CleanBay Renewables asks Sussex to permit construction of facility
GEORGETOWN, Del. (Feb. 6, 2018) — Sussex County’s Planning and Zoning Commission was asked, for a second time, on Jan. 25, to consider a conditional-use application for construction of a facility to convert poultry litter/manure by anerobic digestion into methane gas for electricity.
Last summer, CleanBay Renewables LLC proposed building two such facilities at the former site of a harness race track on Route 9 east of Georgetown.
In July, the commissioners recommended denying those applications, citing traffic concerns and impact on residential properties as well as Sussex Academy, the CHEER Community Center and Sports at the Beach, all located nearby.
Representatives of CleanBay requested a similar conditional use of land in another AR-1 (Agricultural Residential) District, this time a parcel of a little more than 16 acres located at the intersection of Route 113 and Breasure Road between Georgetown and Millsboro.
The site is currently in agricultural use and contains a “derelict, unoccupied house” which would be torn down. To the west of the site is Melvin Joseph Sand & Gravel which also uses Breasure Road for access to Route 113.
Directly across the highway is the proposed site of a solar array farm, containing 70 acres. In a separate application presented the same evening, Spangler Strategic Advisers LLC requested a conditional use for the solar array farm. The commission deferred a decision on that request later in the evening.
The proposed process of producing methane was unchanged. As described by Tom Spangler, principal and managing director of CleanBay, poultry litter/manure would be provided by contract with existing litter brokers servicing farms within a 50 mile radius. Twelve truckloads per day would be hauled in between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., six days a week. Each tractor trailer has a maximum capacity of 23 tons, making daily deliveries total about 250 tons, or about 75,000 tons per year, although Spangler did not provide those totals.
The litter would be off-loaded from the “walking floor trailers” onto a conveyor belt which would empty into a system of hoppers connected to 100,000 gallon mix tanks. Unloading would take about 15 minutes, and after that time, the litter would be contained in a closed loop system.
In addition to litter, the process would accept DAF (Dissolved Air Floatation) waste, which was not described for the audience, and hatchery waste.
Water would be added to the litter, which is 27 percent moisture, to bring it to 95 percent moisture. The mixture would be piped to primary digesters where the temperature would be elevated to 130 degrees to “kickstart” the bacteria to begin the breakdown.
The mixture remains in those tanks for five to 10 days before being piped into one of four 3 million gallon tanks where the methane gas is created over a 14 to 20-day period. The methane was described as “wet,” presenting an “almost nonexistent” chance of fire or explosion until scrubbed, at which point it would be entering a generator to provide electricity to Delaware Electric Cooperative.
The company already has a contract with DEC, which sent a letter to the commission saying it would be good to use litter in this way.
The residual material would have phosphorous extracted and formed into crystals with a nutrient composition of 5-20-0. A partner has agreed to take 20 tons per day to be sold to root croppers in the Midwest who use it in production of beets and potatoes.
The final by-product was described by Dr. Kristi Shaw, a doctor of environmental science and Maryland-certified nutrient management consultant, as “a pathogen-free” soil amendment which is better than poultry manure.
Five truckloads of soil amendment would leave the plant daily, along with one truckload of phosphorous crystals. The other six trucks would leave empty.
A plastic bag containing the soil amendment was held up as a sample, and commissioners asked to examine it. Two commissioners pronounced the odor unoffensive.
While objection to the odors that might escape from the facility was a given — one person who spoke against the project said, “Those of us who live in Sussex County are very familiar with the smell when manure is applied” —noise and water pollution were also concerns. Nearby residents also expressed concerns of groundwater pollution that might affect their wells.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will monitor air, soil and water, said CleanBay’s attorney, Dennis Schrader. Each of those requires a separate permit.
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns was the impact on traffic. One resident said he has great difficulty getting out onto Route 113 with his car, and wondered how tractor trailers would be able to make the turn.
There will not be direct entrance or exit from the property onto Route 113, according to a decision from Delaware Department of Transportation. Two entrances will be allowed from Breasure Road.
One woman, who had lived on a farm close by for 65 years, predicted property values would go down. “If (the facility) was not good enough for Route 9 in Georgetown, why is it acceptable in our community? This is beautiful acreage on the highway. (The proposed facility) is not a sight for tourists.”
Several suggestions were made that the facility be located in the Industrial Park. Attorney Schrader said the lot sizes there were not compatible with the needs, also there is a need to get the electricity generated to the power lines of the electric cooperative. Shaw added that the industrial park was in the vicinity of the earlier proposed Route 9 location, which had been turned down because of objections from neighbors.
At least one comment was that “poultry litter is not an issue on the Shore. Chicken farmers are looking for manure.”
Commission chairman Marty Ross kept the audience under control with a stern reminder that applause was not appropriate and shouted remarks or speaking out of turn would not be tolerated.
After many comments, the commission moved onto the next order of business, inviting those present to stay to see if a decision was reached at the end of the meeting or to call the office the next day.
According to a spokeswoman in the office on Jan. 26, the matter was deferred. “There was so much public comment,” she said, that the matter will be considered in another meeting on Feb. 8. That meeting will be closed to public comment; however, “people can come,” she said.
Ross also reminded the audience that the Sussex County Council will hold another public hearing on the conditional use application on Feb. 20.
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925