Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Kennebec Journal Staff
CLINTON -- A stinky problem that had become a public nuisance is now being fixed at the HerbKomp facility on Route 100, state officials say.
Most of the smelly odors had been created at the composting operation by seafood -- shellfish parts, animal bones and lobster-claw rubber bands -- that had been scattered around and not properly covered, according to inspections by the state Department of Agriculture.
Last month, complaints flooded in from neighbors, as well as town and state officials.
State officials gave HerbKomp's owner, Dwynn Williams, an outline of ways the facility could clean up its act and stop the bad smells.
This past week, those efforts appeared to be working.
"They've been cleaning up quite a bit -- the worst of it," said Mark Hedrich, nutrient management coordinator for the agriculture department. "We're just going to continue monitoring at this point, but we have been on top of it quite aggressively."
HerbKomp's owner, Dwynn Williams, couldn't be reached comment.
The company says on its website that it has developed "the best practice of processing aerobic compost" in Maine in response to increasing demand for quality soil for organic produce.
According to the website, HerbKomp's compost product, called Aerobic Digested Organic Matter, contains ingredients such as horse, cow and chicken manure, hay, clay, leaves, wood shavings, apples and water.
Complaints about odors from the facility came in October from five neighbors, Jeffrey Towne, who is chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and an official with the state Department of Environmental Protection.
In a letter written to Williams on Nov. 1, Hedrich outlined several ways of stanching the stink coming from the facility and said the matter would be referred to the state Attorney General's Office unless the "best practices" started in the next few weeks.
State officials inspected the facility three times in late October, according to Hedrich, and found the "offensive" odors "were resulting from shellfish and offal having been delivered to your site without appropriate amendment to minimize odors."
"Shellfish parts and large animal bones also were observed scattered about the site, as were rubber bands that had arrived at the site on lobster claws," Hedrich wrote.
The conditions were not in line with what the state considers "best management practices" and also violated state laws under the agriculture and nutrient statutes.
After talking it over Williams, state officials made several recommendations, including a review of covered materials and a compost management plan; no more delivering of fish or shellfish until it's handled properly; and removing rubber bands from lobster claws prior to arrival at the facility.
State officials also suggest a long-term goal of establishing a buffer of trees along the property's south side.
Scott Monroe -- 861-9239