Residents raise a stink over animal composting facility

Published 5:55 pm Thursday, April 2, 2020

Boyle County’s proposed dead livestock composting facility at the Alum Springs Convenience Center should be located somewhere else. That’s what residents of the area believe, and it’s mostly because of the possible contamination of the many underground springs, and Clark’s Run which flows through Danville and empties into Herrington Lake. But they’re having a difficult time getting their concerns addressed because of being isolated in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jim Underwood, who lives near where the proposed site will be located, said “It’s right in my backyard.”

“Hundreds are against it. This has got our community tore all to pieces over it,” Underwood said. Plus, the community wasn’t notified of Boyle County Judge-Executive Howard Hunt’s decision to put the facility in their neighborhood, he added.

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He and others want to circulate a petition, but the logistics of doing this would be very difficult given the current pandemic situation with social distancing and disinfecting the pens, paper and clipboards, Underwood explained.

“We’re stuck. No petitions and no meetings. Lawyers can’t meet with anybody either,” he said.

But he has called Hunt, the Environmental Protection Agency and local Representative Daniel Elliott. “The whole neighborhood is calling,” but they’re not getting much of a response.

David Anderson, who lives on Alum Springs Crosspike said, “No one out here was notified it was going to happen. I caught wind of it,” when a neighbor told him about the composting facility. “They should have put a flyer on doors,” he said. “They tried to sneak this in on us.”

Anderson said what he’s scared about is that the facility, which will compost well over 1,000 carcasses annually, is planned to be located near where Clark’s Run starts flowing. That area of the county is also saturated with natural springs. “They pop up everywhere,” Anderson said.

When the runoff from rain and decaying carcasses leach into the ground, he believes the springs will be contaminated, including Clark’s Run which flows in front of the industrial park, through Danville and into Herrington Lake.

“I can’t believe the Clark’s Run people are silent over all of this,” Anderson said.

“Perryville really fought hard because of their concern over the Chaplin River. Why isn’t there a concern for Clark’s Run?” Anderson asked.

“How are they going to keep that stuff out of the watershed?”

Plus, “I don’t want to have to deal with their problem in my backyard,” Anderson said, referring to the farmers’ dead livestock.

Anderson said he’s heard estimates that on average eight carcasses would be delivered for composting every day. Yet, officials said there wouldn’t be much of a smell. “On a 95-degree, hot summer day, thousands of dead cows and you don’t smell it? I don’t believe it.” he said.

Paul Sherwood also lives near the proposed composting site. “People are livid because nobody knew about it,” he said. Officials tried to put the composting facility there “under the cover of darkness,” Sherwood said.

He also thinks farmers should be paying for disposing of their dead animals, not the taxpayers’ money.

Resident, Perry Goode said Boyle County should continue hauling the dead animals to the Lincoln County landfill, which it began doing on April 1. “What’s the big deal?”

On March 19, The Advocate-Messenger reported that Hunt decided that the site would be located in a “remote area at the Alum Springs Convenience Center, instead of the previously discussed Perryville Convenience Center.

Hunt said he wanted the carcass composting site to be at the “best possible location,” which turned out to be the Alum Springs center. Plus, “This works out to be less controversial,” he said.