Filed under: Sewage Sludge
According to a local publication in Hinsdale, Illinois, the Chicago metropolitan area has opted to replace a soccer field’s soil with “biosolids” — dried sewage sludge — in several batches and re-sod. Apparently two other local soccer fields have also been sludged. Why? It’s cheaper than “good, new black dirt.”
December 18, 2012
Don’t fancy the thought of your spinach and carrots being grown in sewage sludge?
Neither does Mario Ciasulli, a semi-retired electrical engineer living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Mario likes to cook, and enjoys good food. When he found out last year about the practice of spreading dried and heated human and industrial waste as “fertilizer” on food crops, he was upset. (more…)
December 18, 2012
- by Rebekah Wilce
Did you know that genetic engineering (GE) “is helping to improve the health of the Earth and the people who call it home”? A trade group funded by Monsanto wants your kids to believe it.
The Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) has published a kids’ book on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that purports to give kids “a closer look at biotechnology. You will see that biotechnology is being used to figure out how to: 1) grow more food; 2) help the environment; and 3) grow more nutritious food that improves our health.”
If that book doesn’t appeal to you, you could try a nanotechnology coloring book made by a company that produces such things as “colloidal silver nanoparticles” used in antibacterial products that find their way into the water supply and can be poisonous to the human system. It compares nanotechnologies like these silvers to “the smell of baking cookies.”
Or perhaps a “biosolids” workbook made by wastewater treatment facilities? It directs kids to grow sunflowers in toxic sewage sludge to see how they grow. (more…)
August 22, 2012
(Amherst County, Virginia) According to the Amherst New Era-Progress (June 13, 2012):
The county’s planning director, Jeremy Bryant, told supervisors that a company plans to spread sludge, also known as biosolids, in Amherst County sometime this year. Only one property in the county has been approved for this form of fertilizer.
In a 2009 letter to the Department of Environmental quality, the supervisors opposed the dumping, spreading or discharge of biosolids on land adjacent to the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail.
Synagro informed the county that it intends to spread biosolids, also referred to as sludge, on land owned by Wesley Wright in northern Amherst County. The 132 acres slated for spreading is adjacent to the trail, which begins at Piney River in Nelson County and follows the river nearly 2 miles to Roses Mill in Amherst County, according to officials.
The supervisors opposed the spreading of sludge near the trail, based on the smell and potential health risks.
Synagro — which, as a corporation owned by the Carlyle Group, now has a “junk” corporate credit rating — “intends” to spread sludge wherever it wants, over the opposition of county officials that it “informs” of its intent.
June 14, 2012
- by Sara Jerving
A trade association known for using the terms “compost,” “organic,” and “biosolids” to describe sewage sludge is investing in a new public relations campaign to influence policymakers and the public. The US Composting Council (USCC), which was founded by the disposable diaper industry, will be expanding its long-standing efforts to “rebrand” sewage sludge, which is increasingly disposed of on agriculture crops and through garden centers without telling the public that their food is being grown in medical, industrial, and human waste.
Earlier this year, the USCC announced that it hired a PR firm, Colehour + Cohen, to help with the rebranding efforts and that it will also be increasing lobbying efforts. (more…)
March 16, 2012
- by Rebekah Wilce
Good news! The sewage treatment plant in Calabasas, California has been giving away free sludge! Free sludge, you say? That potent stew of human and industrial sewage sludge laced with flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceutical residues, phthalates, industrial solvents, resistant pathogens, and perfluorinated compounds? “Composted” sludge, which can bioaccumulate in plants grown in sludge-contaminated soil? Oh, goodie. (more…)
March 6, 2012
- by Sara Jerving
Nine months before tens of thousands flocked to a popular music festival in Austin, Texas, the concert park grounds were spread with sewage sludge. It was autumn of 2009, and sewage sludge was used as a “fertilizer” to make the grass — parched from prior dry seasons — green. But it rained the weekend of the festival, turning the grounds into a huge mud pit, with a stench that one concert-goer described as the smell of “pig manure,” with the consistency of pudding.
Following the event, several attendees reported rashes and other maladies that they believe were contracted from coming in contact with the churned up human and industrial waste. The local media was abuzz with stories of the festival’s epidemiological aftermath.
The city of Austin markets its sewage sludge as “organic” compost under the trade name “Dillo Dirt” — in tribute to the native nine-banded Armadillo. The sludge qualifies for “unrestricted use,” which means it has been “cleared” for use even on vegetable gardens (although there used to be a warning printed on the bag suggesting gardeners not use it on vegetable gardens). There are some 265 facilities across the country that handle hazardous sludge and many of them are attempting to market sewage sludge as “compost.”
Two years have passed since the Austin City Limits (ACL) 2009 festival at Zilker Park and those affected have few answers about what happened to their bodies after the event. (more…)
March 2, 2012
- King County, Washington Brands Sludge Product and Pushes it at Northwest Flower and Garden Show: According to a press release reprinted in the West Seattle Herald (2/8), “King County’s clean-water utility has announced the launch of Loop, its new biosolids brand, at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center, Feb. 8-12. . . . ‘As an urban farming collective, it only makes sense that we use an urban-derived compost. We know that using Loop not only helps us grow great crops, it’s also the right thing to do,’ said Sean Conroe, founder of Seattle-based urban farming collective Alleycat Acres, which uses GroCo compost made with Loop to fertilize and amend their city farm sites.” ”Biosolids,” or treated human and industrial waste, include many hazardous chemicals. New studies found steroid hormone runoff from agricultural test plots smeared with sludge. Seattle cancer patient and naturopath, Dr. Molly Linton, has raised concerns about pharmaceutical residues such as the drugs in her chemo therapy making their way into sewer systems, and University of Washington Researcher John Kissel shares those concerns, according to King 5 News (2/7). The Food Rights Network supports urban farming, but doesn’t support the growing of any food in toxic sludge.
- Calabasas, California Residents Encouraged to Stock Up on Free Sludge! According to the Calabasas Patch (2/6), “Built in the early 1990s, Rancho Las Virgenes uses a highly-automated process to convert biosolids removed during the water reclamation process into U.S. EPA graded “Class A – Exceptional Quality” compost that has become a favorite of professional landscapers and home gardeners across the region. After nearly 20 years of production, some of the machinery and the buildings that house compost production must undergo significant maintenance and upgrades.” So the facility is urging residents to come get some free sludge quick, to help them clean out before they fix up.
Beginning in 2007, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) began sporadic free giveaways of its sewage sludge. The San Francisco sludge was processed by the Synagro company (along with sludge from 8 other counties) and given away as free “organic biosolids compost” to gardeners. (more…)
February 9, 2012
Updated on Thursday, January 26, to add a late-breaking research article:
- “Measurement of Flame Retardants and Triclosan in Municipal Sewage Sludge and Biosolids” (Environment International, April 2012 volume): “The biosolids [from California and North Carolina] and SRM 2781 were analyzed for PBDEs, hexabromobenzene (HBB), 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane (BTBPE), 2-ethylhexyl 2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate (TBB), di(2-ethylhexyl)-2,3,4,5-tetrabromophthalate (TBPH), the chlorinated flame retardant Dechlorane Plus (syn- and anti-isomers), and the antimicrobial agent 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol (triclosan). PBDEs were detected in every sample analyzed, and ΣPBDE concentrations ranged from 1750 to 6358 ng/g dry weight. Additionally, the PBDE replacement chemicals TBB and TBPH were detected at concentrations ranging from 120 to 3749 ng/g dry weight and from 206 to 1631 ng/g dry weight, respectively. Triclosan concentrations ranged from 490 to 13,866 ng/g dry weight. The detection of these contaminants of emerging concern in biosolids suggests that these chemicals have the potential to migrate out of consumer products and enter the outdoor environment” (from article abstract, with emphasis added). For more on sewage sludge contaminants, see SourceWatch.
- Pennsylvania’s William Bispels Runs for the State House of Representatives on Anti-Sewage Sludge Spreading Platform (BCTV, 1/25)
- “Cadmium Stress” from Sludge Spreading Negatively Affects Plant Growth and Development (CO2 Science, 1/25): For more on the presence of cadmium in sewage sludge, see SourceWatch.
- Sludge Pelletizing Plant Explodes in Florida, Worker Injured (Palm Beach Post, 1/24, and Waste & Recycling News, 1/24)
- Pennsylvania Compost Program Stench Causes Outcry: According to the MarpleNewtown Patch (1/24) and HaverfordHavertown Patch (1/20), the program composts local leaves, but the unholy stench has neighbors upset enough to demand the program be ended. The two neighboring townships, Havertown and Marple, Pennsylvania, hired well-known sewage sludge consultant Craig Coker, to help reduce the odor. Coker is on the Board of the sludge front group the U.S. Composting Council and a former member of the sludge industry trade group the Water Environment Federation‘s (WEF’s) “Biosolids” Management Committee and, in 2008, wrote an editorial (or “advertorial,” in PR jargon) for the Roanoke Times in which he advocated the safety of treated, minimally regulated sewage sludge as fertilizer. Are the townships “composting” human and industrial waste sludge with their leaves? (more…)
January 25, 2012
- Paragould Light, Water and Cable Required to Enclose Sewage Sludge Discharge Area (Arkansas) (Paragould Daily Press, 1/17/12)
- Charlotte, North Carolina Spins Sludge Spreading as “Resource Recovery” and “Nutrient Recycling” (Charlotte, NC, 2011)
- Union City, Indiana to Pay Fine for Arsenic Pollution from Spreading Sludge (Star Press, 1/14/12)
- Culpeper County, Virginia Denies Permit for ReCyc Systems Storage Facility (more…)
January 18, 2012