Vermistabilization is the use of worms for the stabilization of waste water sewage sludge. At the optimum ratio of worm biomass to feedstock, in a climate controlled environment, the worms will consume the micro-organisms in the sludge causing a total elimination of human pathogens and a nearly 50% reduction in volume and weight. Worm castings are nutrient rich and mineralize the nitrogen into a slow release, more plant soluble form. Numerous studies have confirmed that worm castings can also suppress many plant pathogens.  Castings from cow manure are sold in the United States as an organic fertilizer and soil amendment for as much as $7.00 per pound.  Presently, demand exceeds supply.
​     W.O.R.M.S. was founded in 2010 by Jerry Scholder in Front Royal, Va. under the tutelage of Dr. Roy Hartenstein, Professor Alumnus, E.S.F. @ State University of New York.  As one of the premier researchers of vermistabilization, Dr. Hartenstein's many published papers on the subject have given the benefits of vermistabilization a worldwide recognition.  Mr. Scholder and Mr. Easter have been attempting to gain EPA acceptance to use the same process in the U.S.   A widespread usage of the vermistabilization process could result in a dramatic decrease of land filling, incineration and land application of malodorous biosolids.     
     The W.O.R.M.S. vermistabilization pilot project in Elkton, VA. will utilize a modified tractor trailer to house the 4' x 12' propane water heated worm bed, various tools, sampling containers and forms needed for record keeping. The 8' x 45' trailer will have solar electric, a roof water harvesting use and storage system, propane heat and an 8' x 8' office. For our purposes the test bed will contain approximately 50 pounds of redworms (Eisenia foetida). The worms will be fed daily with an equal weight of 10-25% solids collected from each of the participating WWTPs. The bed will be maintained at 75-90% moisture along with an optimum temperature range of 55-78 degrees. Our tests and many other scientific studies show that under ideal conditions the elimination of pathogens and subsequent stabilization of the biosolids will occur in a predictable and consistent manner. We are currently developing a QAPP to be reviewed by the EPA Pathogen Equivalency Committee prior to the start of the pilot project. We also have a covered, insulated test bed on a rubber liner at the Town of Elkton WWTP that we are using for some of our proof of concept studies. We will be seeking  equivalency under Title 40 Part 503 PFRP Alternative 6.     The pilot project will begin with an initial test bed loading of approximately 50 pounds of redworms. After a short acclimation period, (TBD by the principal investigator) 5 gallons of biosolids from the Elkton WWTP will be applied in a layer over the worms. Each morning thereafter, 5 gallons of biosolids collected from each of the participating WWTPs will be spread onto the test bed following a schedule that will coordinate with the sludge dewatering days of the plants. Some of the collected applications may be stored up to 5 days to account for days that no plant is dewatering. With equal ratios of worm biomass to biosolids, the worms can ingest all the applied biosolids in 24 hours. At predetermined periods during the test period , composite and grab samples will be pulled from random locations that will each include multiple layers of the biosolids. Each layer represents a different days application of biosolids. We are considering a smaller test run, prior to the actual pilot project, of each plants biosolids to verify that the worms will consume each plants biosolids, though it appears that if the microbes in the reactors do not die, the worms will not die.     We would like to have about 30 participating WWTPs in or near the Shenandoah valley in the project. This will represent a larger population, demonstrate effectiveness with variable plants and will also pre-qualify these WWTPs for a future scale up should they decide to use our process. Most of the WWTP operators contacted thus far have shown an interest in participating in our test. 5 Plants have already signed up for the project.  The Town of Elkton has consented to be the site of full scale testing pending EPA approval.     A seperate pilot project is scheduled to occur at the Cocoa Beach, FL. W.W.T.P. in Summer of 2014.  After full E.P.A. and D.E.Q. approval, W.O.R.M.S. will begin marketing our labor reduced version of vermistabilization as a more economical and environmentally friendly alternative to current methods of biosolid remediation. We plan to market the castings to the agriculture and horticulture industries as well as retail sales to home gardeners. We also plan to continue research into other sustainable methods such as vermicomposting that can be used to reduce the organic waste stream going into our landfills.