Lowell residents doubtful of plan to fix biodigester stink

Lowell residents have complained of awful stench from plant for months

Lowell biodigester
The biodigester in Lowell. (Sept. 19, 2016)


LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — A filter that Lowell biodigester managers say will get rid of a foul odor coming from the plant is expected to be delivered and installed Tuesday morning.

The carbon absorption filter, which came from Texas, was initially supposed to be delivered Monday, but that was pushed back in the late hours due to safety reasons. It’s supposed to stop the stench seeping from the wastewater treatment system.

“It’ll basically capture all the odors coming off of what’s called the IFAS tank — it’s a big pre-treatment water tank. It’s coming from the building, capturing 90-plus percent of the total odors coming from the site,” Lowell Energy AD managing member Greg Northrup explained Monday night.

The company that owns the biodigester, Lowell Energy AD, says it’s a used filter but is expected to last up to two years.

Residents who have been complaining about the smell for months are skeptical.

“This thing is politically filthy from the ground all the way up,” Lowell resident Ryan Mitchell said of the biodigester during a Monday evening city council meeting.

He and other residents questioned if the problem will ever be fixed. They asked if the city council will continue to give the company more time for what they say is experimenting at the expense of others.

“You have no idea — grief, pain, arguments, unpleasant smells, coughing, gagging,” Mitchell said.

“I regret that I’ve put the community through this in terms of what we’re doing, but we’re working to solve this problem straight away,” Northrup told residents at the meeting.

He said that’s why the company suspended most of its operations last week until the problem causing the problem causing the odor is fixed.

The company sent an action plan to the city council on Friday. It said it should take 45 days to get all equipment installed and running properly.

The used filter cost about $70,000. When asked what a new one would have cost, the company said the decision to buy an old one was due to functionality rather than price — it would have taken 12 weeks to get a new one to Lowell.

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