After more than 40 years, a viable solution for recycling waste byproduct from Grand Island’s meat packing plant has been granted a temporary conditional use permit.

On a 5-to-2 vote, the Hall County Board of Supervisors approved a 90-day permit for Smart Soil, LLC, and Andrew Woitaszewski to test the process.

Woitaszewslot intends to “start small” with low volumes of material he can comfortably handle, such as paunch and grit material from JBS, but also include organic waste material from local manufacturers and the city of Grand Island. The recycled waste would be used as fertilizer.

The largest volume of material would come from JBS, which at current production level produces nine semi trailer loads per day. JBS current ships its organic waste to David City about 73 miles distance from the plant.

Paunch is the material left in the stomach and intestines of slaughtered livestock, such as undigested corn, straw and silage.

The proposed compost facility is located one mile north of Husker Highway and 190th Road on the west side of the road. Smart Soil and JBS are considering a contractual agreement for seven years that entails nine loads a day.

In a departure from the anaerobic processes tested in past composting operations, Smart Soil would use an aerobic composting method, which utilizes oxygen in the composting of material that would be placed in windrows 10 feet wide and about 4 feet tall. The material would be turned constantly and the temperature would be maintained to eliminate moisture.

The 90-day test plot would involve processing just two day’s volume of waste from JBS.

Prior to transfer, the waste product from JBS would be processed to reduce moisture, and blood, grease and animal body parts would not be sent to the composting facility.

During the trial period, people living in proximity to the site will have the opportunity to visit the site and evaluate its impact on air and water quality.

At the end of the 90-day trial period the neighbors and other interested parties will be invited to a public hearing to voice their opinions on the proposed facility.

During the trial period the county reserves to the right to shut down the operation if any of the conditions are not met. The conditions include regular inspections.

If there is strong opposition to the composting operation at the proposed site, the matter will likely be dropped for good.

A committee made up of neighbors, Hall County supervisors and a Hall County Buildings and Grounds Department official will be formed to review the composting process and have a voice in its fate.

We applaud the Hall County Board of Supervisors for allowing the trial of a proven recycling process that may very well resolve a longstanding, nettlesome issue for Hall County. If successful, the enterprise would contribute to the county’s economic base and also indirectly serve area cattle producers who trade with JBS.

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