Parisi wants accountability after second digester spill - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Parisi wants accountability after second digester spill


WAUNAKEE (WKOW) -- Dane County Executive Joe Parisi wants the Milwaukee-operator of a community, manure digester in northern Dane County to account for facility safeguards, in the wake of a second spill since November.

"Were there alarms in place? Did they have shut off valves there in case of emergency?" Parisi says. "And if not, why not?"

Officials say the spill Monday involved approximately twenty-thousand gallons of manure, with the spill contained to the site, without impact on water supplies, or run off into the watershed.

Officials say the previous spill involved three-hundred thousand gallons of manure, was not detected for hours, and some of the leaked material flowed off site, and into Six Mile Creek in Waunakee.

In a statement, spokesperson Jim Ditter of owner-operator Clear Horizons LLC said ground shifting and slight pipe movement contributed to a pipe rupture in the first spill. Manure from farm fields travels in pipes to the Waunakee area facility's holding tanks.

"Evaluation of the facility electronic safety controls continues," Ditter states.  He states "...additional monitoring devices will be installed."

"We have the common goal of having an operation that runs smoothly," Parisi tells 27 News.

The $12 million manure digester involved federal and state funds, and has been hailed as a cutting edge approach to reusing the farm waste to produce energy, and reduce phosphorus run-off into area lakes.

Parisi notes the facility has processed eighty-seven million gallons of manure, and spared the watershed of a higher percentage of the algae-producing phosphorus. He says it's vital the project perform well to help further green technology development.

A second, community manure digester operates in the Town of Springfield. In a letter to Clear Horizons LLC's chief executive officer, Parisi suggests he consider outsourcing the operation of the manure digester to the same vendor running the Springfield facility, or another vendor with a good track record.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Robert Manwell tells 27 News digester operators appropriately called a spill hotline in connection to the Monday incident.

Manwell says both incidents remain under review, and while fines or other sanctions are possible, he stresses state involvement remains in the review stage only.

Manwell says state permits governing the facility's operation do not specify the type of safeguards to be deployed.


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