Johnston taxpayers will front the cost of upgrades that will allow the county’s largest private employer to treat its sewage more efficiently.
The county will spend about $1 million to expand its sewer system to take on a stronger flow from Grifols Therapeutics near Clayton.
The company, which processes blood plasma at its plant on U.S. 70 Business, uses its own equipment to pre-treat and remove solids from its industrial discharge. Under a proposed agreement, Grifols will continue to pre-treat its waste at a treatment plant the company is building, but the county will be responsible for solids removal.
The change means Grifols won’t have to expand its on-site treatment plant every time the company expands its production operations, said Grifols spokesman Chris Healey. “It will make us more competitive for future expansion by eliminating the need for this next step, especially the solids removal,” Healey said.
Sewage from area manufacturers goes to the county’s East Clayton Industrial Area Pump Station. From there, the water is routed to separate sewage-treatment plants operated by the Town of Clayton and Johnston County.
In the future, the pump station will continue to send water to both treatment plants, but the county will receive the stronger flow from Grifols, said Chandra Coats, director of Johnston County public utilities.
Coats said the county will spend the $1 million on electrical improvements at the pump station and on piping modifications. Plans also call for chemical-feed upgrades at the county’s sewage-treatment plant near Smithfield.
When the work is complete, Grifols will pay a $12,500 monthly fee over four years to offset a portion of the costs. After 48 months, the company will continue to pay a $5,000 monthly surcharge, which Clayton will keep in reserve for future improvements.
Under a proposed inter-local agreement, the county will be able to request money from the town’s reserve fund, and the county and town will split any extra dollars from the Grifols surcharge.
Also, Grifols will pay a “high-strength surcharge” $1.95 per 1,000 gallons and an additional fee when chemical levels in its sewage exceed agreed-upon standards, according to the agreement.
Clayton Town Manager Steve Biggs said Grifols had concerns about meeting long-term demands for sewer service and approached the town about making a deal.
Higher demand for the company’s protein therapies has led to a number of local expansions at the Clayton plant. The company, which also has plants in Los Angeles and Barcelona, Spain, opened a $370 million, 155,000-square-foot warehouse in Clayton earlier this year. That additional storage space will allow Grifols to double its blood-plasma production in Johnston County.
Grifols’ products are for people with rare genetic diseases and life-threatening infections.
“They are our largest private employer,” Biggs said. “Anytime they add capacity in terms of their production capacity, that also adds new jobs. We want the Clayton facility for Grifols to be their No. 1 facility.”
Johnston County Commissioners are expected to award a bid for the construction work on Sept. 25.
“It’s going to benefit that entire east Clayton industrial area,” said Coats, the public utilities director. “Other industries can benefit from the upgrades to the station as well.”
Grifols, Novo Nordisk and Hospira make up the core of a cluster of industries just east of Clayton. For those companies, adequate water and sewer are essential assets, said Chris Johnson, the county’s director of economic development.
“We see the benefit of investing in this, not only for existing industries but other pharmaceuticals as well,” Johnson said.