Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2005 6:38 PM
Subject: LETTER TO EDITOR
This is in response to Jim Hook's excellent article reporting public opposition in Little Cove to the landspreading of sewage sludge "biosolids".
Farmers should be aware of the risks of spreading this toxic/pathogenic waste on their lands. Lawsuits by sludge victims have been filed in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Florida against sludge farmers. Very few sludge companies provide land owners with the Indemnification Agreements recommended by the US EPA and Cornell University Waste Management Institute, to protect the farmer from claims, costs, liabilities and lawsuits resulting from sludge "biosolids" being spread on his land. In March 2003 the National Farmers Union called for an end to the land spreading of Class B sewage sludge/”biosolids”.
Sewage sludge "biosolids" have contaminated surface and groundwater around the country.
Raleigh, NC had to appropriate $15 million dollars to remedy sludge water pollution problems including running new municipal water lines to the homes of citizens whose wells were contaminated. In Augusta, Georgia, in 2002, a jury awarded a dairy farmer $550,000 for the sickness and death of his cows and the contamination of his land. caused by sewage sludge.
The federal Clean Water Act defines sewage sludge as a "pollutant". The US EPA Toxics Release Inventory reveals that tens of thousands of pounds of toxic industrial pollutants are still being dumped into publicly-owned sewage treatment plants. The wastewater treatment process reconcentrates those hazardous wastes in the sludge "biosolids".
The US EPA allows Class B sewage sludge/”biosolids” to contain significant quantities of human pathogens [up to 2 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of fecal
coliform per kilogram of total solids, dry weight], and slaughter house wastes, mortuary discharges and infectious hospital and institutional wastes, including
disease-causing bacteria, viruses, virulent antibiotic resistant microbes, protozoa, prions, intestinal parasites and parasitic worms; People and animals around the
country have been sickened and some have died from sludge exposure.
Because of all the risks, problems and the lack of sound science, two years ago the US EPA discontinued promoting landspreading of sludge over other disposal options including landfilling and incineration. A message to Mr. Cook: Beware of Trojan Horses bearing "free fertilizer".
Helane Shields, PO Box 1133, Alton, NH 03809 Sludge researcher since 1996 Home phone: 603-875-3842HERE is the original newspaper article, Chambersburg, PA . . . . .. .
Little Cove questions safety of biosolids
By JIM HOOK
LITTLE COVE — Little Cove residents have raised questions about the safety of spreading treated sewage sludge, known as biosolids, on farm fields in the narrow valley where they live in southwest Franklin County.
A group of about 10 residents presented the results of a survey Saturday to Warren Township supervisors, and asked supervisors to regulate the application of biosolids.
Supervisors were reluctant to consider a local ordinance. "It won't go any further than the state (regulations)," township secretary John Ressler said. "It can't be any tougher than the ones in the state."
According to resident David Feagans, 81% of residents responding to a survey indicated that spreading biosolids should be banned, 15% said it was OK but needed stronger local laws, 2% said it was OK and 2% had no comment.
Nearly all said they would not allow biosolids to be spread on their land and the township needs a biosolids ordinance, he said.
"The township is against spreading biosolids," Feagans told supervisors.
About 70% of surveys were returned, and 133 adults responded. The township was home to 334 adults in 2000, according to the U.S. Census.
Supervisors agreed to write to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation about potential traffic hazards where trucks pull into the farm of Mike Cook.
Cook has agreed to allow Maryland-based Mid-Atlantic Synagro to spread biosolids on his 120-acre hayfield off Little Cove Road.
"I want to try it out," Cook said. "If it performs for me it will probably go on next year. I checked into it before I ever considered it. From what I've heard, it's safe."
Neighbors should stop worrying about it, he said.
Cook said he is saving about $100 an acre by avoiding the application of chemical fertilizer and lime. He farms part time and works full time at JLG Industries in McConnellsburg. The farm has been in his family for more than 200 years.
Cook and Synagro do not have a contract, according to Synagro technical services manager Mark Reider. Synagro is not paying Cook.
The biosolids come from sewage treatment plants in the area of Frederick, Md., according to Reider. Trucks haul the material over Interstate 70 and Pa. 456.
In recent years Synagro has been appealing to area farmers for land where biosolids can be applied. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency endorsed land application of treated sewage after ocean dumping was banned.
Some environmentalists and scientists in recent years have challenged the safety of land application.
The issue has worried residents in Montgomery, Peters and other local townships in recent years.
Class B biosolids, which are spread on fields, are 95% pathogen-free human manure. State regulations do not allow it to be spread on fields where food crops are grown.
"There's a slight potential that these pathogens may stay active in this soil," Reider said. "Staph, E. coli — these are the same things you find in your laundry basket."
Access to field where biosolids have been applied is restricted for 30 days, a time when sunlight and soil bacteria are expected to clean up the remaining pathogens.
"You can't guarantee you won't have a storm and it won't wash into the creek," King asked Reider.
Reider said that it has happened five times across the state.
"We are honest people following the law," Reider said. "The state views us as agriculture."
The state and federal governments regulate application of biosolids.
"I'm reluctant to pass an ordinance that's not going to have any teeth in it," Ressler said.
"It does sound like we're hitting up against a brick wall," said Dorian Runt, a member of the citizens' group.
The group plans to meet and consider its alternatives, according to Feagans.
Jim Hook can be reached at 262-4759, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published Nov 8, 2005