House votes in favor of review to determine biosolids benefits

The state House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday that will require the government to take another look at biosolids application, state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven, said in a release.

The proposal directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to review regulations regarding the beneficial use of biosolids, or municipal sewage sludge.

The legislation comes in the wake of a civil lawsuit filed in April against Spicer Family Farms and the Bellefonte borough aimed at preventing the proposed spreading of Class B biosolids on farmland in Benner Township. Biosolids application has received major pushback from township residents.

Biosolids are the highly regulated, nutrient-rich organic materials from the treatment of sewage sludge, which can be applied to agricultural fields as fertilizer. However, residents are concerned that the less-strict regulations on Class B biosolids, rather than Class A, may allow for a higher risk of source water contamination.

The House resolution requires that a report be made available within one year of adoption. The report must include methods currently used for biosolid use and disposal, costs involved with current methods of use and disposal, methods used to administer and enforce the current use and disposal program and all appropriate alternatives to current use and disposal methods used in Pennsylvania or other states.

“This is a great step in the right direction and I believe will only solidify the need for my legislation, House Bill 738,” Hanna said in a press release.

H.B. 738 aims to prohibit the application of biosolids in a source water protection area under a land reclamation permit for the biosolids application.

“This is important to me and my constituents in both Burnside and Benner townships, so I will continue to fight for additional regulation and enforcement within the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,” Hanna said. “… It is also my duty to uphold the constitution, which states that people have the right to clean air, pure water and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.”

Cate Hansberry: 814-235-3933, @catehans216