Voters will decide biosolids usage issue

County residents will have the opportunity to vote in June on whether or not they want to allow treated human waste to be used as fertilizer in Franklin County.

While they had been used in small quantities in north Alabama for years, biosolids became a major issue in 2007 and 2008 when Texas-based Synagro constructed a biosolid production facility on Crockett Lane near Leighton in rural Colbert County.

The facility treated sewage sludge, including human waste that was brought into Colbert County by rail car through the Port of Florence.

Synagro closed the Colbert County plant last year.

Sen. Roger Bedford introduced bills that will allow Colbert and Franklin County voters to decide by a yes or no vote if they want biosolids used as a fertilizer substitute.

If county voters choose to outlaw the use of biosolids, the issue will be added as an amendment to the state constitution.

Several farmers in the county have been using biosolids, which is comprised of human waste, as a cheaper alternative to fertilizer. The previous and current county commissions looked at ways of regulating or controlling how they were used in the county.

Among the obstacles the commission faced in seeing some resolution to the situation is the Interstate Commerce Clause. It, along with the Interstate Commerce Act, prohibits state and local governments from preventing the transporting of materials into and out of an area.

Bedford’s bill would disallow the use of the materials altogether.

The item will be one of three amendments on the ballot for the June 1 primary.

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