Town may treat water from spill at ethanol plant

Thursday, December 1, 2011

CLOVERDALE-- During a relatively short meeting for the Cloverdale Utility Board on Tuesday, the main item that concerned the town was the potential discharge into the Cloverdale sewer system from POET.

POET, which produces ethanol from corn, recently had an incident where nearly 20,000 gallons of corn mash was released into its storm water pond. The company then drained the pond into an empty wastewater tank and is now looking for ways to get rid of the nearly 1.5 million gallons of strom water and corn mash.

POET has contacted the Town of Cloverdale to help with the draining of its tank into the city's sewers.

"I see it as a win for both sides," said POET General Manager, Dave Brooks. "In order to err on the precautionary side we drained the storm water pond, we wanted to make sure we got any material out."

The Cloverdale Wastewater Treatment Plant is designed to handle 700,000 gallons a day. Currently, the town treats only 300,000 gallons per day.

The amount of corn mash that is expected to go into the city's sewer lines is also more than the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) the town typically handles.

"We're very environmentally conscious," said Brooks. "If it has high levels of BOD it won't be released."

BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down any organic material that is present.

"Our plant most definitely could handle this discharge," said council president Cathy Tipton.

It is estimated that 40 gallons per minute will be drained for a period of eight hours a day. In total, there will be around 19,200 gallons drained per day. It is estimated to take around 78 days to drain the tank.

"It may not take as much as 78 days but that's what we're estimating," said Tipton.

The town council approved the usage of the sewer lines, but is waiting for a contract to be drawn up before any final decisions are made. The board did determine that POET will be billed monthly for its usage and testing for the BOD levels will be done once a week. It is not certain the time of day in which POET will be allowed to drain.

The draining of this tank is expected to cost POET $77,124.15. This number was determined based on $3 per pound of BOD exceeding Normal Domestic Strength.

The board also discussed the Smyser project again. Building inspector Mark Cassida explained that little work has been done to the 603 S. Main St. property.

Smyser has done several little things such as putting in a new gas line and replacing the window. However, the Smyser had a deadline on the property of Oct. 31, which he failed to meet. The town is already proceeding with legal action with Smyser.

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  • Always appreciate the timely reports of local meetings by B-G. This is why community newspapers will remain relative and vital.

    -- Posted by letspulltogether on Thu, Dec 1, 2011, at 6:00 AM
  • I assume this is being corrected quickly, but I work for POET, and the "1.5 million gallons" is not the amount spilled. It's mainly the water in the holding pond. Less than 2% of that is corn mash.

    -- Posted by mmerritt on Thu, Dec 1, 2011, at 10:20 AM
  • I see it's corrected. Thanks.

    -- Posted by mmerritt on Thu, Dec 1, 2011, at 10:21 AM
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