Sewage plant turns muck into moolah
PLANT REMOVES PHOSPHORUS, PRODUCES COMMERCIAL FERTILIZER
A sewage plant in the tiny city of Durham was already honored as the nation’s best-operated and maintained wastewater treatment plant, by the Environmental Protection Agency back in 2005.
Now the Washington County plant is the first in the world to use a cutting-edge technology that recovers phosphorus from wastewater and recycles it into sellable fertilizer.
“You now have indispensably the best-operated and the best-functioning sewage treatment plant in North America,” said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent environmental lawyer who attended the facility’s June 10 unveiling.
Wastewater treatment companies struggle to remove phosphorus before releasing treated sewage into waterways, because it fosters algae blooms that cut oxygen levels and harm aquatic life. Phosphorus from sewage sludge is often incinerated or dumped in landfills.
With the new $2.5 million Pearl recovery facility in Durham, a city sandwiched between Tigard and Tualatin, the phosphorus will be turned into a slow-release pellet fertilizer sold to gardeners and nurseries around the country. It’s the first fullscale commercial operation in the world to use technology developed by Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies Inc. of Vancouver, B.C.