City OKs $300,000 sewer line for NBAF

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners on Tuesday approved the construction of a sewer line for the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) during their legislative meeting.

Commissioner Karen McCulloh said during the meeting that the $300,000 project would be funded by money already set aside by the city.

When NBAF was first proposed, the city pledged $5 million in funding through building infrastructure (streets and utilities) for the project.

City manager Ron Fehr said although Congress has yet to approve federal funding to actually construct NBAF itself, construction on the power plant has begun. Other water and sewer projects have been approved or completed.

“I think it’s a good sign,” he said. “Actually, the feds designed this project. The feds don’t have a way for us to give them money. So we build things for them.”

He said the new sewer line is similar to the line the city built for the Biological Research Institute in Pat Roberts Hall.

The dedicated line will not connect to the city’s main line for several hundred yards as an added safety precaution, because of the type of waste generated by NBAF.

“When BRI was built, they produce high strength waste,” Fehr said. “So will NBAF produce high strength waste that will have to be pre-treated before it enters into the sewer system, or otherwise it will come down (to the waste water treatment plant) and kill our bugs, which is not a good thing.”

Fehr said the dedicated line is added protection against the possibility of the waste not getting enough pre-treatment. He said that, in addition to adding chemicals that will neutralize it, the waste will be irradiated before leaving NBAF. The hope is the single line will give the sewage time to dilute in case pre-treatment is missed or not enough.

In addition, sampling stations will be built along the pipe to allow for periodic sample testing to ensure the waste is being treated correctly.

Fehr said that technology is being developed that will use sensors to monitor that waste on a full-time basis. Until then, the city will take samples to ensure the safety of the public and the “bugs” at the wastewater treatment plant.

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