Letter to the Editor – Biosolid Risk for Farmland

Letter to the Editor:

Biosolids do not Belong on Agricultural Land.

Re: Berryville’s new sewage treatment plant (3/23 article) The plant’s new filtering system will remove more pollutants from the waste water, which is commendable and what sewage treatment plants are meant to do. But the down side of this improved process is that MORE of the removed pollutants will end up in the resulting biosolids. Sewage sludge does not just contain toxic metals. A recent nation-wide survey of samples indicates that virtually all biosolids contain toxic and persistent synthetic chemical compounds, none of which are currently regulated. According to the latest National Academy of Sciences biosolids report, the VA DEP sludge policies are based on flawed risk assessment models, outdated science, or no science at all. Does it really make sense to spend millions of dollars to remove pollutants from sewage, and then transfer these same pollutants back on the land where they can impact people, live stock, soil, groundwater, and crops?

Biosolids is probably the most pollutant– rich material created by modern society. It does not belong on the land where we grow our food or graze our animals.

For accurate information about the risks linked to bioslids use, visit www.sludgefacts.org


Caroline Snyder Ph.D.

Emeritus professor

Rochester Institute of Technology

458 Whiteface Rd.

N.Sandwich NH 03259


  1. Not to mention the stuff stinks to high heaven

  2. I could not agree with you more. Thank you

  3. Landspreading of sewage sludge “biosolids” is a dangerous activity.

    Dr. Claudio Soto, Univ/Tex recently proved what other scientists have been saying for years – Alzheimers is a prion disease (similar to mad cow disease- US epidemic = 6 million victims): http://www.alzheimers-prion.com/

    Alzheimer’s victims shed infectious prions in their blood, saliva, mucous, urine and feces. Sewage treatment does NOT inactivate prions. To the contrary, it reconcentrates the infectious prions in the sewage sludge being applied on home gardens, US cropland, grazing fields and dairy pastures, putting humans, family pets, wildlife and livestock at risk.

    Other prion contaminated wastes discharged to sewers include rendering plants (which process remains of 2 million potentially BSE infected downer cows each year), slaughterhouses, embalmers and morticians, biocremation, taxidermists, butcher shops, veterinary and necropsy labs, hospitals, landfill leachates (where CWD infected and other carcasses are disposed),

    Drinking water is at risk for prions if it comes from a surface source (river or lake) which receives treated sewage effluent.

    EPA NATIONAL WATER RESEARCH COMPENDIUM 2009-2014 lists PRIONS eight times as an EMERGING CONTAMINANT of concern in sewage sludge “biosolids” , water and manure:

    Renown prion researcher, Joel Pedersen, University of Wisconsin, found that prions become 680 times more infective in certain soils:


    Oral Transmissibility of Prion Disease Is Enhanced by Binding to Soil Particles
    Dr. Pedersen and associates found that anaerobic digestion sewage treatment did NOT inactivate prions in sludge. “Persistence of Pathogenic Prion Protein during Simulated Wastewater Treatment Processes”

    ” Our results suggest that if prions were to enter municipal wastewater treatment systems, most of the agent would partition to activated sludge solids, survive mesophilic anaerobic digestion, and be present in
    treated biosolids. Land application of biosolids containing prions could represent a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results argue for excluding inputs of prions to municipal wastewater treatment.”

    “Prions could end up in wastewater treatment plants via slaughterhouse drains, hunted game cleaned in a sink, or humans with vCJD shedding prions in their urine or faeces, Pedersen says”

    In the July 3, 2010 issue of VETERINARY RECORD, Dr. Pedersen stated: “Finally, the disposal of sludge was considered to represent the greatest risk of spreading (prion) infectivity to other premises.”

    Helane Shields, PO Box 1133, Alton,, NH 03809 hshields@tds.net 603-875-3842 http://www.alzheimers-prions.com/ http://www.sludgevictims.com

  4. River Watcher says:

    Real people are sick and dying across this Country from exposure to sewage sludge pollutants in biosolids.

    Part 503.9(t) Pollutant is an organic substance, an inorganic substance, a combination of organic and
    inorganic substances, or a pathogenic organism that, after discharge and upon exposure, ingestion,
    inhalation, or assimilation into an organism either directly from the environment or indirectly by ingestion
    through the food chain, could, on the basis of information available to the Administrator of EPA, cause
    death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions
    (including malfunction in reproduction), or physical deformations in either organisms (humans) or
    offspring (children) of the organisms.





  5. Bville-Bud says:

    I agree they have no place on our fields, our foods, or in our well water.

  6. Naked Truth says:

    If it walks like duck…..

  7. They had a hell of a fight down in Campbell County Va over this stuff. “Top grade” fertilizer shipped all the way from New York City to local tobacco farms. Of course most people were asking if it was so good, why didn’t New york keep it?

    Unfortunately, the tobacco farmers run the county, much like large land owners do here, and they voted for the stuff. It’s a liltle early to see the effects, but it’s funny that animals can’t graze on the land for a month after it’s applied.

    I’m pretty sure someone close to Rt 7 laid this stuff down last spring. You could smell it from the road. If it was biosolids, I would hope the country would change whatever ordinance allows it


    • River Watcher says:

      It’s put in the field next to Nall’s. It’s been so bad there I couldn’t shop at the farm market, I had to leave!

  8. White Post Voter says:

    This foul-smelling stuff is being sprayed onto a field near Long Branch at this very moment. I have just driven by the field on my way home.


  9. Concerned Citizen says:

    We live here in the beautiful Clarke countryside to enjoy clean air and clean water and to be far removed from big city pollution and problems.
    But …the more I read about what is happening to our own, local enviornment: biosolids, sludge, possible well water pollution, river pollution, the more alarming it is.

    Seems like we should all read and take interest and protest local BIOSOLIDS- SLUDGE use and also take an interest and protest the pollution to our waters and the Shenandoah. Virginia waterways are ranked among the most polluted Rivers in the US. Lets all write our representatives to express our concern about our water and land pollution. Let´s tell our elected representatives to make it their priority to control and reduce pollution, stop Biosolid use on agriculture land and to clean up the the Sheandoah River.

    FairfaxTimes.com: Study: Virginia’s waterways among most polluted in U.S.: http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20120323/NEWS/703239603/1117/study-virginia-s-waterways-among-most-polluted-in-us&template=fairfaxTimes

  10. Perhaps it’s time to bring this up to the BOS. Of course, if it’s large landowners that are using this stuff, it’s going to be the same issue and same fight as it was in southern virginia. The landowners get free fertilizer that cuts their costs, but in doing so introduce something that not only smells like @$$, but has potentially damaging effects to the food chain and environment

  11. River Watcher says:

    I won’t get in to great details.
    I am surrounded by farm fields that use this sludge! It has been affecting myself and my spouse.
    Our first spring 2009 is when it all began. All symptoms we have were chalked up to be allergies and the flu like symptoms from being over worked. The eye infections have been upsetting my life, I get 3 -4 a yr.The uncontrollable runny nose lasts from Apr-Nov. I kept saying there isn’t enough trees here to get allergies this bad and all of a sudden!
    My eye doctor said something in the air here must be bothering you like pollution.

    I wrote many people including the women who sent this and Jeff Keeble. My spouse has sent out many emails to officials from around the state. I can’t begin to tell you all how angry and upset we both are.

    I asked many people what that smell was and believe me I was never told it was sewage sludge.

    This must be stopped! I’m not allowing this to ruin our lives.

  12. This quote was taken from the Virginia JLARC Report cited below. I seriously doubt much has changed, either here or elsewhere, to correct these findings.

    Excerpted text from Preface –
    “During 2004, more than 232,000 dry tons of biosolids were applied to approximately 50,000 agricultural acres in the State. However, this review showed that little on-site over-sight is being conducted. For example, VDH performed only 19 routine inspections during 2004, while more than 1,100 land applications were made. EPA has conducted one on-site inspection since 2002 in the region that includes Virginia. And despite efforts to in-crease oversight at the local level, few counties have an effective testing and monitoring program. A principal finding of the study is that VDH should increase the frequency of the routine inspections it conducts. State law could be amended to authorize the use of the currently underutilized biosolids fee fund to pay for costs associated with increased VDH oversight.
    On behalf of the Commission staff, I would like to express our appreciation to the Virginia Department of Health staff and local government staff for their assistance during this study.”
    —- Philip A. Leone, Director (November 17, 2005)


    Review of Land Application of Biosolids in Virginia


  13. River Watcher says:

    On March 27th Citizens for Sludge-Free Land sent a letter to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and US EPA Region 3 that information provided to Virginia landowners about using sewage sludges as fertilizer is deceptive. Land application permits are being granted in several Virginia counties without informing farmers of the serious risks associated with this practice. The VA code specifies, that to be valid, these permits can only be granted with the informed consent of the landowner.

    The Federal Clean Water Act defines sewage sludge as a pollutant. Most of the pollutants that sewage treatment plants remove from wastewater concentrate in the resulting sludge. Exempt from hazardous and solid waste laws, sludge is being spread on agricultural land, despite mounting scientific evidence and field reports that using this contaminated waste as a cheap fertilizer is neither safe, beneficial, nor sustainable.


  14. River Watcher says:

    How Carlyle Group-owned Synagro is Hurting Our Communities

    With little fanfare, in April of 2007 Washington D.C.-based Carlyle Group completed its buyout of Synagro
    Technologies, Inc. for $772 million. Part of a fund dedicated to purchasing critical infrastructure, Carlyle calls
    investments like these, “A true win-win proposition.” But when it comes to Synagro and its products, communities
    stand to lose.

    The Carlyle Group and Sewer Sludge: Striking it rich on “brown gold”?

    Synagro, headquartered in Houston, Texas, specializes in processing municipal waste products, transporting the
    resulting “sewer sludge” and distributing it for land application. The company primarily services municipal
    governments, and business has been booming. Between 2002 and 2006, revenues grew by over 26%. When the
    Carlyle Group came along, the backlog of contracts alone was worth an estimated $2.1 billion with an average of 14
    years remaining including renewal options. After about 3 months of negotiations in late 2006 and early 2007, the
    Carlyle Group committed $277 million, and used $540 million in debt to finance the takeover.

    Communities should be alarmed by the fact that with private equity ownership comes less transparency and
    accountability to the communities in which Synagro operates. The takeover came just in time to squelch the
    momentum of a shareholder resolution asking Synagro to report on any toxins, molds, pathogens, hazardous waste
    and hazardous air pollutants released by the company’s Hunts Point, NY, smokestacks. After the buyout, of course,
    the newly private Synagro is no longer accountable to public shareholders.

    “”Sewer sludge produced by the Carlyle Group’s Synagro Technologies has been accused of causing serious health
    problems. According to news reports, several individuals filed suit against a Synagro subsidiary in 2006 alleging that
    soon after applications of Synagro products on a neighboring property, they started suffering from running noses,
    burning eyes, even pneumonia and lung scarring.””


  15. River Watcher says:

    BECAUSE the Federal Clean Water Act defines sewage sludge as a “pollutant” [33 U.S.C.1362(6)];

    BECAUSE the Harper-Collins Dictionary of Environmental Science describes sludge as: “A viscous, semisolid mixture of bacteria and virus-laden organic matter, toxic metals, synthetic organic chemicals, and settled solids removed from domestic and industrial waste water at sewage treatment plants”;

    BECAUSE the US EPA acknowledges that the pollutants and pathogenic organisms in sewage sludge “. . . upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation, or assimilation into an organisms either directly from the environment or indirectly by ingestion through the food chain, could, on the basis of information available to the Administrator of EPA, cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions (including malfunction in reproduction), or physical deformations in either organisms or offspring of the organisms.” [40 CFR Part 503.9 (f)]
    BECAUSE the land spreading of treated sewage sludge/”biosolids” has caused sickness (and even death) in people around the country – (known as “sludge syndrome”) including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, eye, nose and throat burning and irritation, skin rashes and lesions, cysts, bloody noses, eye infections, pneumonia, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, tumors, immune system damage, viral and bacterial infections and a host of other physical maladies.


  16. River Watcher says:

    NIOSH couldn’t even publish the true facts as EPA had related them to Congress: “(13) The
    term “toxic pollutant” means those pollutants [sewage, sludge, solid waste, radioactive material,
    etc], or combinations of pollutants, including disease causing agents, which after discharge
    and upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation or assimilation into any organism [living entity], either
    directly from the environment or indirectly by ingestion through food chains, will, on the basis
    of information available to the Administrator, cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities,
    cancer, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions (including malfunctions in reproductions)
    of physical deformations, in organisms [humans and animals as well as microorganisms] or
    their offspring.” (Title 33, part 1362)

    Lewis found, “The primary complaints (a fourth or more reporting the symptom) within 1 h of
    exposure were coughing (63%, 8 sites), burning throat (56%, 10 sites), burning eyes (56%, 9
    sites), and headaches (46%, 6 sites). Within 24 h, residents developed nasal and chest
    congestion (77%, 7 sites), difficulty in breathing (71%, 8 sites), nausea/vomiting (46%, 7 sites),
    fatigue (33%, 7 sites), and flu-like symptoms (29%, 5 sites). In some cases, symptoms of
    chemical irritation (e.g., burning eyes, burning throat) recurred for over a year after
    applications ceased.”


  17. River Watcher says:

    WATERFORD, Va. — Residents from Loudoun and Frederick counties say they will demonstrate at a state meeting tomorrow because Board of Health officials have ignored complaints that sludge used to fertilize neighboring farms has made them nauseated and caused other flulike symptoms.

    Linda J. Messick, of Winchester, Va., is among the120 residents who say they developed allergic, viral and bacterial illnesses after as many as 15 Loudoun County farms were fertilized with sewage sludge from 1999 to 2003.

    Mrs. Messick said she nearly died from two allergic reactions caused by the sludge — including one in November 2001 that started when she stood in a wind that swept across a nearby farm.

    “I developed flulike symptoms overnight,” said Mrs. Messick, who had hives covering her body.


  18. River Watcher says:

    February 29, 2012

    Synagro LLC fined for storing and handling of sewage sludge in three VA counties.

    The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) slapped Synagro LLC with a civil fine while the latter also agreed to push forward with resolutions regarding sewage sludge violations in three counties in Virginia.

    The DEQ cited Synagro for improperly storing and handling sewage sludge on farms in Fauquier, Goochland, and Essex counties. Water containing sludge running off the farms into adjacent streams were involved in the environmental violations.

    According to the Free Lance-Star, the VA DEQ imposed a $65,000 fine. However, Synagro has proposed paying $16,250 of the fine and completing a “supplemental” environmental project to make up the $48,750 difference.

    The environmental project is purportedly designed to prevent excessive amounts of nitrogen in treated sludge from making its way into the Chesapeake Bay from farm fields.


  19. River Watcher says:

    It is very evident that this state’s administration, the health department and the waste haulers will continue to support agricultural concerns and dismiss health issues as the whining of a small minority. The farmers can stop this industry tomorrow. All they have to say is “No” to having their land sludged. That is all it takes to stop this biological warfare against the rural citizens of Virginia.

    The waste industry and our state officials present themselves to the citizens of Virginia as knowledgeable, but they don’t know what is in sewage sludge, they don’t care what is in it, and for the almighty dollar they will continue to turn their backs on the health-destroying effects and even deaths that this product can cause.

    Scientific research says that the heavy metals present in sludge are bio-accumulative in the soil and in the water table. Do those involved not understand that we produce their food in the soil they have spread with human waste and industrial chemicals? I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to understand that we are poisoning ourselves off the face of the planet.


  20. It may well be that the BOS doesn’t know all of this. Or, they know and don’t care. Sounds like it’s time to bring it up. A letter to Vogel may help as well, unless she’s in someone’s pocket

  21. River Watcher says:

    Local delegation to speak out on sludge

    A small delegation of Shenandoah County officials and residents will head to Richmond for the State Water Control Board’s meeting Tuesday morning in an attempt to sway the vote on a controversial biosolids permit.

    Recyc Systems Inc. wants to spread biosolids — treated municipal sewage sludge used as fertilizer — on 638.3 acres of two farms around Mt. Jackson. The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution last month in opposition to the permit, which has been under the review of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and dozens of residents have expressed their concern in writing and at public hearings since the original plan was presented in March 2009


  22. Concerned Citizen says:

    Dear Editor, Lots of interesting information on Sludge here in this section ” Letters to the Editor”. Through this column, I am just learning about Sludge and what is going on in the County and in the State of Virginia. I have found the letters and the referenced footnotes/articles very informative.

    There must be plenty of people like myself in Clarke who smell the stuff in the
    air and but do not know what it is other than something vile smelling. The point is, first our nose has alerted us to the problem that there is something wrong, then our intellect should take charge and do something about it. The smell may dissipate, but the contaminants remain in the ecosystem for a long long time. These elements will contaminate our water and sicken
    us in the long term.

    The government seems to be remiss in making this a public knowledge issue.

    The Clake Daily has written an nice article on the new sewage facility. As a follow up, could someone on the Clarke Daily staff writing a Feature Article on Sludge – all the
    dangers and concerns of contaminants, pollutants to our Health, Air and Water. I am sure there are other curious readers out there who would like to know.

  23. River Watcher says:

    I just learned all this myself and my nose did tell me first. I asked many question with know one exactly knowing what it was but they were sure it was safe. I was told you will get use to it. I DONT WANT TO!!

    I’m baffled on why none of this information was ever provided for us. Should I have googled ooh that smell cant ya smell that smell? All kidding aside, I feel as though it has been hidden from us.
    We need to get this information out to as many people as we can.

    I know there are other people that have felt the same affects we have, they just blamed it on other things.
    I didn’t just develope allergies this severe the moment I set foot in VA. It’s because of this sludge. My eye infections are very serious they impair my vision, its so bad I wont go out in public!

    I spend a great deal of time outdoors so I would understand why I’m more affected than others. I like my windows open and dislike A/C, I will like it this year for my own sake.

    I spoke to my Supervisor, I know he doesn’t use sludge on his land. I was told its put down biannually and that its public information to find out which farms are using it. Gave me contacts. Didn’t know much on the affects its been causing. How could we all be so uninformed???

    I just dont understand how our BOS doesn’t know about all these organization trying to stop this sludge! I found lots of articles in other Counties but not one from here.
    There has been complaints here but in my opinion I believe they were ignored!

    I am willing to meet everyone in this County that wants to stop this!

  24. A Neighbor says:

    I experienced flu-like symptoms that lasted for nearly a year. I seldom got sick before I moved to Clarke County 4 years ago. Now, every Spring I am experiencing something that absolutely saps my energy, spikes my temperature and leaves me in bed for a minimum of a week.
    It always seems to hit me just after the nauseating stench starts overflowing from nearby farms.
    We asked about what that smell was and were told … oh that’s nothing just some safe organic stuff the farmers use.
    I’m glad to know what the REAL problem is but horrified that this is permitted to occur.
    We have to stop the use of this hazardous material in and around our communities.
    For you farmers out there … you’re not just hurting yourselves and your livestock … you’re endangering your entire community! Don’t allow another load of this foul material to be used in Clarke County.
    EVERYONE needs to contact their BOS representative to get this ban enacted.

  25. On July 15, 1997 the Board of Supervisors approved the adoption of a text amendment establishing standards for the application of Biosolids.

    Beginning in 1998, two companies, Bio Gro and Recyc Systems applied biosolids in the County. Currently Synagro (formally Bio-Gro) and Wright Trucking spread on area farms.

    In 2004, State law repealed Counties ability to regulate biosolid application beyond testing and monitoring. The change permits Counties to request reimbursement for expenses relating to monitoring and testing but eliminates increased setback standards that Clarke County had adopted to protect ground and surface water resources in sensitive karst areas. The County maintains the ordinance and requests applicators to comply.

    All applications have been closely monitored by County and State representatives and have been in compliance with all requirements. In accordance with State Regulations, Counties may be reimbursed for the testing and monitoring expenses.

    Beginning January 1, 2008 the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assumed regulatory oversight of all land application of treated sewage sludge, commonly referred to as biosolids.

    This action, which moves oversight of the Biosolids Use Regulations from the Virginia Department of Health to DEQ, was at the direction of the 2007 General Assembly, which voted to consolidate the regulatory programs so that all persons land applying biosolids would be subject to uniform requirements, and to take advantage of the existing compliance and enforcement structure at DEQ. DEQ has established an Office of Land Application Programs within the Water Quality Division to manage the biosolids program, as well as land application of industrial sludges, septage, livestock and poultry waste, and water reclamation and reuse.

    The Virginia Department of Health will continue to consult with DEQ and advise the public on health issues related to biosolids applications. State Web Site

    Current new State regulations require:
    · Nutrient Management Plan to be submitted with application
    · Posting of property 48 hours prior to application
    · No spreading on snow


    If any of the BOS knew this was on the website, I certainly wasn’t advised that it was here. It was very hard to find.

    How many residents were opposed to this back in 1997? Did the residents know our BOS was voting on this?

    If this can be voted in, then it can be voted out!

  26. This Stinks says:

    CCGOV an amazing history lesson on crap. The issue is today, your history provides the common general political excuse of blaming someone else or someone else is accountable. If it is wrong or not working as expected the BOS should come off the sidelines with the companies, landowners or state government on this issue and say no more!

  27. TS, I think that is what (s)he is saying. My question is did the state take away localities right to ban it in 2004 when they repealed the localities right to regulate it. It should not be done in karst land at all. The battle may be with the state and not the bos. I can’t believe that people don’t have any legal recourse when their right to peaceful enjoyment of their home and property is violated so blatantly.

  28. River Watcher says:

    I’d like to thank Supervisor David Weiss for taking action on this issue. Thank you!!

    In 2004, State law repealed Counties ability to regulate biosolid application beyond testing and monitoring.
    This means they can not vote to ban it from our County, it’s at state level now.

    • I’m not convinced. Down where my wife is from, they had a big ol dust up at the county level over it. I’ll have to ask her relatives about their research and fight. It’s funny, the BOS can ban flagpoles, cellphone antennas and high speed internet towers, but they can’t ban this crap? (Pun intended)

  29. lily wallace says:

    All text in quotes excerpted directly from : http://www.wef.org/AWK/pages_cs.aspx?id=2155 or http://www.wef.org/AWK/pages_cs.aspx?id=1062
    Where brackets appear “[ ]”, portions of the article have been omitted.

    “Biosolids are the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of domestic waste at a wastewater treatment facility. Through biosolids management, solid residue from wastewater treatment * is processed to reduce or eliminate pathogens and minimize odors, forming a safe, beneficial agricultural product. Biosolids are carefully monitored and must be used in accordance with regulatory requirements.”  

     In other, much less polite words, they’re using human crap as fertilizer. (*solid residue from wastewater treatment = HUMAN FECES)
    Why is this okay? More importantly, why is this legal?
    If your neighbors came over and used your garden as a bathroom, would you be okay with that? Would you still eat those tomatoes?
    FYI, they give this stuff away to farmers for little to no cost.
    Ask yourself this: When was the last time big corporations gave anything beneficial and worthwhile away for little to no cost?

    “What are Prions and What are the Diseases Attributed to Exposure to Prions?  

    “Prion” refers to a particular kind of protein found in animal tissue. Most prions occur in a normal, harmless form, but there are abnormal or infectious forms. The normal, harmless form has the same sequence of amino acids as the abnormal form, but the abnormal, or infectious, form takes a different folded shape. Throughout this white paper the word “Prion” is used to indicate the abnormal, infectious form of prions. [ ]
    However, like viruses and bacteria, prions are infectious and replicate in host tissues. Prions cause normal cellular proteins to convert to the abnormal or prion form. [ ]
    It is now commonly accepted that prions are responsible for a number of previously known but little-understood animal (including human) diseases generally classified under transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases (TSEs) (Wikipedia, 2005)2.  These diseases affect the structure of brain tissue and are all fatal and untreatable.  [ ]” *

    * TRANSLATION: This can kill you! Okay sure, can doesn’t necessarily mean will….. but why take the chance!!!

    “What are the Methods of Prion Destruction?

    Prions found in environmental media or in residuals such as biosolids appear to be extremely resistant to degradation and loss of infectivity. 
    Current methods for denaturing prions and significantly reducing infectivity such as high temperatures and treatment with alkalis and bleach are applicable to prion-contaminated animal tissues but are not applicable to wastewater and biosolids treatment.
    Once in the wastewater treatment process, no significant decrease in prion infectivity or prion degradation is expected to occur because of prions’ resistance to physical and chemical conditions encountered in wastewater treatment plants.
    Whatever little concentration of prions in the incoming wastewater, they are expected to strongly partition to and concentrate in biosolids during wastewater treatment. 
    Based on the physical and chemical stability of prions, it is expected that prions will persist in biosolids, albeit at expectedly very low levels with respect to potential infectivity and the very limited number of potential environmental transport pathways available to infect animals or humans. 

    Have Prions Been Detected in Wastewater or Biosolids?
    Currently, no validated analytical methodologies are available for the determination of prions in municipal wastewater influent, treated municipal wastewater effluent, or in biosolids.  Once these analytical methods are developed, prions might be detected and quantified in these media. *”

    * TRANSLATION: They have no way of measuring the amount of potential toxins just yet, therefore they can’t possibly assess the risk, however they anticipate finding them once they have an accurate method of measurement!!!

    “Because prions are positively charged, and have been described as being “sticky”, they are likely to strongly sorb to solids and soils both in the landfill and to the landfill liner.
    Prions and their infectivity related to an animal TSE have been demonstrated to persist in soils for several years (Brown, 1991)14.  Because of their strong affinity with solid particulates and, therefore, very low concentrations in the aqueous phase, prions are not expected to threaten human-consumed or animal feed crops through root uptake in biosolids land application.  For the same reason, transport of prions to groundwater or surface waters from biosolids land application is not anticipated.  Prions have no volatility so ambient air transport can be ruled out. 

    There is an ongoing need for additional research * in the areas described in this fact sheet to better quantify the information presented herein.  Results of this research should further expand the scientific knowledge based on the subject of prions.”

    *Umm, yeah, ya think? Maybe the research should have been done before making it okay to use as fertilizer.

    Most ironically, this CRAP is being LEGALLY labelled as organic, so those really expensive apples you just bought because they were grown “organically” are probably more likely to make you sick than they are to make you healthier.

    If you are at all concerned about being poisoned by literal s**t being spread in your neighborhood,
    which could potentially stay in your soil for years,
    which is applied in powdered form causing it to become a widespread airborne inhalant
    which could cause as yet unstudied health threats, and
    which the “manufacturers” would otherwise have to pay to dispose of in a responsible manner


    Michael Hobert, Chairman Clarke County Board of Supervisors
    lawyers@visuallink.com (540) 955-5100 101 Chalmers Court Berryville, VA 22611


    Ellie Irons, Office of Environmental Impact Review Manager (804) 698-4325  Ellie.Irons@deq.virginia. gov
    Jeffery Steers, Director Division of Land Protection and Revitalization (804) 698-4079 jeffery.steers@deq.virginia.gov
    Angela Jenkins, DEQ Policy Director (804) 698-4268 angela.jenkins@deq.virginia


    • Concerned Citizen says:

      Thank you Lily Wallace for the list of Dept. heads.

      All of this has been very informative.

      Is there going to be a meeting in Berryville on the subject of preventing Sludge Application?

      Is there a citizen activist group out there that can help?

      Even if the County gov has no effecive say in the matter, and even if it is now at the State Gov. level…we residents who are upset about this will need to organize ourselves at the local level to carry our
      request to the State for change in Sludge Laws .

      I really wonder about our local farmers. Has the State or Local Government completely and fully informed our local farmers about the dangers and risks of pollutants in the Biosolids and how the farmers decision to apply Sludge will affect their neighbors health, water and enviornment ? I bet they
      are not aware of all the information and dangers listed here in this column.

      Call an open meeting on Sludge, invite the farmers…to spread the information, not the sludge.

  30. Roscoe Evans says:

    If its making you and your family sick, River Watcher, there’s something wrong, either with the way the Stuff is being applied, or the strength (dosage) of the application.

    So what if the State has preempted County regulation. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the process is being completed in accordance with State standards.

    This situation sounds like its a common law nuisance. I’d consider hiring a lawyer who is capable of suing the folks who are polluting your neighborhood. Nobody in CC likes a real lawsuit. Abatement, and use of real, commonly accepted fertilizer would be a cheaper course of action than defending a lawsuit.

    Handwringing will get you nowhere. Good luck.

  31. Same old Sh*t says:

    Does anyone know if the “liquid” / solid waste being spread by dairy farms thru the use of tanker trucks is as bad as these “bio-solids”. They are constantly spreading this stuff day and night on Summit Point Rd and Withers Larue. It always stinks in this area and I know people who live there who have become seriously Ill and their well water now smells horrible also. We can’t even go to their house anymore due to the smell. They spread this stuff day and night except Sundays. It all comes from a dairy farm on summit point Rd.

  32. River Watcher says:

    Yes, Its in liquid form!!! Everything is public information on where this stuff is put.

    Michael Hobert, Chairman Clarke County Board of Supervisors
    lawyers@visuallink.com (540) 955-5100 101 Chalmers Court Berryville, VA 22611

    Dont listen to Government programmed lingo! This stuff is bad, period! It does NOT need to be right next door to you to smell it or feel its affects.

  33. Roscoe Evans says:

    It’s just about a textbook case of a legal nuisance, River Watcher. Document all your effects. Then hire a decent lawyer, and demand that the nuisance be abated. You saw how fast Clarke County folded when Georgetown U. decided it wouldn’t tolerate the bureaucratic bullstuff response to its retreat proposal, didn’t you? GU filed a lawsuit, and Clarke backed off, in a hurry. I’m all for legitimate farmers and farm families, but I also am convinced that much of what is done to promote agricultural “values” in Clarke is just selfish nonsense.

    Farmers use that stuff because its cheap. Make it costly, and they will stop.

  34. R.bIERERE says:

    Could not understand why I felt so bad all spring or why my road smelled so awful while driving home. My dear neighbor ,whom I was telling about how sick I felt, told me about this web site. I too have runny nose, constantly, coughing up white stringy stuff that gags and almost suffocates me in the night..headaches which are new to me and feel like crap. Can’t function during the day. I’m tired of hearing about pollen counts. After reading these pages I realized we are being murdered by the government allowing this to take place.
    If we can as a state take the healthcare bill to the Supreme Court it is time we get P.O’d enough to get ourselves a Great lawyer with the guts of Cuccinelli and SUE the government the EPA and the other jackass agenies that have no regard for the private citizens welfare. Where is a petition and where do we sign.?.And what is our GOVENOR doing about this? I AM ANGRY [redacted]


  35. Concerned Citizen says:

    I found these comments back in the Clarke Daily News Archives. Let´s keep it on the front page please!
    CDN please Keep the informataion channels open on the Sludge problems and maybe we can get enough voices to have the complaints taken seriously !

  36. I forwarded this letter to the Winchester Star. Don’t know it it’ll get published or not. I think the next step is going to be awareness of the community. Let’s face it, if you’re not farming, and you’re not within smelling distance, you probably aren’t aware of what’s being spread on the ground in our community.

    Perhaps a booth at the upcoming Bike Weekend, manned by some of the folks here that have been sickened?

    I’m still trying to check to see what kind of battle took place in Campbell County. I’m pretty sure it was at the local level. If that is confirmed, I’ll post it here. I’m kinda hoping that they got the same answer as was given here, that it was out of the hands of the local politicians

    Othewise, we might be getting a snow job from the BOS

  37. Concerned Citizen says:

    The subject of exposure to Sludge is getting more complicated for me.

    Sludge is in the bags of Garden Soil which we purchase from our local Garden Centers! And the
    Government does not require Sludge-Biosolds to be labelled as such on the contents of Garden Soil bags.

    Last year, I purchased a dozen bags of garden soil from a local Garden Center/ Nursery. I opened the
    Bags, one by one and each bag of soil had a biting, sicking smell which took my breath away. I mixed the soil in the bags by hand with my own garden soil. . . I had tearing eyes, coughed and had to turn my head away and hold my breath when working with the packaged soil. I thought mixing it with my hands and adding my own home soil would reduce the toxic smell. It did not.

    I read your letters last week. Recalling the incident with the Garden Soil last year, I was wondering… was I unwittingly use sewage sludge with toxins and pollutants for planting my herbs and Tomatoes!

    So, after reading the articles about Sludge in your newspaper CDN, it made me wonder if that disgusting Garden Soil which I purchased last year may actually have been Sludge. In the past week I have researched many articles, and found out that the Government does not require Sludge to be labelled as Sludge on bags Of Garden Soil.

    It would appear that our government is deceiving the consumer, by not requiring Sludge-Biosolds to be labelled as such on the garden product we purchase.


    In brief, Here is the statement from the above website which says Sludge-Biosolds are sold as Garden soil:

    The following “organic” products are deceptively sold as fertilizers, soil amendments, and/or compost, but they are all made from sewage sludge:
    Agresoil, All-Gro, Amend, Bay State Fertilizer, Chesapeake Sunshine, CompostT, ComPro, Dillo Dirt, EKO Compost, EarthBlends, EarthMate, Glacier Gold, Granulite, GroCo, Gromulch, Growers’ Blend, Earthlife, Hou-Actinite, Landscapers’ Advantage, MetroGro, Milorganite, Mine Mix, N-Viro BioBlend, N-Viro Soil, Nitrohumus, Nutri-Green, ORGRO, Oceangro, SilviGrow, SoilPro™ Products Premium Compost, SoundGro, TAGRO, TOPGRO, Topper, Unity Fertilizer, WeCare Compost.
    For more information on these and other products, visit our Toxic Sludge Products article. “

    • Don’t look too hard into this stuff, you’ll end up going down a rabbit hole on a whole host of other related issues. Treated materials that are shredded and added to compost that people put into their gardens. Genetic engineering of seeds. It’s amazing and scary what has gone on right under our eyes.

      If anyone is interested, here’s a link to a list of companies that have heirloom seeds, ones’ that haven’t been engineered. There’s some interesting info at the links on that page as well


  38. Concerned Citizen says:

    Thanks -appreciate the address for Historical Seeds…but then I buy a bag of Garden Soil and it ends up being sludge and not labled as sludge??
    It looks like this Sludge Industry is very active in the Nation´s Capital lobbying Washington successfully.
    And it seems like Washington is betraying the public´s health interest on behalf of the sludge industry.


    • Right Winger says:

      Well, if the gov’t is good at anything, it’s shoveling $#*& to the public.

  39. Come to the Democrat committee meeting Tuesday night, April 3 to discuss this issue with David Weiss, who says he will take the issue to Richmond for us. There are many of us which would like to band together to change the tide of this “legalized toxicity” and devious marketing for profit. Let’s begin to gather and take a stand.

  40. The Clarke County Democratic Committee meeting April 3, location change:

    St, Mary’s Parish Hall is getting ready for Easter related observances and is not available to us on Tuesday, April 3.

    Helen Butts has obliged us with a meeting place in the Court House chamber.

    See you at 7:00 p.m.

  41. Meeting Tonight says:

    CDN, Is there some way of confirming this meeting with Supervisor Weiss?

    CDN Editor: According to the Clarke County Democrats website ( http://www.clarkecountydems.blogspot.com/ ) please contact Sue Liggett Chair, CCDC Phone: (540) 955-3341

  42. River Watcher says:

    There is NO meeting about biosolids with Davd Weiss tonight. I just called Sue Liggett and there was a mix up of some sort in communications.

  43. tolduso says:

    Virginia National Golf Club was thrown under the bus for small amounts of fertilizer by the Natural Resource Dept earlier this year, what’s their take on this ? Or better still, why aren’t they throwing these folks under the same bus ?

  44. Anyone who claims sludge/biosolids are safe are lying are have simply failed to do basic research. They claim: 1) sludge is safe based on some level of extreme thermotolerant E. coli; and 2) that EPA actually did a risk assessment.

    Coliform: E. coli family of Enterobacteriaceae at normal body temperature, some of which are potential bioterrorism agent.

    Culpable ignorance: lack of knowledge or understanding that results from the omission of ordinary care to acquire such knowledge or understanding.

    Dogma: a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds such as that coliform and fecal coliform are only harmless indicators of potential fecal pollution in food or water.

    Fecal coliform: thermotolerant E. coli are the remaining viable bacteria after the rest have become viable but nonculturable by standard laboratory methods.

    Malfeasance: wrongdoing or misconduct especially by a public official.


    EPA has admitted (1989) there are at least twenty-one carcinogens (cancer causing
    agents) in sludge which were removed from the final 503. (FR 54,p. 5777).

    EPA has admitted (1989) that five of the admitted twenty-one carcinogens in sludge
    are carcinogenic when inhaled in dust — Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium IV
    and Nickel. (FR 54, p. 5777)


    On page 110, EPA admits it did not use any risk assessment in creating the 503 “regulation”.
    A Guide to the Biosolids Risk Assessments for the EPA Part 503 Rule
    EPA832-B-93-005 Chapter 6 (PDF file, 1143K) Questions and Answers on the Part 503 Risk Assessments. http://www.epa.gov/owm/mtb/biosolids/503rule/503g_ch6.pdfE

  45. Got-A-Dollar says:

    Landowners and the people that distribute this crap make big buck. It’s all about the money!

  46. Has anyone stopped to wonder why 3 or 4 people can get bacterial food poisoning and the government agencies flock to find out the specific bacteria or virus and where it originated, yet, when number of people get sick near a sludge farm dump site — silence?

  47. The government allows 2 million colonies of thermotolerant E. coli (fecal coliform) per gram of Class B sludge/biosolids and 1,000 colonies per gram of Class A sludge. The following samples came from a farm next to Kansas City’s sludge farm one year after sludge disposal. The elevated fecal coliform test does not give any indication as to the actual number of bacteria being dumped on farmland in sludge. This is the reason for the — silence from government agencies.

    Sample 1: Fecal coliform — 90 colonies per gram
    Salmonella — >8,000 colonies per gram

    Sample 2: Fecal coliform — 30 colonies per gram
    E. coli — >8,000 colonies per gram


  48. Berryville Mayor Wilson Kirby and the Clarke County Board of Supervisors should be praised for doing their due diligence in trying to understand the many problems caused by biosolids (BS). Unfortunately, too many rural Virginia counties merely accept a lot of bs about BS spewed by propaganda organizations like Virginia Biosolids Council

    For instance, in the letters column on Apr11.2012, Mr. Barry Dunkely, President of Virginia Biosolids Council, attacked Dr. Caroline Snyder and her letter of caution of Mar26.2012. The public needs to put Mr. Dunkely and his comments in perspective.

    First, the Virginia Biosolids Council is a front for the billion dollar BS hauler Synagro and other BS producers and haulers. Virginia Biosolids Council was set up by the Richmond PR firm Hooks Associates, hired by Synagro. In other words, Mr. Dunkely is speaking as a shill for the BS industry, which is perpetrating a multi-billion dollar environmental fiasco of spreading urban-sourced human feces mixed with industrial wastes on Virginia’s rural land. This scam has been going on for too long, and communities need to bring it to an end. Info on Va. Biosolids Council here: http://virginiabiosolids.org/B-03-Victims/VaBSCouncil.htm

    Interestingly, Mr Dunkely is also director of Danville’s water and waste-treatment facilities. In late March of this year the Virginia Dept. of Health warned Danville residents to boil their drinking and cooking water because it was unsafe. The problem, according to Mr. Dunkely, was heavy rains caused a high volume of run-off water containing contaminants, including fertilizers, which polluted local surface water. Now this same Barry Dunkely wants to convince the people of Clarke County, 200 miles away, that it is better to spread human feces on farm land, which is always subject to run-off, instead of disposing of it properly. There seems to be a very serious disconnect here between Mr. Dunkely’s theory and the reality of the poor water quality of his own operations. http://www2.wsls.com/news/2012/mar/26/what-happened-danvilles-water-system-ar-1796365/

    Mr. Teetor’s assertions regarding the safety of BS are also exaggerations. The EPA does not, and has never, so far as I am aware, concluded that BS is safe. What they – and the state officials – assert is that BS has not been proven not to be safe. Most people realize that bureaucratic double-speak like this is spin. In fact, in 2002 the EPA Office of Inspector General said, in effect, that the governmental scheme that is supposed to protect people from the dangers of BS is not protective of human health. Also, the EPA has very explicitly said that because of the uncertainties about safety the EPA does not promote land-application of BS over any other permissible method of disposal.

    Mr. Tyrell’s claim that he has never had a health problem with BS is very good news, but mostly irrelevant because Mr. Tyrell does not represent all of the myriad genetic variations that comprise the human genotype. Mrs. Sandra Wyatt of Surry County, Virginia was an example of millions of people who are not as lucky as Mr. Tyrell. Ms. Wyatt was severely affected by BS spread on neighboring land . . . in fact, they killed her. The people of Clarke County need to ask themselves whether farmers getting free fertilizer is worth risking their neighbors’ health. If Sandra Wyatt were alive today, she would say what the rest of us say: “You must be kidding.”

    Currently, Delegate C. Todd Gilbert of Woodstock is sponsoring a bill that would unequivocally give local communities complete control over whether or not BS is land applied. I refer to this bill as “Sandra’s Bill” and I hope people will demand control over their own communities and will contact Mr. Gilbert with their support. More information is on my website: http://www.something-stinks.com/B-03-Victims/SupportSandra.htm

    As for farmers contemplating putting BS on their land, as a Virginia attorney I would offer you one free but very important piece of advice: get an indemnity agreement. Whether it’s Berryville, or the County, or some private company like Synagro bringing the BS to your property, make them sign a statement by which they accept full responsibility for any damage the BS does to your property or to your neighbor’s health. There are plenty of BS nightmares out there and before you take the word of BS-promoters like Mr. Teetor, Mr. Dunkely, and the Virginia Biosolids Council, you should demand written assurance that you will be compensated if you get sued and the BS hype turns out to be bs. You can find a sample indemnity agreement here

    Denis R. O’Brien, PhD/Esq.