TUSCALOOSA, ALA. — Civil and Environmental Engineers, the CFM Group, announced that they, along with members of the Gulf Coast Agricultural and Seafood Co-op, elected officials and guests, broke ground May 27 on an eco-friendly seafood by-product processing facility that will ultimately provide products for commercial application to the fertilizer, poultry, and pharmaceutical industries. The facility will also create new jobs in Bayou La Batre, Ala. CFM Group was named project engineer in 2009.

The U.S. Department of Commerce jointly awarded the Alabama Farmers Market Authority and the Mobile County Commission a $3.2 million grant to help pay for the facility. Total cost of the project due for completion in January 2011 is $6 million. White-Spunner Construction, Inc. (WSC), based in Mobile, Ala., is the general contractor.

The 13,000-square-foot facility will have eco-friendly aspects, including solar collectors, use of natural lighting, and the capability to produce bio-genic methane to power the plant.

The plant will receive shrimp and crab hulls from local seafood processors then remove moisture from the material by a screw press system before drying it in a highly efficient gas-fired air dryer that operates using biogas generated in the process. The dried material will be containerized and sold initially as an organic fertilizer. The plant is capable of processing more than 5,500 tons of shrimp and crab waste annually.

The facility will not have a wastewater discharge, and it will generate a significant portion of its energy requirements internally. This will be accomplished with solar collectors to produce heat, geothermal energy, and digestion of wastewater to produce methane. The plant also cleans and recycles process water and stormwater for reuse in production. The site, which is a former dredge spoil disposal area, will also be managed as a bird and wildlife sanctuary.

The facility has been designed to allow for the application of LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. This facility will be one of the first manufacturing facilities in the United States to pursue a LEED rating.

“The cost savings to member companies to have a state-of-the-art facility like this on the Gulf is tremendous. Collectively, we currently pay nearly $250,000 a year for transportation and landfill fees. In an industry still reeling from Katrina, and now the BP catastrophe in the Gulf, we’re looking for ways to operate more efficiently and provide jobs in the community,” said Walton Kraver, Sr., CEO of Jubilee Foods and Chairman of the Co-op.

Partners in the initiative are the U.S. Department of Commerce, the State of Alabama, the State of Alabama Farmers Market Authority, the city of Bayou La Batre, the Mobile County Commission, and members of the Gulf Coast Agricultural and Seafood Co-op.

“It’s a great project that will solve environmental and economic issues,” said Don Wambles, director of the Farmers Market Authority. “The Co-op will be able to sell the by-product initially for fertilizer, and hopefully, eventually to the pharmaceutical industry for the chitin inherent to the crab and shrimp hulls. The environment will benefit because the crab and shrimp waste will no longer have to be land-filled, and seafood processors will forego those fees immediately adding to their bottom line.”