Sewage Sludge in the News

December 7, 2011

  • Three Florida Utilities Penalized for Improperly Disposing of Sewage Sludge: According to the Florida Independent (12/6), the facilities were penalized for “failing to provide biosolids reports and/or otherwise failing to comply with Section 503 of the CWA covering requirements for land disposal of sewage sludge.” Utilities in Plantation, Lake City and Starke “were each fined $900 for their failure to comply.”
  • Toledo, Ohio Opts to Spread More Contaminated Sludge: According to the industry publication American Recycler (Dec. 2011), “N-Viro International Corporation (NVIC) announced that after 22 years of providing the City of Toledo with a Class A biosolids program, Toledo City Council with an 8 to 3 vote chose a Class B blending and disposal option. The decision provides for approximately 50,000 wet tons of Class B biosolids to be dumped and blended on a 70 acre site located within a Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) within the Maumee Bay at the westernmost point of Lake Erie.” There were strong objections to this choice because of the potential for environmental damage. NVIC CEO/President Timothy R. Kasmoch also criticized the decision, remarking, “A well managed Class B program can be beneficial. I do not believe this is a well managed program. In fact I believe this decision is completely detrimental to the health and welfare of the Maumee Bay and Lake Erie because of the potential of pathogen leaching and phosphorus contamination resulting in elevated toxic algae growth. . . . In my opinion, the City of Toledo moved its biosolids program in the opposite direction in one hasty decision.”
  • Arizona Newspaper Spins Sludge as “Sweet”-smelling “Play-Doh” or “Sod”: In a spin piece that reads like a review of a family-style restaurant rather than a description of what’s done with human and industrial waste in the city of Cottonwood, Arizona, the Cottonwood Journal Extra profiles the “Cottonwood Wastewater Reclamation Plant” (11/29). The article begins, “There are many ways to describe what the Cottonwood Wastewater Reclamation Plant processes, but city workers call the end product ‘biosolids.’ Farms across the state call it fertilizer. Utilities Administrative Manager Roger Biggs calls it Play-Doh and produces a sealed plastic baggie containing a clump of the thick, dark mud to prove his point. It moves between the fingers like Play-Doh. It smells like fresh-turned sod. It grows nonfood crops in abundance, like at a farm in Camp Verde and another in Buckeye, Biggs said. It is, in fact, the B-grade product of the city’s primary reclamation plant, located at the 1100 block of West Mingus Avenue.” The plant produces “A-grade effluent,” which “is pumped to irrigate about 80 acres of city-owned land,” and “as much as 40 tons of [Class B] biosolids from the site per day,” which is “trucked to private nonfood farms as fertilizer.”
  • Institute That Used Poor Black Baltimore Families as Human Guinea Pigs Now Sued for Knowingly Exposing Black Children to Lead Poisoning: A Kennedy Krieger Institute investigator was involved in the 2000 study that exposed nine black Baltimore families to “Class A” Baltimore sewage sludge in exchange for food coupons. According to the New York Times (9/15), the same Institute is now accused of “knowingly exposing black children as young as a year old to lead poisoning in the 1990s as part of a study exploring the hazards of lead paint. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that more than 100 children were endangered by high levels of lead dust in their homes despite assurances from the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the houses were ‘lead safe.’” (Thanks to Sludge Watch‘s Maureen Reilly for the tip.)

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