Taunton Fats, Oils & Grease (FOG) Program

Taunton FOG Program News! 

Taunton residents and businesses can now recycle used cooking oil at the Taunton landfill!

What is FOG?

FOG or Fats, Oils, and Grease is a byproduct of cooking, food preparation, and clean-up. FOG can be found in meat fats, oils, shortening, butter, margarine, sauces, and dairy products. It also applies to machinery lubricants.

The Problem

When you find yourself driving through the cities and towns of Massachusetts, it may be easy to notice the need to repair or maintain a bridge or road based on the visible age and signs of damage, but most people would not be aware if a city/town sewer system was in need of repair. Many of us go about our day using sinks and flushing toilets without really thinking where that water is going. The sewer system is an important part of a city's infrastructure and can be "out of sight, out of mind" for many people until a sewer line failure occurs. Sewer systems, like in the City of Taunton, are over 100 years old and need to be maintained properly. There are ways in which everyone in the community can help!

FOG has unique properties that make it one of the leading causes of sewer back-ups in the United States. Once FOG leaves a sink drain and travels down the plumbing in your property, it slowly starts to cool. As FOG cools, it begins to congeal and eventually becomes a solid. Once in a solid state, it can create a blockage in the sewer pipes. This can cause sewerage back-ups into your basement or blockages in the public sewer line, resulting in sewerage back-ups and overflows into numerous properties and/or the environment.

In 2008, Penn State Public Broadcasting (WPSU-TV) released a documentary about the country's aging infrastructure.

Liquid Assets

Liquid Assets explores the history, engineering, and political and economic challenges of our water/wastewater infrastructure, and engages communities in local discussion about public water and wastewater issues. The following video is the introduction to this documentary:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) FOG Control Program for Food Service Establishments

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report to Congress in August of 2004 stressing the issue of FOG, stating that 47% of all reported sewer blockages were a result of FOG. In 2007, the EPA launched a FOG Control Program for Food Service Establishments as part of the National Pretreatment Program. View a fact sheet from the EPA about this program (PDF).

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) echo the statements of the EPA, stressing that they recommend that all cities and towns adopt a FOG Control Program. View information from the DEP.

Both the EPA and the DEP believe that sewer blockages from FOG are preventable with the proper education and management practices, and as a result, they have a no tolerance policy on FOG-related sewer failures that cause contamination to the environment. Based on the extent of such contamination, the DEP and EPA can issue warnings and/or fines to the city.

The City of Taunton has over 16,000 private residential properties, over 300 food service establishments, and over 200 auto facilities that can contribute to FOG in our sewer system. If we all do our part to manage FOG, we can keep sewer maintenance/repair costs down, and better protect public health, safety and the environment.

Diseases from Sewage Water Contact

Coming in contact with sewage can have numerous health-related risks. Broken down into four categories, here is a list of some of the most common diseases contracted from exposure to wastewater:

For a more extensive list of diseases, you can go to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

When sewage enters a water body, it has a detrimental impact on the ability of this ecosystem to function. Sewage consists of organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorus. Phosphorus and Nitrogen are necessary for biological growth, yet they are the nutrients that are in the shortest supply in most fresh waters. For this reason they are referred to as "limiting" nutrients (meaning they limit the amount of biological growth). A small increase in the level of phosphorus and/or nitrogen may result in an undesirable chain of events including excessive growth of aquatic plants, low dissolved oxygen and death of certain aquatic animals. What happens is that aquatic plants such as algae grow in excess and cause algal blooms. When the algae die, the process of decomposition depletes oxygen from the water. This results in low dissolved oxygen levels and possibly fish kills.

Phosphate enters the water both naturally and from humans. It naturally occurs in soil and rocks. It may be introduced from human activities such as runoff from fertilized lawns and crop land, failing septic systems, wastewater treatment plants, road salt (which incorporates phosphorus compounds as anti-caking agents), and commercial cleaning operations. Excessive amounts of nitrates can come from sewage, animal manure, run off from fertilized lawns and industrial discharges than contain corrosion inhibitors. When large amounts of Algae grow in an area, it's called an algae bloom. These algae blooms can cause health risks as well. 

The Taunton River now has a federal designation of "Wild and Scenic." Read more from Boston.com.

The History

In 2006, the City of Taunton began a 12-year contract with Veolia Water North America to manage and restore the city's aging sewer collection system. Veolia Water has managed the city's 8.4-million-gallon-per-day wastewater treatment plant since 1998.

In 2006, the City of Taunton adopted a FOG Control Program (PDF)

The Goal

The mission of the City of Taunton FOG Control Program is to protect public health and safety, the environment, and the city sewer system from FOG-related sewer blockages and overflows by:

Providing FOG educational materials to the general public and extensive training to Food Service Establishments, increasing awareness about FOG, promoting better management practices for FOG, and identifying ways that everyone can participate in the FOG Program!

Reviewing all new construction plans for Food Service Establishments to ensure that the FOG system is properly sized and meets all federal, state, and local regulation requirements, and inspecting the system during construction to ensure that the FOG system was installed properly.

Conducting routine inspections on all FOG systems in existing Food Service Establishments to ensure compliance with the FOG Control Program.

Continuing to grow and strengthen our lines of communication regarding FOG and always looking for new developments in FOG control and management, making the City of Taunton one of the leaders in FOG management.

The Team

There are many people in the city that are working together every day to ensure that FOG is being properly managed. Some of the main contributors are:

The Future

The City of Taunton is always looking to the future in search of new ideas, technologies, and innovative ways of producing alternative energy. Biodiesel is an alternative environmentally-friendly fuel that can be used in any diesel engine and is produced using used cooking oils. As we look at the growth of the FOG Control Program, there is a feasibility for constructing a biodiesel processor in the future with a goal to produce biodiesel to power all of the city's diesel vehicles and equipment from used cooking oils supplied by our residents and Food Service Establishments.

View more information on biodiesel processing.

Download a handout on biodiesel released from the EPA (PDF).