Biosolids amendment confusing to some

A proposed amendment listed on the upcoming June 1 primary ballot could be a little confusing for some voters.

The wording of a proposed amendment that allows voters to decide whether or not human biosolids can be used as a substitute fertilizer in Franklin County has some residents concerned.

The proposed amendment reads as follows:

“Relating to Franklin County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that treated human sewage biosolids may not be applied to land as a fertilizer or soil amendment.”

Voters will simply mark yes or no on the ballot.

What has some concerned is the language used in the amendment.

State Sen. Roger Bedford sponsored legislation that made it possible for voters in Franklin and Colbert counties to vote on the issue.

The wording on the ballot seems a little confusing to some, however.

A “yes” vote means that you do not want biosolids to be used on county soil. A “no” vote means that you do want biosolids to be allowed.

“This has been an important issue for county residents for a couple of years and we just want to make sure that everyone is clear about the wording on the amendment before they vote,” Franklin County Probate Judge Barry Moore said.

“The wording used by the state is a little confusing, so I want everyone to know what it means so they can accurately cast their vote on June 1.”

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.

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