A step-by-step explanation of the PacifiClean process
Editor’s Note: See related story about how some people are reacting to PacifiClean’s Quincy-based operation.
While PacifiClean Environmental is permitted by the state to move green waste from apple maggot quarantine areas to its Quincy facility, the company at this time has suspended its operations as it awaits word from the Washington State Department of Agriculture that the apple maggot season is over.
PacifiClean anticipates being back up and running by late October or early November, general manager Ryan Leong has said.
The following details some of the steps PacifiClean will take in its processes to protect the tree fruit industry from the apple maggot:
As of Jan. 1, King County residents and commercial businesses are required to separate recyclable and “municipal organic materials” from their regular garbage. Municipal organic materials, or MOS, includes food scraps and yard waste.
The waste is removed weekly via curbside pick-up and placed in compaction vehicles. The green waste picked up is compacted every fourth collection stop, resulting in up to 60 compaction cycles per load, according to PacifiClean.
The MOS is transported to a transfer station, where it is tipped into a designated area. The MOS is then loaded into the back of a trailer (either a 48- or 54-foot long trailer) until it reaches a density of 750 to 1,000 pounds per cubic yard of space. Trailers then are tarped-sealed and two fly strips are placed in each trailer, said Scott Cave, a consultant for PacifiClean.
PacifiClean states that floor and trailer compaction as well as the temperatures measured at the transfer station, which can reach more than 100 degrees, decreases the survivability of insects and vectors.
Trucks, tracked via GPS systems, then drive to the PacifiClean composting facility in Quincy, making no stops in the three-hour drive. Upon their arrival, drivers must drive the trailer onto a scale at the facility’s entrance. The material is weighed and its origin recorded. Trucks then drive off the scale to the tipping area, where the covered trailer will be backed onto an enclosed tipper.
The tractor will disconnect from the trailer and pull away, allowing the tipper doors to close and seal the facility prior to opening the trailer. The trailer then is elevated and the tipping begins.
At this time, the tipper is not enclosed at the Quincy facility. However, future plans call for building an enclosed metal building that will cover the processing line from the point of the trailers’ entrance to the point when processed material exits the building. The area will include a concrete floor, and all entrances and exits will have a double-door system.
The internal climate of the facility will have a positive pressure system, pulling all material into the opening, according to PacifiClean plans. As the material slides, it is funneled through the opening onto a concrete slab. Monitoring devices for the apple maggot will be installed around and by the opening.
PacifiClean states that with the mechanical air flow at the facility, it isn’t likely any potential apple maggot adults in the material would be released into the outside environment.
From the concrete slab, material is loaded into a hopper. The material moves to the “wobble” sorter and is sent through multiple processes to remove contaminates, including up to 12 hand pickers, air lift separators and magnets.
The material then moves through a grinder, where it is chopped into particles smaller than 4 inches. The grinded feedstock falls onto a conveyor belt and spreads across the belt. Three separate water delivery systems apply a nutrient-rich water mixture to the material. When the material exits the facility, it is placed in windrow composting piles, which means the organic matter is piled in long, uncovered rows.
The processing of the materials, including sorting, grinding and windrow piling, requires a minimum of 30 minutes. An apple maggot trapping and monitoring program will be followed throughout the process, according to PacifiClean.
Windrows are turned a minimum of five times within 15 days. During that time, the material will exceed 131 degrees.
The composting process itself is meant to destroy all agricultural pests and other pathogens, said Ryan Leong, general manager of PacifiClean.
Cleaning and picking out all non-organics on site before grinding improves not only the composting process but also ensures a higher quality end product, he said.
— By Jill FitzSimmons, firstname.lastname@example.org