Between 1989 and 1999 Kansas City, Missouri assured the neighbors and farmers of its sludge disposal site that it was a very safe place. In 1999, Kansas City went to court to shut down public access to farms near its 1,200 acre sludge disposal site. City attorneys told the court that federal and state law required the site be restricted to public access. The court agreed that a gate could be placed a public street some 500 feet from the city's fenced disposal site. See Clay County Missouri politics for the rest of the story.
This paper examines the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) policy of sanctioning the beneficial use of sewage sludge on farmland as a cheap fertilizer and soil conditioner in light of recent revelations of human and animal health problems associated with the use of sludge. Some environmental organizations and scientists are concerned with its deleterious effects on public health. The paper looks at the existence, nature and causality of the illnesses and fatalities that can arise from the use and disposal of sewage sludge under current EPA guidelines.
THE FULL TEXT OF THE PAPER Congress mandated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) and later the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 (HSWA) to prevent the development of new toxic waste sites such as the toxic waste dump site in New York that was converted into a housing development called Love Canal. The site had to be evacuated, of course, and by 1979 the clean up cost had exceeded twenty-seven million dollars. Area residents had filed suits for health and property damages in excess of two billion dollars. Unfortunately, the RCRA and the HSWA have not prevented the exposure to toxic waste from a new direction. This new danger is toxic contaminated sludge
BETRAYED .: One of the selling points in the EPA/WEF's promotion to farmers is their claim that the farmer and his family will not be harmed by the use of sewage sludge and there will be no liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Superfund Act), if the Part 503 is followed and sludge use is considered to be a "normal application of fertilizer.
Lacking the support of its own scientists, the EPA sought approval from the general public. Public perception of sludge, which was overwhelmingly negative, had to be overcome. So the agency commissioned Powell Tate, a public relations firm, to develop "a national communications plan for the promotion of land application of biosolids." By renaming sludge "biosolids," officials hoped to raise new connotations.
Toxic Sludge -- Still Not Good For You! Source: Reuters, July 4, 2002 Seven years ago our book, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, broke the story of how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was disposing of toxic sewage sludge by calling it "biosolids, a natural organic fertilizer," and allowing it to be dumped on farmland across the US. Today 70% of the nation's toxic sewage sludge is spread on cropland, a major environmental scandal and a threat to public health. Reuters reports that a National Academy of Sciences panel, led by Thomas Burke of Johns Hopkins University's department of health policy, urged the EPA to assess the risks from sludge. "There is a serious lack of health-related information about populations exposed to treated sewage sludge," Burke said. Meanwhile EPA microbiologist David Lewis, who has broken ranks with the agency's official pro-sludge position, has published a study of people living near areas where sewage sludge is used as fertilizer, showing that they are often "plagued with infections" and symptoms including burning eyes, burning lungs, skin rashes and other symptoms of chemical irritation. Notwithstanding the courage of whistleblowers like Lewis, however, asking the EPA to investigate sewage sludge is like asking Enron to investigate itself. As citizen activists like Jim Bynum have proven, the EPA has been the driving force behind dumping toxic sludge on farmland and then harassing and belittling victims of sludge poisoning.