Bellefonte Borough Council hears further concerns on spreading biosolids

The Bellefonte Borough Council heard concerns Monday about practices that raise fears of tainted groundwater.

Frank Swancer, of Benner Township, addressed the council with worries about biosolids contaminating water in his area, particularly near Spicer Family Farms where the biosolids are to be spread.

Biosolids are organic matter recycled from sewage and used to fertilize land.

“We as residents are concerned about contamination to the aquifer,” Swancer said. “I think you have a responsibility to anyone who’s looking to have clean water … it’s a very high concern in our community.”

Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said that two years ago, Shaffer Farms was permitted to spread biosolids without contention.

“We have been spreading biosolids for over 25 years and never had a problem,” Stewart said. “The program is regulated by the ( Department of Environmental Protection). We meet or exceed regulations that are out there.”

The borough received approval to spread the biosolids in Benner Township from the state DEP on Feb. 29. Residents had until March 29 to appeal the DEP’s permit.

However, Swancer said he felt the people of his community did not get the chance to express their concerns to the DEP, saying their appeals were returned.

“I think it was an unfair process,” Swancer said. “If it’s not detrimental to the community, they should prove it and put away our fears.”

Stewart suggested that Swancer think of alternatives for where biosolids should be spread and present them to the DEP.

“The DEP controls what goes on. The water authority does not,” said Joe Beigle, chairman of the water and sanitation committee. “It’s not in our hands at all.”

Beigle suggested preparing a presentation for the next Borough Council meeting specifically to address the issues confronting constituents.

“It’s a way to address our citizens,” Beigle said. “I want to let our engineer explain the process and let people have their comments.”

The council also passed a resolution to update several traffic signals.

Stewart said the state Department of Transportation is upgrading several traffic lights as part of its corridor improvement project.

Stewart said lights at the intersections of Lamb and Water streets; Water and High streets; and High and Spring streets would see improvements.

“They will have larger lights and new controller systems to help lights work more effectively,” Stewart said. “Especially on High Street where they need to stay synchronized and work together.”

The new traffic light structures will also have an ornamental style, fitting Bellefonte’s historic nature.

“It will be a very nice project for Bellefonte,” Stewart said.

Cate Hansberry: 814-235-3933, @CateHans216