flare," Olson said. "We went to emergency vents."

Now that Cavendish is back at work and sending wastewater to the treatment plant, it would be time to restart the flare, Olson said. However, the emergency vent is now stuck about a quarter of the way open and the flare mechanism requires repairs.

A technician is scheduled to make the repairs to the flare mechanism in the next week. City crews are working at clearing ice and debris from the emergency vent, although warm weather in early April may be the best solution to getting the vent completely closed, Olson said.

"Hopefully we get the emergency vent closed, then go back to flaring," he said.

Once the vent is closed and the waste gas is being flared, staff of New Phase Energy will conduct a preliminary feasibility study for converting the gases produced at the wastewater treatment plant into natural gas that could be injected into a nearby pipeline.

The Jamestown City Council approved the preliminary study at its Jan. 7 meeting with a cost not to exceed $22,000.

If the city of Jamestown decides to proceed with the project, an additional study with an estimated $40,000 cost would be necessary to develop specifications. Because the gas produced from wastewater processing is considered renewable, the city of Jamestown would be eligible for "green credits," increasing the value of the natural gas produced, said Joe Regnery, chief commercial officer for New Phase Energy, during the Jan. 7 City Council meeting.

Preliminary estimates for a complete waste gas processing plant are between $5.5 million and $6 million, he said.

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