[USCC] Problem composter tries to get in business again -Hinkley Calif

maureen.reilly@sympatico.ca maureen.reilly at sympatico.ca
Sat May 20 19:05:27 CDT 2006

Dear Fellow Composter fans:

As you will see, I am very concerned about the proposed 'Nursery Products' 
sludge comosting site that is proposed in the Mohave Desert near Hinkley 
California.  Some of you may think I am overstating the problems...but look 
at my next two posts and you will see that the issues are real.
I'll explain the concerns in more detail if you ask me to clarify.

The clock is ticking..you have less than 30 days.

Nursery Products (Jeff Meberg) is trying to locate their massive sludge
'compost' site to a Mohave Desert community just 8 miles west of Hinkley 
California.  Remember the contaminated drinking water (chromium 6) ?  Erin 
Brokovich?  Yup..thats the place.

Here is the Notice of Preparation of an Enivronmental Impact Report (EIR) 
for this gigantic sludge site and the other required EIR preparation notices 
  and maps.  They are all available at:


This is the same facility  operator that was court ordered shut by a judge 
in Adelanto for public health protection.  The Environmental Health 
Department didn't say a  peep  to the dismay of the 125 outraged 
complaintants from local residents...many of whom were complaining on behalf 
of hundreds of pupils in a school or dozens of employees.

Yes, the Environmental Health Department has a telephone hotline to which it 
directs complainants.  Then it can say it didn't respond because there 'were 
no written complaints'. Cute, huh?  Caifornia Integrated Waste Mangement 
Board (CIWMB) staff explained to me (with bored impatience) that no matter 
how many phone calls of vomitting, illness, nausea, hospitalization were 
received by the Lead Environmental Agency (Dan Avera and Jacqueline Adams) 
... if the complaints were not in writing they didn't count as complaints.  
So any investigation of the failure of the Env Health Dept to investigate 
public health complaints cannot procede on the basis of telephone complaints 
to the Environmentl Hotline staffed by Env Health Dept staff.  (You liking 

Essentially public complaints were directed to a dead end...an unenforceable 
empty phone call to an office that collected and compiled complaints and 
failed to act on them.

Now the hand of the same Env Health Dept is evident in this proposal...a 
proposal 10 times bigger than the Nursery Products sludge mess in Adelanto.

In the last proposal Dan Avera created an equation that one  yard of sludge 
weighs a ton, one yard of finished compost weighs a ton.  But that isn't 
true.  A yard of sludge weighs about two tons.  Ah...but this slight of hand 
would have allowed the facility to receive twice the amount of sludge that 
it was permitted to take...because the limits were set out in yards!

The slight of hand is perfected in this proposal...it says that the facility 
will take a daily maximum of 2,000 tons of sludge and greenwaste.  Um...wet 
ton or dry ton...?  doesn't say.  So it is either 2,000 wet tons or about 
8,000 wet tons (if they mean a daily max of 2,000 dry ton equivents)

How is the public supposed to know what might be permitted to arrive at the 
facility if it is not spelled out what the proposed tonnage will be? And HOW 
much sludge and HOW much green waste?  What is the ratio?  What kind of 
greenwaste?  Meberg swore on a stack of bibles that the fly invasion on his 
sludge piles came from grass clippings (uh huh..he said that)..so is he 
allowing grass clippings this time?

And why is the site being used as a transfer station for used oil ?

And where are the truck washing stations...you can't take a sludged-up truck 
with sludge underbelly, wheel wells and tires out on the road without 
washing it down. Where will the sludged wash waste from the trucks go?

Even a cursory look at this thing is a nightmare.  How did CIWMB let an 
incomplete, misleading document like this out into public view?

Look, even the reporter who wrote the story below thinks Jeff Meberg is 
bringing sludge compost to the site...instead of bringing sewage sludge 
(Class B and worse) and attempting to compost it at this site.

And where is the description of this so-called composting process?  The 
process that Meberg has been using doesn't meet the minumum requriements of 
the 503 legislation.  He doesn't turn the windrows adequately to meet the 
minimum requirements.

He said in previous applications that a little sprinkle of actinomycetes 
(sometimes described as simply finished turkey compost) was a magic 
proprietary ammendment that obviates the obligation to meet the 503 
requirements.  But if this is his secret sauce then he better take it into 
the EPA Pathogen Equivalency Committee for evaluation.

Pixie dust is no alternative to proper composting techniques. If you care 
about desert ecology, if you care about compost, if you care about public 
health...you need to review this proposal with an eagle eye.  This sludger 
is about as bad as they get.

Make your comments in writing to Carrie Hyke - San Bernardino Advance 
Carrie Hyke at 909-387-4147 chyke at lusd.sbcounty.gov


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hinkley responds to compost company plans
Nursery Products, rebuffed by Adelanto and Newberry, looks to a new location
By GUS LAMBERT / Staff Writer

HINKLEY — Residents were put on notice — a new environmental processing 
facility may be coming to town.

The Hinkley School hosted more than 20 residents and county officials in the 
first of several meetings scheduled to review the compost disposal proposal 
applied for by Nursery Products LLC.

Some residents objected to the facility.

“We’re tired of being used as lab rats,” said resident John Coffey, in 
reference to the past Pacific Gas and Electric chromium-6 contamination of 
area groundwater that inspired the movie “Erin Brockovich.”

“This area is just starting to recover from that nightmare,” said resident 
Joann Williams.

Residents at the meeting expressed concerns about traffic, flies and other 
vermin, health hazard considerations, odors, wind and waterbor ne pollutants 
including dust, road wear conditions, concer ns about existing wildlife — 
especially the desert tortoise - and other items.

Williams also noted that people are just starting to move back into the 
region because the land has become desirable to those seeking escape from 
the rapid g rowth in Barstow.

Nursery Products, a biosolid and sewage sludge disposal company, has 
acquired land — 160 acres — eight miles west of Hinkley near the 
intersection of Badger and Beaver roads.

But, before they can begin dumping treated compost consisting of biosolids 
and green waste, Nursery Products must obtain a zoning change and other 
permits from the San Bernardino County Land Use and Services Department.

“The land is currently zoned for conservation use,” said Car rie Hyke, a 
county land use supervisor. But it can be redesignated for institutional 
use, she added.

Hyke said the meeting with residents was the first in a process that 
provides the public with four opportunities for submission of comments and 
concerns regarding the land use change proposal.

She said the impact review looks at 14 different issues and includes several 
opportunities for public comment at different stages.

Hyke distributed informational packets that included maps of the site, 
related information and a form letter for comments.

She said concerned citizens have 30 days to submit comments during this 
preliminary stage of the process.

John P. Larson, a consultant with the fir m hired by the county to 
independently assess the impact of the possible operations, told the crowd 
all of their concerns were reasonable and valid.

“There were some new things mentioned that made the trip here worthwhile,” 
he said and added that all issues and concer ns will be addressed in his 

The next period for public participation will be sometime in August or 
September if the review process stays on track, Hyke said. At that time the 
public will have 45 days to submit additional comments and another open 
meeting will be held during that time.

Hyke said that the board will have more infor mation available at this time 
because many preliminary impact studies will be completed.

Information about the project is available on the county’s Web site at 

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