Biodigester pauses processing as it works to stop stench

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LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Most of the waste processing at the Lowell biodigester has been suspended as officials work to eliminate a foul odor the plant has been producing for months.

The company that owns the biodigester, Lowell Energy AD, decided last week at a city council meeting to put things on hold and did so officially on Friday.

The company says the problem is the pre-treatment tanks in the wastewater treatment system. A letter from managing member Greg Northrup sent to residents Monday says a carbon filtration system “designed to substantially remove all detectable odors” will be installed. Additionally, more oxygen will be added to the system this week, which is expected to help with the smell.>>PDF: Letter to residents

Lowell Energy AD says help from Webster Environmental, a company based out of Kentucky, helped it track down the source of the stench. The letter said Webster would help “permanently correct design and construction issues.”

“If they can make it work and not have the smell, I’m all for it,” resident Tim Kurzhals said. “But right now, it’s not controlled. And you know you worry about what we’re breathing, you worry about the kids that are going to schools.”

Lowell Energy AD says tests have not detected any human health issues connected to the smell.

For months, Lowell residents have been complaining about the funk, which they have described as like raw sewage and animal carcasses. Over the summer, the plant was cited repeatedly as a nuisance.

Lowell Energy AD has until Sept. 18 to come with a timeline to fix the problem.

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