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Residents Frustrated By Treated Human Waste Fertilizer - KOAM TV 7

Residents Frustrated By Treated Human Waste Fertilizer

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Biosolid mixture Biosolid mixture
Joplin, MO -

Some Webb City residents are upset they didn't get advance notice of treated human waste being spread near their homes.  This type of fertilizer was spread on a field owned by the City of Joplin.  City officials say using treated waste is not only safe, but common in other cities, as well.

Joplin's director of public works says the City has used "biosolid" fertilizer for many years.  Some residents say a bad smell can last for many days.

Micheal Flemings is used to airplanes traversing over a nearby field, not trucks spreading treated human waste.

"Oh man.  You would get about half way down the street, not even to my house yet, and you would roll your windows up and hold your breath," says Flemings.

Flemings lives near the Joplin Airport.  His family's unofficial end to summer, before Labor Day, was spent trying to figure out the source of a particular odor.  Flemings' son just wanted to get away from the smell.

"Lets go out and do something," says Flemings.  "He's like, 'No, Dad, it stinks.'  It smelled like human waste."

Turns out, what was being spread on the field near Flemings' neighborhood...

"It's from the waste water treatment plant, which is a mixture of human waste and anything that's flushed," says Joplin Director of Public Works David Hertzberg.

Treated waste, or biosolids, are popular with land owners.

"You look at the grass that's not had the biosolids and the nutrients on it, and the grass that has, it's richer, grows faster, and provides a good field for farm land or large property owners who like green in their pasture," says Hertzberg.

This City of Joplin owned field near Flemings' home is leased to a farmer who bails hay here.  Between 400,000 and 500,000 gallons of biosolids were spread on the 45 acre field over the course of about a week.  

Joplin has permits from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to spread biosolids as fertilizer.  City officials say the product is heated and treated to make it safe.

"There's no danger for anybody," says Hertzberg.

But about the smell of biosolids...

Flemings says he would have appreciated some advance notice from the City of Joplin.

"At least something saying, hey, your neighborhood is going to be stinking for a bit," says Flemings.

"We may just go somewhere where we don't get complaints," says Hertzberg.

Workers are no longer applying these biosolids to the land near Joplin's airport.  The Missouri Department of Natural Resources requires livestock be taken off biosolid fertilized land for 30 days after treatment to prevent animals from eating this fertilizer.

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