Port board told fees for Ceres wastewater should change

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, April 27, 2014

A new fee structure for tracking substances in wastewater generated by the Tyson Foods plant at Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex is in order to bring down a recent spike in organic pollutants, according to a consultant to the Warren County Port Commission.

The chicken products plant at the Flowers industrial park pays surcharges to the commission based on levels of wastewater quality measured at the 40-acre facility. In March, readings of chemical oxygen reached 11,000 milligrams per liter, which translated to a $78,000 fee, said Sam Hardin, an engineer with Starkville-based Clearwater Consulting. It was a cloudier reading than in January and February, which were closer to 1,000 milligrams per liter, or a fee of $13,000, he said.

Hardin, who theorized the jump could have been caused by an unusually large volume of solids that sat at the bottom of a manhole, told the commission the sampling method needed to be changed to the chemical oxygen demand, or COD, a more precise test than the current, and the per-pound charge should decrease to 5 cents from 10 cents to allow for the added precision. To test for suspended solids, such as grease or other by-products, should be bumped to 15 cents per pound from the current 10 cents.

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“You will have a more reliable calculation using COD,” Hardin said.

Improving the sewage lagoon where industrial wastewater is treated at Ceres is also in order, Hardin said. Cell 1 of the lagoon, which has structural stability issues, should be drained this summer and move all aeration systems the other three storage cells.

A cost estimate would be the next step in any process to improve the sewage lagoon, commission chair Johnny Moss said.

“So we know where our money is set up,” Moss said.

The lagoon’s contract operator is ST Environmental Services. The commission also contracts with Clearwater to advise on all environmental issues at Ceres. Hardin advised the commission it not rule out re-examining its contract with ST, a subsidiary of a global conglomerate, due to “a lack of support” on lagoon maintenance.

Tyson’s permit with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to pretreat its wastewater runs through November.