Lorain County locals fight against proposed biosolids facility in Grafton Township


Chris Moran

Signs reading “No BioSolids in Grafton” are a common sight in yards throughout Grafton Township as residents fight against a proposed biosolids handling facility.

In Southeast Lorain County, which is approximately 16 miles from campus, a large parcel of land lies unoccupied aside from a gravel driveway, where plans to build a biosolids handling facility have some members of the public expressing their unease. Others, like the Lorain County Health Commissioner, argue that public alarm may be unwarranted.   

A company called Grow Now LLC has its sights set on the parcel in Grafton Township to build a facility for storing biosolids, a substance often used as fertilizer derived from leftover human waste in water treatment facilities.   

In response to the proposal, which would place the facility on the Northwest corner of Law Road and State Route 83, community members have dotted the landscape with signs that read “No Bio Solids in Grafton.”  

Those responsible for the signs are a group of Grafton Township residents who have attended local trustee meetings and pooled some money together to get legal help to prevent the biosolids facility from being permitted by the local government.   

Chris West, a resident of Grafton township and a part of this group responsible for the signs, said his main work was to engage the issue with a law firm. West said he has some personal concerns about the biosolids being part of his community.   

“I’m concerned about the smell in the air and added vehicle traffic from trucks hauling [biosolids] in and out of our neighborhood,” West said. “I’m definitely concerned about the local wildlife. You know, we’ve got creeks and streams on our property and… whether its groundwater or overflow, I don’t want it anywhere near my property.”  

West also said that while he built his dream home in the neighborhood, having biosolids there could impact those selling the housing market in the area.   

 “You know if this happens, if it goes forward, it’s going to affect property values.” West said “That’s not number one on my list because I’m not planning on leaving.”  

Lorain County Health Commissioner Mark Adams said that the Lorain County Health Department does not have much, if any, say over what happens with a potential biosolids facility at this time, but that when it comes to complaints, the Health Department would play a part.  

“If someone was to call any complaint, if anything was to happen, our Health Department would most likely go out and investigate it and we would forward anything to the [Ohio Environmental Protection Agency].” Adams said. “When it comes to the licensing piece, its highly regulated by the EPA.”   

The EPA has set standards for biosolids maintaining that any sewage sludge be low in dangerous pathogens, as well as a series of chemicals that can be hazardous to human health.  

“The processing of human waste has gone on for years, and it’s successful when it is applied in agricultural settings so long as it is treated exactly the way it is supposed to be treated,” Adams said.  

Matt Harlan, another Grafton Township resident opposing the potential biosolids facility, said he worries that Grow Now will use quirks in regulations to their advantage in building its facility.   

“Myself, personally, I am trying to find out as much of the science behind what they are claiming to do and how they’re able to use it to their advantage.” Harlan said. “They claim it as agriculture so they can get away with a lot of stuff that the government can’t get around.”  

Despite EPA standards for what can be in biosolids, Harlan is still concerned about potential pollution. Harlan said that biosolid use creates a problem through the health-damaging synthetic chemicals like perfluorooctane sulfonic acid perfluorinated alkylated substances, which are not the chemicals that the EPA is searching for.   

“They call them forever chemicals. They’re in everything, and that’s the stuff that gets into the ground and never goes away,” Harlan said. “So there’s a handful of those chemicals that they look for, but they don’t look for anything else.”