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Yard waste solution: Sausage power?

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By Cindy Simpson

As brush piles grow bigger for small communities like those in Roane County, a green waste recycling project may be the solution.

“We have a lot,” said Rockwood City Recorder Becky Ruppe. “It costs about $10,000 a year,”

Harriman’s ever-growing pile is on city property on Fiske Heights.

It needs to be dealt with for a Renaissance Festival that wants to locate on the property. The entry to the proposed fair site is where the sizable pile is now.

That was one of the concerns for Harriman City Treasurer Charles Kerley when looking at the lease agreement the city approved with the fair organizers.

The deal included moving the wood pile and widening the road.

“It looks like the timing of some of these things taking place are pretty tight,” said Kerley before council got approval to add an additional 3o days to the work deadline.

Roane County cities are signing on to a study that will research the feasibility of it in Loudon County and whether it’s worthwhile to take waste there.

Warren Nevad, a municipal management consultant with Municipal Advisory Technical Service, is working on getting communities on board.

“This program, if it proves to be economically feasible could provide relief to yard wastes’ logistical challenges to communities and bring feedstock for Loudon County to handle and process, which in turn could serve an end user such as Wampler Sausage,” Nevad said.

Wampler Sausage uses a green waste system to generate power at its Loudon County facility. Recently, Harriman officials took a tour of the facility to see how the unit works.

Nevad said Gordon Harless, the director of Loudon County Convenience, approached MTAS and County Technical Assistance Service to “help cultivate support among area cities and counties to take a look at the potential economic and environmental benefits of converting yard waste into feedstock for clean energy generation.”

Nevad said it isn’t clear yet if the disposal of waste this way will be cheaper, but it is agreed it’s worth looking at.

“So far, the cities of Oliver Springs, Harriman, Kingston and Rockwood have agreed to participate in the feasibility study and hopefully this approach will be a statewide model to emulate,” Nevad said.

In a concept by Harless, who has not gotten any commitment from Loudon County Commission, Loudon would build an urban wood and yard waste recycling center which can use biomass including bark, leaves, branches, limbs, trunks and grass clippings.

The biomass would be prepared at Loudon’s facility for feedstock for a cellulose to energy production facility.

Harless’ concept includes Loudon County accepting material once a location and equipment are in place, with equipment acquisition depending on grants.

“Each Solid Waste District in Tennessee is mandated by the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991 to reduce or divert waste by 25 percent. The woody biomass that is being landfilled takes up valuable space and produces methane gas,” he said in his concept.

Mayor Chris Mason said there are possibilities this could be a real benefit for the cities.

“There is a possibility that we could get a grant for a tub grinder too if we do this, because of the green initiative,” Mason said.

A tub grinder has been on the city’s wish list since the issue of yard waste started proving a problematic topic in recent years.