Tyrone sludge may head north | News, Sports, Jobs - Altoona Mirror

2021-12-23 06:28:52 By : Ms. Aliy Zhao

Tyrone Borough recently signed a tentative agreement to send its sewer sludge to the University Area Joint Authority in State College, and not to the Altoona Water Authority’s planned new digester, largely because Altoona needed a wetter product than Tyrone is set up to deliver.

Sludge from Tyrone’s belt filter press is about 15% solid, but Altoona wanted sludge between 3 and 6%, Tyrone Borough Manager Ardean Latchford said.

Rewetting the sludge to bring it to that level would not only have required an equipment investment at the Tyrone sewer plant, but would have added to the transport costs, Latchford said.

“You would be hauling more water,” he said.

So, after borough officials learned from their solicitor that a prior letter of intent with Altoona was non-binding, they contacted UAJA, which currently composts its sludge.

“We were going to talk to them about the possibility of composting,” Latchford said.

It turned out that UAJA is also planning a digester-dryer that should be operational in early 2023, and offered a better deal than Altoona, Latchford said.

According to a tentative agreement with UAJA, Tyrone could pay a one-time capital contribution, then offload its sludge as currently produced for $25 a ton, Latchford said.

Alternatively, Tyrone could avoid the capital contribution and offload the sludge at $36, Latchford said.

The borough plans to shop for haulers to take the sludge to State College at approximately $25 a ton, Latchford said.

Thus, the total cost to the borough for disposal would be $50 or $61 per ton — depending on whether it makes the capital contribution, he said.

That is not only cheaper than it would be to use Altoona, but avoids the expense of the plant alterations, he said.

The borough is currently paying $90 a ton to dump the sludge in a landfill — twice as much as last year, Latchford said.

The Tyrone sludge would go directly to the dryer, bypassing the digester, according to UAJA Executive Director Cory Miller.

The loss of Tyrone as a potential customer for Altoona’s digester means that agents for Energy Systems Group, which is building the facility at the Westerly Sewer Treatment Plant, will need to redouble their efforts to ensure a sufficient inflow of waste for when the operation goes online in the spring, said Todd Musser, the AWA’s director of sewer treatment operations.

“They’re looking,” Musser said at a meeting last week. “They’re still very confident.”

ESG contracted to build the digester at the Westerly Sewer Treatment Plant under an energy-conservation program of the Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Fund, and the company must guarantee the authority will at least earn enough with the digester to cover the 20-year debt service on the $35 million project.

“(Securing sufficient material) is kind of their problem,” Musser told the board. “(But) they’re all over it.”

Not having Tyrone, whose sludge output is large due to waste from the paper mill in the borough, will actually give the Altoona operation more room for high-strength food waste, which is the ideal fuel for the digester, Musser said.

While Tyrone, which produces 246 tons of sludge a week, may no longer be in play, another, closer, municipal customer is — Logan Township, Musser said.

The volume of sludge from the township’s sewer plant in Pinecroft is “not insignificant,” Musser said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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