The Kodiak City Council looked at the results of a composting pilot project at Tuesday night’s work session.

The project study was done as a way for the city to find an alternative management option for biosolid waste.

Kodiak Island Borough notified the city that when the landfill is near capacity, it will close to sludge disposal.

About 2,500 tons of biosolids or sludge is created in Kodiak per year. It is co-disposed with municipal solid waste at the landfill.

The landfill is nearing capacity, and biosolids account for 10 to 20 percent of annual volume going into the landfill.

Composting was chosen over incineration and the Cannibal process because of lower cost. The selection of composting also resulted in quite a few problems and questions.

The process of turning biosolids into compost requires a lot of wood — about 4,000 cubic yards per year for a full-scale operation. According to the pilot project, the city could supply up to 50 percent if it purchases a pricey tub grinder.

There are also issues with controlling odor and the need for an enclosed facility.

It total, an estimated $3 million to $4 million would be needed for the project, something city council members called a surreal underestimate.

“I have never, ever, ever in this community have ever come in and done a project at what is estimated,” council member Tom Walters said. “The fact that people donated woodchips, I don’t think you’re going to get donated woodchips.

“And if you’re assumption is that we’re actually going to sell and make money off of compost, those are some huge premises that are being made and I guess I’m having a hard time buying that.”

From a business perspective, the plan didn’t seem very sound to some members.

“I think a lot of pieces are missing,” council member John Whiddon said.

Making compost creates more material than it starts with, and produces the problem of where it all goes. The cost of shipping compost for sale may be too high.

There were holes and concerns with the information presented, but it seemed the only viable choice.

“I don’t mind doing this if we don’t have any alternatives,” Walters said.

Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via e-mail at

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