Craig Harris, Michigan State University wrote:
"totally apart from the details of the king of the wind case, it would seem that we would benefit from having a clear test of when the buying of plant material or animal manure is part of a legitimate farming operation, and when it is not . . . does anyone know if the state has such a test at the moment . . ."
I don't claim that King of the Wind is doing this (I have not observed their operations), but there is a so-called "composting" operation in Saint Clair County that uses wood from what appears to be demolitions (houses, etc.). Much of this wood is painted, or is particle board, oriented strand board, plywood, and other building materials. The demolition wood is roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of the compost content, which is chipped and combined with wood chips (directly from trees) and other organic matter. There is a lot of other stuff that makes its way in, like vinyl siding, formica, etc.. While I would normally advocate composting or chipping for mulch of pure wood, the paint, varnish, and other substances should be a concern because of potential lead content and other potentially toxic substances. I'm not an expert in wood building materials, but I think the glues in particle board, plywood, and oriented strand board contain, or break down into formaldehyde among other things. I doubt that there is little effort to sort out treated lumber as well, containing various arsenic and copper compounds. Also, some wood materials (commercial door and window headers, etc.) are treated with fire-retarding chemicals. After what I have seen on this site on a few different visits, I sure wouldn't want any of it in my yard, especially my garden, and would be very leery of commercial sources, not to mention the ecological aspects of demanding certain compost and mulching materials. It has been brought to the attention of DEQ, with no response that I'm aware of. This is aside from the fact that a large part of the operation is located within State-regulated wetland. I found no record of a 303 permit issued, and if one was, there were certainly better alternatives than sticking it in this wetland. One "compost" area is so wet that the material is decaying anaerobically if anything. A nearby watercourse carries anything that would be released and dissolved in water to the Saint Clair River, just north of Marysville.
Huron Ecologic, LLC
3335 Crooks Road
Rochester Hills, Michigan 48309 USA
phone & fax: 248-852-4682
Huron Ecologic provides wetland delineations, wetland permitting, wetland mitigation design & monitoring, tree inventories, botanical & ecological surveys, natural area protection, nature education, and technical training.