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Subject: VIRGINIA - SHENANDOAH VALLEY HERALD - 4/24/2000 - EPA OFFICIALS QUOTED
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 16:54:06 -0400
"AUDIT SHOWS EPA IS NOT FOLLOWING OWN GUIDELINES"
http://news.svnn.com/index.asp?thePublicationID=2&theDepartmentID=1&theHeadlineID=3712

DR. ROSEMARIE RUSSO of EPA: " EPA failed to conduct research in six
areas vitally  important to determining the public health risks
associated with sludge."

DR. JIM SMITH, EPA EXPERT ON PATHOGENS:; "conceded that the 503 sludge
rule never was subjected to a vigorous risk assessment based on the harmful health
effects which may arise  from bacteria in the sludge."

VICTIM HENRY STAUDINGER SPEAKS OUT:; VA. DEQ. REFUSES TO INVESTIGATE
CLAIMS OF ILLNESS.
"The claims of his and his wife’s illness hours  after the application were not validated by DEQ or
Public Health officials."


Monday, April 24, 2000

 Audit shows EPA is not following own  guidelines
 By Jane Etter

 What many voiced two years ago as being an accountability problem with
 the monitoring of land application of sludge in this county has been echoed
 by a searing report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s own
 Inspector General.

 Two members of the Shenandoah County Alliance Against Sludge attended
 a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science meeting in
 Washington, D.C., Wednesday, March 22, and learned that EPA Deputy
 Assistant Inspector General Michael Simmons had issued a “Biosolids
 Management and Enforcement Audit Report” two days earlier which
 indicates the agency has been lacking in monitoring application permits
 nationwide. “EPA does not have an effective program for ensuring
 compliance with the land application requirements of Part 503. Accordingly,
 while EPA promotes land application, EPA cannot assure the public that
 current land application practices are protective of human health and the
 environment,” according to the audit which did not address the agency’s
 science or risk assessments. “It was just incredible,” stated Henry
 Staudinger of Toms Brook who provided the Shenandoah County Board of
 Supervisors with information concerning the state’s Department of
 Environmental Quality lackadaisical approach to monitoring and inspecting
 land application sites as well as reports required by Part 503. “What we
 have been trying to highlight all this time, this audit validates a lot of it,” said
 Staudinger who became ill after sludge had been spread on fields adjoining
 his farm several years earlier. The claims of his and his wife’s illness hours
 after the application were not validated by DEQ or Public Health officials.
 Staudinger and Charlotte Hughes of Mount Jackson both said the IG’s
 report and the testimony of Stephen M. Kohn, Chairman of the Board of
 Directors of the National Whistleblower Center, gave insight into EPA’s
 mentality when dealing with land application of sludge or biosolids - a
 mentality adopted by the DEQ. Two years ago the board of supervisors
 tackled the issue when Rocco Farm Foods applied through the DEQ to add
 over 1,000 agricultural acres under a current permit to spread biosolids from
 their poultry processing facility west of Edinburg to the acreage in the
 southern part of the county. (DEQ is this state’s agency delegated by EPA
 to issue these permits and to perform the necessary reviews and inspections
 required by Part 503 of the federal law governing land applications.)
 Questions surfaced about just what was in the biosolids coming from the
 plant: fecal coliform from employees’ human waste and heavy metals from
 cleaning agents? Staudinger and others formed the Shenandoah County
 Alliance Against Sludge which collected information from all over the
 country where sludge or biosolids had been accused of being harmful to
 humans or the environment or both. The results of that information, simply
 put, was twofold: One, not enough scientific studies had been conducted to
 insure biosolids were safe from bacteria, viruses, toxic materials and
 undesirable minerals; Two, the DEQ (and the EPA) were not performing the
 necessary inspections and monitoring to insure compliance with Part 503.
 The board enacted an ordinance prohibiting any new applications, but some
 700 acres in the northern part of the county were ‘”grandfathered in” and
 applications continue. Local and state Farm Bureau members, the Virginia
 Cooperative Extension and the state’s Department of Public Health remain
 adamant that the sludge is safe and beneficial for the land - providing
 nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus free of charge to the farmer. Now
 it comes to light that the agency responsible for protecting the environment
 has actually harassed scientists who worked for the agency and questioned
 the viability of biosolids. In 1996, Dr. David Lewis publicly questioned the
 current administration’s commitment to good science, and cited the sludge
 rule as an example of bad science in action,” commented Kohn. His
 statements drew threats and retaliation from his employing agency EPA
 necessitating his seeking relief through the courts. Another EPA scientist, Dr.
 William Marcus, was, according to Kahn “disciplined” as a whistleblower
 much for the same reasons. Testimony given during Lewis’ legal proceedings
 served to validate many of the expressed concerns of the SCAAS.
 Everything from the lack of scientific studies indicating sludge was not
 harmful to humans or the environment to the lack of appropriate ground
 testing and reporting after sludge application under Part 503 had been
 highlighted during these proceedings and indicated both DEQ permitting
 officials and officials from the state’s Public Health Department concerning
 the Rocco permit were taking EPA’s attitude. Local farmers and farm
 organizations and even cooperative extension advocated permits issued
 under Part 503 saying the biosolids are not harmful to humans and are real
 good for the ground. “Joseph C. Cocalis, an industrial hygienist with the
 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for
 Disease Control and Prevention provided sworn testimony based on his
 review of a sludge site… On the basis of his own knowledge and the results
 of prior CDC reports on sludge, Mr. Cocalis testified that ‘exposure to
 sludge containing pathogens can result in illness ‘and that diseases which
 were life threatening’ could result from exposure to sludge permitted to be
 dumped on farm land by EPA.” “The Director of the Ecosystems Research
 Division of EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory, Dr. Rosemarie
 Russo… testified that EPA failed to conduct research in six areas vitally
 important to determining the public health risks associated with sludge.” “Dr.
 James Smith, a Senior Environmental Engineer for the EPA and a pathogen
 expert …conceded that the 503 sludge rule never was subjected to a
 vigorous risk assessment based on the harmful health effects which may arise
 from bacteria in the sludge.” While Kohn’s testimony before the Committee
 of Science on March 22 was to expose the way EPA handles employees
 who question the agency’s policies or advocations, all of the scientists
 involved in the cases highlighted by Kohn were criticizing the Part 503
 sludge rule. “Today, the EPA is not open to critical scientific discourse on
 public health issues related to the 503 sludge rule,” Kohn concluded. EPA
 continues to strongly advocate the land application of sludge, the Virginia
 DEQ strongly advocates the land application of sludge, public health officials
 say sludge is not a threat to human health and many farmers say it’s good for
 the land. The US House of Representatives Committee on Science heard
 quite the contrary March 22. The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors
 questioned those government officials two years ago and listened to a group
 of concerned citizens who had independently researched the question of
 safety to humans and the environment and raised enough “unknowns” the
 board could justify its ban. Now that the sole agency tasked with protecting
 the nation’s environment has been exposed as not doing so as far as sludge
 application is concerned, maybe state officials and others who maintain
 there’s nothing wrong with it and the regulations governing the testing,
 reporting and inspecting, may also have to take a second look.
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