Land application of biosolids unsafe
Ben Davis and George Conley are fully justified to be concerned about biosolids being applied in their neighborhood. This unpredictable contaminated waste is not an environmentally friendly fertilizer, but a mixture of human and industrial waste that has sickened people, degraded soil, wiped out prize winning dairy herds and leached into people’s wells.
In 1986 Congress, through the Domestic Sewage Exclusion, legalized the discharge of hazardous waste into sewage treatment plants, including tetrachloroethylene, methylene chloride, chlorophenols, benzene, cyanide, plus scores of carcinogens and endocrine disrupter that damage organisms in parts per trillion. Worse, processing sludge to a Class A material may kill easily destroyed pathogens, but encourages the growth of superbugs that can survive in soil for many months.
Fifteen years ago, internationally renowned soil scientists at the Cornell Waste Management Institute concluded that the current rules governing land application do not protect human health, agriculture or the environment. After the 2002 groundbreaking research of David Lewis, then a top-ranking EPA scientist who documented illnesses and deaths linked to sludge exposure, the National Academy of Sciences reassessed biosolids use and warned that the entire U.S. program is based on outdated science.
The NAS panel recommended dozens of changes; none of which have been implemented. There is no credible science supporting this practice. Major food processing companies, like Heinz, Del Monte, Western Growers, Kraft and Nestle do not accept produce grown on land that has been treated with biosolids. No environmental group and many farm groups oppose the agricultural use of biosolids.
Finally, odor is not just a nuisance, but a serious health problem as this pathogenic decomposing mixture triggers asthma attacks and other life-threatening respiratory ailments.
For documentation visit www.sludgefacts.org.
Caroline Snyder, Ph.D., North Sandwich, N.H.