City amends fat, oil, and grease ordinance

The Henderson City Council voted unanimously during its Monday evening regular meeting to amend its fat, oil, and grease (commonly known as a FOG ordinance).

Waste Reclamation Facility Director Tom Spain told council members that items in the ordinance needed to be changed. For example, where the old ordinance talked about using freon to separate oil and grease from waste water, current protocols call for the use of hexane, a highly volatile gas that is more explosive than gasoline.

The ordinance will also require that grease haulers be licensed in North Carolina. He told members that there have been instances in other localities of haulers pumping grease back into municipal sewer systems.

Spain told members that grease plugs up the sewer lines, and that the city has “had a lot of blockages”. He added that his department figured out who was causing the blockages one at a time.

Instead of having five tiers of violations, the new ordinance has only three. The benefit of this, according to Spain, is that the fines increase a lot faster than in the old ordinance.

Member Mike Rainey asked if the city should “have a say-so” on grease traps within the city limits.

City Attorney John Zollicoffer mentioned that grease traps are required for restaurants in North Carolina state building codes.

Spain expressed the hope that the county will contact the city when it knows that a restaurant will be opened so that the city can work with restaurant owners on the grease trap issue.

Member Mike Inscoe asked if all restaurant sewers are being tested for grease within a calendar year. Spain responded that approximately 80% are tested in a year. He indicated that the tests are billed back to the businesses.

There are 175 restaurants in Henderson that need to be tested each year, Spain told members. With no staff member dedicated to doing the testing, the director stated that not every restaurant is tested every year.

Member Sara Coffey asked where the grease goes when it is hauled away. Spain informed her that it is sent to recycle centers where it is made into biofuel.