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The Nature of Things

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Legislature considers sewer law changes to allow biological grease treatments


The County Legislature will hold public hearings on two proposed amendments to the Rockland County Sewer law when it convenes at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Allison-Parris County Office Building, 11 New Hempstead Road in New City.

The first amendment, sponsored by Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, D-Wesley Hills, would charge single-family homes one fee even if they have two kitchens. Homes with two kitchens currently pay two charges.

The second amendment, sponsored by Legislator Alden Wolfe, D-Suffern, would allow biological treatments to be added to a grease or oil interceptor, such as those used by restaurants and other facilities. Such treatment is currently banned.

Here is a news release from Legislator Wolfe regarding the biological treatment (verbatim):

Rockland County Legislator Alden H. Wolfe has proposed an amendment to the Rockland County Sewer Law that if passed, would allow food establishments that generate grease and oil the option to use biological methods to pre-treat and breakdown the captured waste, improving grease trap management.

Under the current sewer law, establishments such as restaurants, cafeterias, centralized kitchen or dining facilities are required to maintain grease and oil interceptors to prevent excessive amounts of waste, which clog sewer lines, from entering the sewer system.

Establishments are required to follow a regular, documented process to maintain and clean the interceptor and
remove and properly dispose of the grease. Presently, use of biological systems or treatments are prohibited, however, research has shown that some biological treatments break down complex grease molecules into simpler components, accelerating the degradation process that occurs naturally.

“Grease and oil are the natural enemy of a sewer system, narrowing pipes like plaque lining a blood vessel. Pre-treating grease and oil lessens the negative impact on the system as a whole and should contribute to its overall efficiency,” said Legislator Wolfe.  “Grease removed from a grease trap is considered hazardous waste, and breaking it down in advance reduces the volume of waste needed to be pumped, transported, processed and ultimately disposed of.”

“I want to make it very clear,” said Wolfe, “that if adopted, this law would simply create an additional opportunity for food establishments, not a mandate.  For those who do opt to utilize this method, pretreatment would not be a substitute for the regular maintenance that is required by the law.”

Above right, Legislator Alden Wolfe (The Journal News/file photo)

This entry was posted on Monday, October 4th, 2010 at 3:59 pm by Laura Incalcaterra. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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The Nature of Things provides a chance to talk about the wild denizens that share the Lower Hudson Valley with us and the natural settings that make this place home for everyone. From Long Island Sound to the Hudson River to the Great Swamp and beyond, almost anything related to the environment is fair game in this blog.


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SBenischekJournal News staff writer Greg Clary writes Earth Watch, reporting on environmental issues in the lower Hudson region. Clary has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Journal News since 1988 and has covered police and courts, transportation, municipal government, development and the environment in the Lower Hudson Valley, among other topics.
Laura IncalcaterraLaura Incalcaterra covers the environment, open space and zoning and planning issues for The Journal News. A Boston College graduate, Laura grew up in Rockland, attended East Ramapo schools and has worked for The Journal News since 1993. Laura has written features and covered North Rockland, crime, government and a host of other issues.
SBenischekMike Risinit covers Patterson and Kent in Putnam County, as well as environmental topics touching on the Hudson River and the Great Swamp. Risinit has been a reporter at The Journal News since 1998.
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