By Jack Carley
Piedmont Biofuels will pay the town of Pittsboro an estimated $10,000
after a spill of about 150 gallons of glycerine into water discharged by
the plant damaged treatment facilities and incurred state penalties.
Leif Forer, chief engineer at Piedmont Biofuels, said the company was
working with the town to fix problems caused by the spill and to pay
fines levied against the town.
"If we caused a problem," Forer said, "we'll make good for it, and we'll
figure out how to make it never happen again."
Piedmont Biofuels has since stopped discharging "washwater" — used in
manufacturing biofuel — after it was also found that the washwater
contained levels of organic material too high for the Pittsboro water
treatment facility to process.
Pittsboro allowed Piedmont Biofuels to discharge washwater into
Pittsboro sewers starting in March, Forer said. After the glycerine
spill was found and the source of the organic content was identified in
early June, Piedmont Biofuels stopped discharging the water.
"What we didn't know at the time was that washwater was heavy-duty for
what the plant was used to," said Forer. "What we now know is that the
plant had been struggling but they weren't sure why. No one knew the
washwater had anything to do with it."
Forer said the co-op has built a wastewater pretreatment plant, a
measure that will allow washwater to be cleaned before public treatment.
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