State College

UAJA awaits full odor report

UAJA is awaiting results on a year-long odor-control study to create a solution for the odor issue.
UAJA is awaiting results on a year-long odor-control study to create a solution for the odor issue. CDT file photo

After coming under fire for unpleasant odors escaping from its facility, the University Area Joint Authority launched a year-long odor-control study to create a solution for these unfortunate smells.

The UAJA recently released an interim report detailing its findings of the authority’s operations as of April. And while permanent solutions likely won’t be seen until sometime next year, changes are being made around the facility to help ease odor concerns.

“We’ve made an awful lot of operational changes to various processes here, and it seems to be making a significant difference,” Executive Director Cory Miller said. “We still have some other things we have to work on, but I think we’re making great progress on those changes before the final report is done.”

The authority is still waiting for the results of an on-site air sampling program aimed to quantify and characterize odor emissions from the facility, Miller said. Odorant testing was conducted by California-based ALS Environmental in August and October 2014. The final sample was taken on April 20, according to the report.

The final sampling report is expected any day now, he said. Even if the sampling report is delayed, it won’t hold up the UAJA’s final report.

According to the report, a chemical scrubber feed system has not been operational due to “habitual maintenance issues.” Miller said a temporary system has been put in place giving the UAJA some success in reducing the odor emanating from the facility.

“We don’t have the actual numbers yet needed to create a permanent design, so we’re dialing it in by trial and error,” he said. “If it works well, it may become the basis for designing the replacement system.”

Air from the composting facility passes through a biofilter with a life expectancy of five years, the report said, adding that the existing filter has also been in operation for about five years.

For the short term, the authority has been renovating the filter, Miller said, adding additional material in order to stretch the life of the filter until the final report can be completed.

The report will likely indicate something substantial will need to be done to the filter, he said, so this temporary fix will get the facility through the next year when construction might happen.

Until then, he said, work has been done within the composting facility to make sure the airflow has been calibrated properly. Airflow throughout the building has also been changed to a more direct path to the biofilter intakes.

The report also indicated that plant-wide modifications have been made, which Miller called “lot of housekeeping.” Doors and windows have been properly sealed and the flow of waste is being monitored more closely with additional adjustments being made.

“We’re doing a lot more operation, which is more time consuming, but it’s what we’ve got to do,” he said.

Miller urged residents to continue to submit odor observations throughout the summer so the authority has more data on which to base airflow models.