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MERCO WELCOMES ARRIVAL OF FIRST RAILCARS

 MERCO WELCOMES ARRIVAL OF FIRST RAILCARS
 SIERRA BLANCA, Texas, July 22 /PRNewswire/ -- "We intend to be good


neighbors and strongly believe we have a first class project that will benefit both the environment and the local community," said MERCO partner Ralph Macchio as he was joined by local dignitaries, area residents and other MERCO Joint Venture officials today in welcoming the arrival of the first railcars of biosolids at a briefing and beneficial use application demonstration at MERCO's ranch near Sierra Blanca in West Texas. Beneficial use experts from Texas Tech University and the company provided a briefing and tour of operations for those in attendance.
 "This is a good day for Sierra Blanca and a good day for MERCO," said Macchio. "The positive economic impact we will have in the area through job creation and consumption of goods and services combined with the environmental revitalization of seriously depleted rangelands makes it a win-win situation."
 The six-year MERCO project will use proven and environmentally sound methods for beneficial application of biosolids as fertilizer, revitalizing seriously depleted rangelands with native grasses.
 From the outset, the MERCO project has been designed with a number of environmental safeguards and quality control measures including a sophisticated range management program, runoff monitoring and other testing. In addition the MERCO project will be the subject of an ongoing study conducted by Texas Tech University, College of Agricultural Sciences.
 "Texas Tech scientists have a sincere belief that MERCO intends that the project be conducted in an environmentally sound manner," said Ronald Sosebee, a professor of range management at Texas Tech University.
 "A majority of the business community supports the beneficial-land application project near Sierra Blanca, Texas," said H.A. Virdell Jr., a local Sierra Blanca businessman. "We believe that recycling is the only alternative to solving the waste problems in our country. The MERCO project is an excellent opportunity for our community to learn to beneficially utilize sewer sludge in a more environmentally safe manner."
 Nationally, about half of the sewage biosolids generated at municipal treatment facilities is currently being applied to farmland as fertilizer, including more than 500 sites in Texas alone. Biosolids are the remains of micro-organisms used to break down organic materials in waste water to their basic components.
 Their cell matter consists of the same primary components of soil organic matter. The issue of the disposal biosolids has been the subject of numerous studies prepared by noted experts throughout the country that support beneficial use as an alternative to dumping.
 In 1988, a new era of environmental responsibility began with the passage of the much-heralded Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988 by Congress that prohibited ocean dumping of biosolids. The City of New York agreed with the EPA to stop disposing of its biosolids in the ocean by July 1, 1992. In the ocean, biosolids were a resource out of place.
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator, William K. Reilly, has stated that: "By protecting the ocean from use as a dump we are also enabling sludge to be recognized as a resource, and not a waste product."
 The City of New York's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) evaluated and graded proposals from over 80 different companies to determine the process or processes most environmentally beneficial to deal with biosolids in the absence of ocean dumping. A technical advisory committee from the DEP used numerous factors including technical merit, dumping records, cost and environmental impact and selected four different proposals, including that of MERCO.
 The beneficial use of biosolids as fertilizer has been determined by the Texas Water Commission, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Department of Health, and others to be beneficial.
 -0- 7/22/92
 /CONTACT: Marc Sybert of MERCO, 915-986-2477 or 915-833-4240/ CO: MERCO ST: Texas IN: SU:


KD -- NY085 -- 1981 07/22/92 13:53 EDT
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Date:Jul 22, 1992
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