Stanwood firm looks to double its composting operation

Expansion of Lenz Enterprises’ facility calls for processing more hours each day and on Saturdays.

STANWOOD — A Stanwood firm is looking to double the size of its composting operation off Highway 532, a move which would make it one of the largest commercial composting facilities in the state.

Lenz Enterprises is seeking permits to receive up to 150,000 tons of organic materials like yard trimmings and food waste each year, twice what it is now allowed to handle at the site.

As envisioned, processing would occur more hours each weekday and, for the first time, on Saturdays. Areas used for each stage of the composting process would be enlarged, as would the equipment used for capturing emissions and preventing odors.

But the number of trucks making deliveries is projected to be the same or fewer. That’s because Lenz says it will replace its smaller “packer-trucks,” which carry only a few tons of material, with trucks capable of delivering up to 30 tons, according to information submitted by the company to regulatory agencies.

A company official described the proposed expansion as a “pretty minor project” that should not negatively impact the community.

Though production will be on a larger scale, program director Ed Wheeler said, “We’re going to continue to do what we’ve been doing the past 10 years.”

The Lenz composting operation is located within the family-owned company’s sand and gravel mine at 5210 Highway 532.

Composting began there in 2008. Initially, the company was permitted to accept up to 30,000 tons of organics a year, including compostable containers, yard debris and food and wood waste. It can also take in items such as animal manure, shells and marijuana waste as defined in state law.

In 2014, Lenz received permission to expand and process up to 75,000 tons per year of organics which are primarily made into a consumer product for gardening and landscaping. A vast majority of that material comes from the City of Seattle, though some comes from sites in Snohomish, Island and Skagit counties.

The firm is now looking to double its annual intake again, to 150,000 tons. For perspective, that’s roughly the amount handled by Cedar Grove at its Everett compost facility in 2018, according to the state Department of Ecology.

In February, Lenz applied to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency for a modification of its existing air permit and to the Snohomish Health District for a modification of its solid waste handling permit. Both agencies approved the previous expansion.

An engineering report filed by Lenz with its permit applications asserts that since the 2014 expansion — which followed technological upgrades to speed up the composting and curing process — “no significant regulatory infractions have been received.”

And it states there’s been only one odor complaint since the facility opened in 2008.

“The cause for this odor issue was ambiguous but Lenz assessed operations and made minor modifications anyway to mitigate potential odors,” the report states. “No additional odor complaints have occurred since.”

That same engineering report lays out changes envisioned for each step of the process to accommodate the desired expansion.

The first involves the facility’s operating hours, which would go from the current six hours a day, Monday through Friday, to 10.5 hours a day — 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. — Monday through Saturday. Overlapping shifts of workers would be deployed to deal with the increase in material needing to be moved into pretreatment.

In the first stage, the area where material is aerating would be more than doubled. And 177,000 square feet of paved area would be added for the second phase of composting in which piles of material are turned. With more space for aerating and pile turning, the time spent in the curing process should be shortened and the potential for odorous emissions decreased, the report contends.

Another change is to increase the capacity of the air processing system in the tipping building where arriving organic material is deposited. This, too, is intended to prevent the escape of any potential odors.

At this point, the company’s application is not complete.

Wheeler said additional information will be submitted dealing with traffic and odors.

Also, the firm must submit further environmental analysis under the State Environmental Policy Act to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, said Steve Van Slyke, the agency’s director of compliance.

With that information, the agency can determine if the project could have any significant impacts requiring mitigation. A draft air permit, containing any mitigations, would then be published, he said. At that point, the public would be invited to review all the documents and offer comment on the draft permit and proposed expansion, he said.

He confirmed there has been no history of problems at the site.

“That doubling (in 2014) went well,” Van Slyke said. “Our challenge is making certain that this doubling goes as well.”

Anne Alfred, environmental health specialist for the Snohomish Health District, said the company has a good track record.

“They do a really good job managing their business,” she said. “With a process as complicated as making compost, there are things we want to be sure they are able to manage.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

More in Local News

911 received multiple calls reporting a fire at Marie Anne Terrace apartments early Monday morning, Feb. 6, 2023 in Everett, Washington. There were no injuries or fatalities. (Everett Fire Department)
Fire damages Everett apartments, displaces 10

The fire at the Marie Anne Terrace apartments Monday night displaced four families and caused extensive property damage.

A rack with cards bettors can use to choose their own numbers to purchase lottery ticket on a counter at a market. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Been to Auburn lately? That’s where $754M Powerball ticket was sold

This is only the second time a Powerball jackpot has been won in Washington.

Granite Falls
Man shot near Granite Falls; assailants at large

Two suspects fled after shooting a 33-year-old man in a motorhome Tuesday morning, according to police.

Photo by David Welton
A federal grant will help pay for the cost of adding a charging station to the Clinton ferry terminal.
Federal money to help electrify Clinton ferry dock

The Federal Transit Administration awarded state ferries a $4.9 million grant to help electrify the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

Community Transit is leasing a 60-foot articulated BYD battery electric bus this year as an early step in the zero emission planning process. (Community Transit)
Community Transit testing 60-foot electric bus

The agency leased the BYD K11M for $132,000 this year as the first step in its zero-emission planning process.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

Snohomish home-invasion suspect had been released weeks earlier

Eleazar Cabrera, 33, is accused of breaking into a home and shooting a man three times. He has a lengthy rap sheet.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A holiday for Lunar New Year, a return of green and white license plates

It’s Day 29. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

Most Read