CSWD to offer refunds for contaminated compost
The Chittenden Solid Waste District Board of Commissioners, at a July 25, 2012, special meeting, voted in support of a compost customer assistance package. Pending final legal review, assistance will be made available to gardeners who have been affected by the presence of trace amounts of herbicides found in some batches of compost made at CSWD's facilities.
CSWD Field Technicians have already begun data-gathering site visits to gardens reported as having been affected. Gardeners with demonstrated impact and proof of purchase will be eligible for an assistance program.
The compost assistance program covers an array of scenarios, and specific instructions on how to request assistance will be announced soon. CSWD asks that gardeners who have not already filed a report and wish to take part in the assistance program submit an online Form for Reporting Abnormal Plant Growth at www.GreenMountainCompost.com, and not take any other action until specific directions are issued. Customers who have already submitted a form need not take any further action.
Broadly speaking, the program will likely include the following elements (details to be announced soon):
- Application for refunds and remediation through the assistance program must be made by September 30, 2012. Online: Fill out the "Form for Reporting Abnormal Plant Growth" at www.GreenMountainCompost.com. By phone: Call Green Mountain Compost at (802) 660-4949.
- Unused bagged product: CSWD will establish a take-back and refund program for unused bagged product, purchased between 1/1/12 and 7/13/12, in its original packaging, with proof of purchase.
- Unused bulk product: CSWD will refund the purchase price and delivery cost of unused bulk compost purchased between 1/1/12 and 6/27/12. CSWD will arrange for pickup of unused material.
- Impacted gardens: Once symptoms of herbicide impact have been verified, CSWD will refund full purchase price, tax, and delivery cost (if applicable) of entire bulk compost product purchase made between 1/1/12 and 6/27/12, plus up to $100 per cubic yard of bulk compost to cover loss of seeds, plants, materials, labor, and produce; and bagged product purchased between 1/1/12 and 7/13/12 (with proof of purchase), plus up to $8 per bag cover loss of seeds, plants, materials, labor, and produce.
- Appeals process: For customers who are dissatisfied with the outcome of the assistance program, the CSWD Executive Board will serve as an appeals board.
The issue of herbicide contamination came to light June 25, 2012, when CSWD began fielding reports from staff and customers of symptoms indicative of herbicide exposure. CSWD stopped sales of bulk product the following day. Subsequent lab tests revealed the presence of the persistent herbicides Clopyralid and Picloram. CSWD halted sales of bagged product on July 12 and issued a formal buyback program to retailers. To date, CSWD has sent 78 samples of feed stocks and finished compost products for testing.
On learning that levels of herbicides detected in the compost range from 1.7 - 15.3 parts per billion the Vermont Department of Health announced on July 5 that these levels are far lower than levels that would increase risk of harm to human health--lower, in fact, than the amount allowed to be present in non-organic produce purchased for consumption at grocery stores.
For more detailed information, please view the online fact sheet, which is continually updated as new information is available.
The Chittenden Solid Waste District was established in 1987 after the Vermont Legislature passed Act 78 solid waste law. Functioning much like a school or water district, Vermont's solid waste districts are government entities that design regional solutions to the solid waste challenges faced by their member towns. Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD) encompasses Chittenden County, and is the largest solid waste district in Vermont. The District's mission is to provide efficient, economical, and environmentally sound management of solid waste generated by member towns and cities and their residents and businesses. Converting natural materials into compost is a core means by which CSWD fulfills its mission.