Local Officials Say Biosolids Safe to Use

Biosolids are widely used in Clarke County and viewed as a safe and cost-effective agricultural fertilizer by many Berryville and Clarke County officials. Even if Clarke County and Berryville officials held biosolids health concerns, it is widely accepted that the Commonwealth of Virginia  has the authority to prevent localities like Clarke County from prohibiting biosolids use. But a Virginia lawyer who specializes in health and environmental laws related to biosolids says not only are biosolids dangerous, federal law empowers local officials to stop biosolids if they wanted to.

“I would estimate that there are approximately 50 farmers that have chosen to use biosolids as fertilizer on their farms,” said Clarke County Environmental Planner Alison Teetor. “The County has been generally supportive of biosolids application because it is a free source of fertilizer to the farmers and therefor an economic benefit to the agricultural community.”

The Town of Berryville’s Director of Utilities and wasterwater treatment plant manager David Tyrrell agrees.

“Biosolids are a great soil conditioner, they reduce the need for and in some cases eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers, and farmers who use biosolids on their fields see an increase in production on the fields where biosolids are applied,” Tyrell said. “The biosolids industry is heavily regulated by the EPA and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and are safe for use. As with many types of industry in our past this was not always the case. Better regulation and treatment processes have corrected these old issues. The precautions actually come in how and where biosolids are applied which is part of the permitting process. Best Management Practices keep biosolids away from streams and rock breaks for example to keep from adding nutrient loading to the waters and eventually to the Chesapeake Bay. Also testing of the biosolids and soils help to determine the application rate so that too many nutrients are not added to the application fields. These are the same type of practices that we all should use when applying fertilizers whether to a farm field or to our front yards.”

“Biosolids are probably the most heavily regulated and researched form of fertilizer and have been determined to be safe by the EPA,” Teetor concurred. “There are concerns that certain elements such as pharmaceuticals or heavy metals may be present in biosolids but to my knowledge that has not been shown scientifically.”

Clarke County Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh) said that while he doesn’t use biosolids fertilizer in his farming operation, the lack of use isn’t because of environmental concerns.

“Based on the science that I have seen before and the limited experience that I have had with biosolids it seems to be environmentally safe,” Weiss said. “If new science is presented then I’m open to looking at it.”

But the challenge facing most citizens and local officials who may have concerns about biosolids use is perhaps not whether new science is being presented – teams of scientists across the country are dedicated to better understanding the impact and benefit tradeoffs associated with biosolids use – but how best to weigh the balance of opposing opinions in order to reach a correct conclusion.

“The word simple never applies to biosolids,” said Tyrell.

For many local officials, the default position when it comes to evaluating the level of risk from using biosolids products is to rely on state and federal regulation. Even so, Clarke County did its best to reach its own conclusions about biosolids use when the idea began to gain popularity as a cheap source of agricultural fertilizer.

“Clarke County studied that matter for over a year prior to adopting their ordinance,” said Berryville Mayor Wilson Kirby. “This study included soil testing. As a result of their study they adopted requirements designed to protect ground water, surface water, and adjoining land owner.”

“The County did a year-long study in the late 1990’s that looked at biosolids use,” agreed County Zoning Administrator Jessie Russell. “We were concerned about the issue and wanted to understand biosolids use better for ourselves.”

Russell said that the County used a test plot to monitor the impacts of biosolids application at different soil depths. Russel said that although the County did not identify any specific health or public safety concerns, it still adopted a biosolids ordinance that included stream setbacks and prevented biosolids application from areas where rock cracks would allow the biosolids to easily reach ground water.

“When Clarke County originally adopted the biosolids ordinance we doubled the State setback requirements because of our concerns regarding karst,” said Teetor.

But most of Clarke’s restrictive regulations were nullified in 2004, according to Teetor, when a Virginia law repealed the ability of localities to regulate biosolids application beyond testing and monitoring. Teetor said that the change permits counties to request reimbursement for expenses relating to monitoring and testing but eliminated increased setback standards that Clarke County had adopted to protect ground and surface water resources in sensitive karst areas.

“We have a County monitor who visits each farm where biosolids is being applied to insure setbacks are adhered to and that individual may take samples of the material for testing” Teetor said. “We still ask applicators to adhere to this standard and some do even though they are not required to do so. The EPA has determined that biosolids, when properly applied, are safe.”

After the Environmental Protection Agency said that biosolids were “safe”, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s “test and monitor only” rule prevented localities like Clarke County from restricting biosolids use.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia requires localities to permit biosolids application that conform to established regulations,” said Kirby. “Localities may regulate this use more stringently than the State provided that the limitations are reasonable and do not have the effect of prohibiting the application.”

David Tyrell said that he agrees with federal and state government positions that biosolids application does not present a threat to human health when safety precautions are followed.

“In my opinion, with proper solids treatment and application, I feel there are nearly no public health risks,” Tyrell said. ”Of course you are asking a person who is directly in contact with these products all the time. I have never had any health issues from biosolids and have had, shall we say without details, many concentrated interactions with it over the past twenty-seven years – more so than the general public would ever come in contact with such products.”

Asked about health care concerns expressed by members of the Clarke County community, Kirby replied;

“Not knowing the concerns about which you speak, I can’t comment on specifics but I am aware that biosolids application is tightly regulated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  These regulations dictate how various classes of biosolids may be applied.”

But while the scientific process offers one way of understanding the biosolids debate, the legal system offers yet another. According to health and environmental law expert Chris Nidel, the Federal Clean Water Act actually does provide Virginia localities with the authority to ban biosolids despite widely held beliefs to the contrary.

Nidel, who founded his own  law firm in 2006 in order represent those injured or damaged by environmental or occupational exposures, has a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from M.I.T has worked for a major pharmaceutical company.

In countering the belief that Virginia localities are powerless to stop biosolids use, Nidel points to the 40 C.F.R. Part 503, ‘Standards for the Use and Disposal of Sewage Sludge’, regulations were passed pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act – and the Clean Water Act itself – as providing the authority for localities to regulate biosolids use.

According to Nidel, the Federal Clean Water Act’s language empowering localities to make their own decisions about biosolids trumps state oversight, even in Virginia where the Dillion rule limits local government autonomy. Nidel outlines his position in detail on his law blog http://www.nidellaw.com/blog/?p=17.

“The Clean Water Act says that the use and disposal of sludge is a local issue,” Nidel said. “While local governments are not required to regulate the use and disposal of sewage sludge, under the federal sludge laws it is required that the ultimate determination on both biosolids use and disposal is reserved to the local government, and NOT left solely to the State.”

“There’s nothing that the Commonwealth of Virginia can do to restrict localities because of the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution,” Nidel continued. “You can think of the Dillon Rule however you want to but it doesn’t take away the locality’s right to regulate sludge use.”

Nidel, who has recently represented two Virginia families in court over harm alleged to have stemmed from repeated exposure to biosolids used on a nearby field, said that although the case settled out of court, the EPA’s wait-and-see stance on biosolids is nothing more than bureaucratic wishful thinking.

“This is an experiment—with the initial results being negative—that we are going to continue ad nauseam until we have a regulatory agency that has a backbone,” Nidel said

While the larger biosolids debate is complex, three major issues repeatedly arise whenever biosolids are mentioned and Clarke County is no exception; smell, heavy metal contaminants, and disposal alternatives.

According to Clarke County Director of Utilities David Tyrell, Berryville’s biosolids production will not have the same level of noxious odor as biosolids currently being imported for use from other localities.

“Often this depends upon the type of treatment the biosolids receives. Larger facilities often use an anaerobic process – lack of oxygen – to further treat the organic portion of the biosolids, Tyrell explained. “The result of this type of biological activity is an odorous biosolids. Lime stabilization of these solids helps to reduce the odors. Berryville will be using a totally aerobic process – oxygen present – which will not have the same strong odor as the anaerobic processes and will also be lime stabilizing.”

But according to Chris Nidel, the real threat of biosolids is the material itself, not the terrible odor.

“At the fundamental level biosolids are composed of decaying human proteins,” Nidel said. “It’s a basic problem that the industry can’t get around. Endotoxins and bacteria that breakdown the human feces are present in biosolids. When those endotoxins and bacteria are breathed into the body they can inflame the human lung and produce flu-like symptoms – nausea, dizziness and headaches.”

Nidel said that nausea associated with biosolids endotoxins is so common that it even has a disease – “Sewage Sludge Disease.”

Nidel says that prolonged lung inflammation causes scarring in the lung lining and, in some cases, can eventually result in death.

“Biosolids also contain things like flame retardants and PCB’s but those are not what produce flu-like symptoms” Nidel said.

A second biosolids concern involves the presence of heavy metals, like mercury, left behind in the biosolids after the filtration process has removed the water from the sewage.

Introduction of heavy metals into soil can cause a range of long-term health problems. But according to David Tyrell, there are no companies presently in Berryville that use heavy metals in their industrial processes.

“I am aware of no industrial uses in Berryville that are of concern,” said Tyrell.

But even though heavy metals may not be a concern at the moment in Berryville, Nidel says that science has little understanding of the effects other biosolids components – like pharmaceuticals and hormones.

“These are materials that we know have an inherent risk,” Nidel said. “Yet the biosolids regulators have no idea what the materials can do once they are introduced through biosolids into the soil.”

New research shows that biosolids that do contain heavy metals and other chemicals may be linked to an increase in autism.

“Depending on a person’s genetics, one or more heavy metals may trigger one of these diseases to develop. For others, it may require exposure to a particular pesticide or some other toxic organic chemical to trigger the onset of a particular disease. It used to be that someone had to work in a factory or live on a farm where pesticides are sprayed to be exposed to many of these chemicals in amounts that could damage the immune or the neurological system. Children are particularly susceptible,” said Dr. David L. Lewis, Director of the Research Misconduct Project at the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington , DC.

“Over the past three decades, EPA and USDA have been increasingly pushing the idea that sewage sludge, which contains almost every imaginable chemical pollutant is the world in concentrated form, should be spread on land. Applying biosolids dramatically increases the probability that people living in the area where it’s applied will encounter whatever chemical pollutant, or combination of pollutants, it takes to trigger the onset of the particular diseases to which they are genetically susceptible. We no longer have to live near a chemical plant to be exposed on a daily basis to whatever chemical pollutants trigger some disease or disorder we lack the genes to protect us from getting. EPA is having all of them delivered to us to be spread on our farms and forests, public parks, school playgrounds, and home gardens” Lewis said.

Like all waste, human or otherwise, biosolids have to go somewhere. When biosolids aren’t used on fields one common alternative is to dump the material in a local landfill, an approach that County Environmental Planner Alison Teetor rejects.  Asked if the County should consider a moratorium on the use of Berryville biosolids when the new sewage treatment plant goes online later this month, Teetor said “No”.

“I would not support that,” Teetor said. “The sewage must be treated and meet certain standards prior to any land application.  If the material is not land applied then it is put in the land fill which uses up space.  I don’t think the Berryville biosolids are any different than any other sewage treatment plant and at least we would be recycling locally.”

David Tyrell agreed.

“There are two options for our biosolids, first in depositing in the landfill, the other is land application,” Tyrell said. “There is a permitting process for both scenarios. Land application requires the permitting of land for the application of biosolids and a bank of ongoing testing of both solids and the soils the biosolids are applied to.”

“Local disposal is the most economical,” Tyrell said.

But M.I.T.- trained Chris Nidel sees energy generation as yet a third option for bio-solid disposal but says that the new energy production technology may never become commercially available as long as the human costs of using biosolids continue to be hidden from the public.

“There are already technologies available like plasma arc gasification that can turn biosolids into energy,” Nidel said.

Plasma arc gasification  is  a high-temperature pyrolysis process whereby the organics of waste solids are converted to a synthesis gas while inorganic materials and minerals produce a rock-like glassy by-product called ‘vitrified slag’ that contains heavy metals and other substances. The resulting gas can be used an energy source.

“The problem is that as long as oversight agencies ignore the real costs of using biosolids we’re never going to move beyond the lowest common denominator.”




  1. Dr Edo McGowan says:

    The sad reality in this is that land application of biosolids may spread serious superbugs that are actually generated in the processing of sewage.These are superbugs are thus able to be transferred to farmlands. Medicine is rapidly running out of antibiotics. The deaths from antibiotic resistant infections now well exceeds deaths from AIDS. The US EPA, through its own Wastewater Research Division, Municipal Environmental Research Laboratory, Cincinnati, Ohio has known about this for three decades and does nothing because the agency is clientele captured by the wastewater associated systems. To get some ideas of this, the interested reader is directed to the following:industries.



    • Clarke County Environmental Planner, Alison Teetor mistakenly claims that it has not been shown scientifically that biosolids contain toxic metals and pharmaceuticals. Not toxic only metals and drugs, but thousands of other man-made synthetic chemical compounds are discharged into sewers every day and most end up, concentrated, in biosolids. For a partial list see http://www.sludgefacts.org/Ref111.pdf

      Readers might also question the assumption that just because land application is regulated, that the practice is safe. . Class A sludge, which can be put any where, any time, in any amount can legally contain 41 parts per million of arsenic, 39 of cadmium, 1,500 of copper, 300 of lead, 17 of mercury,420 of nickel, 2,800 of zinc plus molybdenum and chromium. These are levels the industry can live with, not levels that protect human health, agriculture, or the environment.

      • Ms. Synder:

        I hate to knock you off your unicorn there, but here are the facts:

        1. Planet Earth is a closed system and its too expensive to shoot sludge rockets into space so we have to manage it here on terra firma. All that arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, zinc, molybendum and chromium ALREADY EXIST IN THE PRODUCTS ALL AROUND US AND WERE NOT CREATED BY A WASTEWATER TREATMENT PROCESS.

        2. Just as importantly, there is no “industry” for goodness sake. Wastewater treatment works are locally owned and operated facilities that prevent raw human waste from entering creeks, rivers, lakes, bays and oceans like it did for all human history until only a very few years ago. Raw human waste is generated by you, your kids, neighbors and employers. If a problem exists, you are, like all of us, part of the problem and so if there is an “industry” you are part of that too.

        3. Nobody in their right mind is going to stop taking showers & baths, washing clothes & dishes, or stop releiving themselves indoors. Take a tour around 19th century Europe for inspiration though if you’d like.

        4. Treatment plant operators around the nation take their profession very seriously and wastewater treatment plants are using biosolids to generate power using many technologies. These people are practical environmentalists who realize that in order to continue improving our community’s health, we must move past rhetoric and act. But biosolids have both macro and micro nutirients that re important for soil health that are better for the soil than chemical fertilizers so burning them into the atmosphere for energy is not some nirvana, it diminishes and permanently changes the balance of carbon in the environment.

        5. If land application is not safe as you infer because of the chemical you cite, where would you choose to put it? You have 3 choices: land, air or sea … or that sludge rocket.

        Lead, follow or get out of the way.

        • Kevin: Sewage sludge is not just human waste. Current state and federal regulations permit every industry , hospital, metal plating shop, dry cleaning establishment, chemical company, to discharge, every month, 33 pounds of hazardous waste into sewers. Here treatment plants remove these, and other pollutants from the waste water. The removed hazardous and toxic materials end up in biosolids. The better the process works, the dirtier the sludge. Industries benefit twice: they can get rid of their hazardous waste cheaply, and they are no longer liable for any damage, once the material enters the treatment plant. Farmers and landowners, however, are liable if sludge-exposed neighbors get sick, or drinking water is impacted.

          We totally agree with you that treatment plant operators deserve our respect as they face the many new challenges of removing pollutants from an increasingly complex toxic waste stream.

          Fortunately there are safer and better solutions to sludge management than spreading it on agricultural land. Sludge contains valuable BTUs that can be used for renewable energy. The technologies to do so, exist, and are being used in many major European cities.

    • There is no scientific evidence that human pathogens resistant to antibiotics are being aided in their spread through land application of biosolids. Their presence in biosolids may be discerned by analysis, but soil is a rich media for other microbes that out-compete them. I have worked close to biosolids for over two decades, and my colleagues and I can attest that biosolids is not a source of infection, even when handled daily. Instead, health officials need to be concerned about hospitals and nursing homes, where sick people are receiving antibiotics and health care workers are in immediate contact with their bodily fluids. Our modern sewage treatment systems have been astonishingly reliable as a barrier to spread of disease, as epidemiologists have shown. The EPA is on the vanguard of protecting public health in its regulatory support for biosolids recycling to land; suggesting that they are “captured” by clientele, is to foolishly delved into some weird conspiracy plot foolishness.

  2. n3utr0nRU says:

    ^Great informed comments. Thanks for your perspectives!

  3. Got-A-Dollar says:

    Why not let the public know how much is being paid to landowners for biosolid disposal? It’s all about the money!

  4. “Based on the science that I have seen before and the limited experience that I have had with biosolids it seems to be environmentally safe,” Weiss said. “If new science is presented then I’m open to looking at it.”

    limited experience, it seems safe… LOL. One big DUH!!!

    Theres enough information on CDN for our Supervisors to educate themselves on biosolids.

    20k in our budget for this crap, one would think our Supervisors knew more than a limited amount!

  5. Get Over it says:

    Blah Blah BLah…..Bottom line is that NOBODY has proven without a doubt that the sludge is NOT safe. There are a ton of rules and regulations of where they can put it and not put it. I have had it on my farm for over 15 years, and i have NOT has 1 bad effect, not one sick cow, not one sick person, no change in my well or drinking water, and I HAVE NOT GOTTEN A DIME FOR TAKING IT! If I thought that it was a danger to me, my family or my farm (which is my livelihood) I wouldn’t take it. I have read Ms. Snyder’s propaganda, and I frankly DO NOT believe it. My land and soil health are better than it ever has been and I am tired of listening to everyone that HAS NO IDEA OF WHAT FARMING REALLY IS babble about what is good for my farm and what is not. My farm was here well before the population boom, and I was using biosolids well before than too. If you don’t like the county living, and smells are part of what makes the county pretty then feel free to take your arguments to suburbia where the normal Joe home-maker puts more Nitrogen on per pound of his .2 acres than I put in a 10 acre field and take that up as a cause!

    • Farming: the activity or business of growing crops and raising livestock.
      Farming is a business. As a responsible business owner, you must make decisions that support the community and environment in which you operate and ensure long term growth and profitability.

      Land application of municipal solid waste aka “biosolids” has only been in practice since 1972. The long term affects of this practice are still unknown but plenty of research has been conducted on the fertilizer. I encourage you to take a look at the Cornell Waste Management Institute’s website (http://cwmi.css.cornell.edu/sewagesludge.htm#health_safety) and do some research for yourself.

      You mention you do have not received a dime in compensation for taking the biosolids. It is true that biosolids are completely free for farmers to use, but you are saving yourself plenty of dimes by not using the more traditional “county living” fertilizers that produce odors that are commonly referred to as “the smell of money.” I realize that in light of the recession, times are tough and costs are more important than ever in order to meet overhead and earn a living. However, you are taking the typical slackfarmer approach of sacrificing long term economic and environmental sustainability in search of short term financial gains. If you are the faithful CC resident that you claim to be, why don’t you make an investment in your farm’s future as well as the County’s rather than biting at the first chance to make a quick buck?

      You mention the words “me” and “I” frequently in your response. Your farm, land, and soil are part of what makes this County great. The biosolids issue is a classic tragedy of the commons example where if every farmer in the County acts in his own selfish interests, it will eventually contribute to the detriment of the whole community, Clarke County.

      The biosolids that you spread on your field originate from major metropolitan areas where storm water runoff, industrial and household wastes all are processed, dried and then shipped out to CC. This includes runoff from those over-fertilized lawns common to suburbia.

      Clarke County residents, especially the farmers, need to stand up to the practice of biosolids land application and invest in more sustainable farming practices in order to insure the persistence of Clarke’s natural beauty well into the future.

    • Jim Poushinsky says:

      Farmers who are taking or considering taking the sewage sludge biosolids being offered them as “free” fertilizer need to ask themselves why valuable fertilizer is being given away free of charge? It is costing the municipalities supplying the sludge and their taxpayers a lot of money to provide a farmer this free gift, so why are they doing it? If it’s such a great fertilizer, why aren’t farmers lining up to pay for it?

      The reason is obvious from the comments posted here. In addition to the nitrogen and the excessive phosphorus in sewage sludge that has fertilizer value, you are also allowing the dumping on your fields of 1000s of different chemical wastes that make up about 40% of the volume. After tilling, some 10% of the sludge still remains on the surface, where it can be ingested by grazing animals, and wash off in rains and floods to contaminate surface waters.

      As for the argument that spreading it on farmland saves space in the dump, consider that much of the sewage sludge is water that evaporates in the landfill, greatly shrinking the volume. The sewage also packs around garbage, so in reality it takes very little space compared to garbage. The main beneficiaries of spreading are the trucking companies for whom this is a municipal make work project. The losers are those made sick by contamination of the food chain, air, water, and soil with sewage spreading.

    • “If you don’t like the county living, and smells are part of what makes the county pretty then feel free to take your arguments to suburbia”

      Perhaps the people that don’t like the smell were here before you owned your farm?

      So they don’t pay you to take the stuff. How much does it cost you? I would imagine it’s no cost to you, but feel free to tell us in the audience.

  6. John Lilly says:

    The biodolids that are spread in Clarke come from water treatment plants in DC and Bew Jersey. Biosolids was a coined term that officials came up with to boost public acceptance of the spreading of municipal sewage waste on farmland as an agricultural fertilizer. Class A Biosolids are processed to the point where they contain little to no pathogens (not trace metals or the thousands of other chemicals in the sludge) and are commonly sold in commercial size packages at local hardware and farm supply stores. Class B Biosolids are what is spread in large scale operations like those around Clarke County. Class B Biosolids are minimally processed and allowed to be semi-wet, containing low levels of pathogens. This stuff is scary!

    In a major court case the USEPA went against the Leather industry of Texas and the case resulted in the removal of chromium from the regulated trace metals in class B Biosolids. Chromium exists in two forms: chromium 3 and chromium 6. Chromium 6 is a KNOWN CARCINOGEN and it is widely used in industrial processes including leather tanning. Chromium is more likely to become mobile in the soil profile when exposed to alkalinity (lime applications to neutralize odor) and once it becomes incorporated into the soil profile, nearby residents are at a major risk of exposure to inhalation when the soil dries and is picked up in the wind.

    Thinking of getting the USDA organic farm certification? You cannot become a certified organic farm if you use biosolids. Trace metal contamination of agricultural fields is an irreversible process.

    Clarke County has the chance to do the right thing. We already allowed rayon manufacturing plants to pollute the Shenandoah and render its fish unsafe to eat. Why would we make the same mistake today and allow external municipalities to render our agricultural land useless?

    Do the right thing Berryville.

  7. Sunshine says:

    Where is River Watcher?
    He was intensely investigating this issue…
    Supplying sites for information…
    Reported physical ailments from this issue…now nothing?

  8. Jesse Richardson says:

    Good luck with that theory, Mr. Nidel. You’ll need it.

  9. A Neighbor says:

    Could someone kindly explain to me why there is a line item in the 2012 Clarke County Budget for an EXPENDITURE for biosolids?
    One of our BOS says that he has limited knowledge of biosolids. How can someone approve a budget based on “limited” knowledge of any line item. And now that there is a growing concern (rightfully so) about biosolids he states that he is open to review any new information.
    How about we research things introduced into our community BEFORE they are put down? How about our BOS educate themselves on issues prior to approving budgetary commitments? How about our BOS actually seek out information to make an informed decision instead of sitting back expecting it to be dropped in their lap? And last but not least: how about the farmers that reside WITHIN our community think about that community and not their wallet? I’m sick of me-first people and this polarizing topic stinks to high heaven.

    • Another View says:

      WHY is there a government expenditure for private businesses? BUY YOUR OWN BIOSOLIDS, or manure, what have you.

  10. River Watcher says:

    Hello sunshine and thanks for your concern. I’m sitting back taking this all in and shaking my head.
    I have no new information at this point, sorry I’ve been very busy. Only reason I haven’t commeted on this article is I can’t stop laughing at it. The Mayor spoke hahaha! What Mr Wiess said WHAT, no comment! Theyre scrammbling to come up with something, why because the amount of phone calls and letters they are recieving. I say TB, they need to come up with the right answers and act concerned. They don’t “seem” to care at all but they do care only about their farmer buddies. To say this stuff is safe means they read nothing that was provided here on CDN. I had zero “experience” on biosolids, after enough research I learned a lot.

    “Clarke County studied that matter for over a year prior to adopting their ordinance,” said Berryville Mayor Wilson Kirby” Was he in office when they did this? Was he even a resident in CC then?

    “I would estimate that there are approximately 50 farmers that have chosen to use biosolids as fertilizer on their farms,” said Clarke County Environmental Planner Alison Teetor.” About 50??
    So approximately 50 farmers are more important than the entire community. I see how it is!
    What we need is, is a map of all the farm locations on where biosolids are used so residents like me can stay clear of them.

    They all need to come up with better answers than what they just provided us.

  11. Get Over It may be a farmer. If so he may be in for quite a surprise. As an ex-farmer who present the first paper against sludge use at an environmental conference in 1992, I can assure you slusge/bisolids is not safe unless you don’t mind having your land contaminated with some serious pathogens as well as toxic chemicals. This is the biggest con game every perpetuated against farmers. If it wasn’t a con game there would be no need to lie about the nature of thermotolerant E. coli known by the industry as fecal coliform. E. coli and its cousins Salmonella, Shigella, Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Citrobacter, etc., at normal body temperature are collectively in the family Enterobacteriaceae are also known as coliform. At the elevated temperature of EPA’s official test method most of these bacteria go dormant — except for a few thermotolerant E. coli and Klebsiella. Most of these bacteria are potential bioterrorism agents.

    Here is a test I did on our farm before we quit farming it.
    Soil Test Report Comparison Fecal Coliform vs Salmonella – E. coli – Strep

    Tyrell said. “The biosolids industry is heavily regulated by the EPA and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and are safe for use.” That statement is only true if complying with “§ 503.4 Relationship to other regulations. Disposal of sewage sludge in a municipal solid waste landfill unit, as defined in 40 CFR 258.2, that complies with the requirements in 40 CFR part 258 constitutes compliance with section 405(d) of the CWA.” The regulation proves the lie. http://deadlydeceit.com/503-4.html

    Incidentally, DEQ had to change its Solid Waste regulations to create these open dump sites on farmland, which are prohibited by the Solid Waste Act. Yes, these chemicals are hazardous to you health.
    Appendix II to Part 258—List of Hazardous Inorganic and Organic Constituents

    The wastewater operators are allowed to issue removal credits to industries under 40 CFR 403 Appendix G if they can get farmers to accept these toxic stew.
    403/503 TOXIC POLLUTANT REMOVAL CREDITS ALLOWED FOR AND APPLICATION AND DISPOSAL IN BIOSOLIDS http://deadlydeceit.com/403-503-removal_credit_Table.html

    On page 110 (Chapter 6) of A Guide to the Biosolids Risk Assessments for the EPA Part 503 Rule,
    (PDF file, 1143K) Questions and Answers on the Part 503 Risk Assessments, You will find EPA admitting it did not do a risk assessment for pathogens, chemicals or metals.

    We need to stop this con game now.

  12. Nancy Holt says:

    “Local Officials Say Biosolids Safe to Use.” WOW! How wonderful they know so much about the land application of sewage sludge that they can make a statement that the US-Environmental Protection Agency will not make! I suggest the local officials share their sources with all of us so we can become informed as well. There are thousands of scientific studies performed on components of sewage sludge–and usually only one. However, the US uses around 100,000 commercial chemicals in home and industrial products and any combination of these chemicals can be in the sewage sludge applied to land for crops for animals or humans. Don’t think humans eat crops grown in sludge? Check out the number of wheat, oat, rye or soybean fields you see and even the hay grown for forage. Anything in the soil can be taken up by plants–and eaten by you or by animals then eaten by you!

    It is time to stop and think of the magnatude of this method of toxic waste disposal. Why should your county’s land become contaminated from sludge shipped in from New York or New Jersey? Why don’t they convert this high BTU renewable biomass into electricity instead of creating an unhealthy land, water and air in your county? But the most important question to answer is this: Why are you doing this to your children and grandchildren? There are so many peer reviewed studies showing that environmental toxins are the precipitating cause of so many of the children’s problems–especially Autism which has grown 79% since 2000. The children of this generation and future generations–will suffer because many of the chemicals in the sewage sludge can cause multi-generational illnesses and disabilities. Ask yourself why. Is it worth free fertilizer for 50 farmers?

  13. This stuff triggered a severe asthma attack for my wife.

    Only evacuating from our home provided relief.

    What we have is a profound example of redefining a [redacted] as something other than while at the same time, infringing on human health and neighboring property rights.

    Its time to put an end to treating our farm lands as toxic waste dumps that our children will be forced to clean up.

  14. For the farmers that are begging for free toxics – how about this simple thought experiment.

    If human feces +lime cost $0.01 more than any other fertilizer you could possibly use, including turkey litter, cow manure, horse manure, would you still prefer to play in human feces or would you prefer to use something else? Why or why not?

  15. And its not free for the muncipality either – DEC/Env regulatory body will enforce odor contraints with enough complaints.

    This means that the town will end up buying odor control agents (that really dont work all that well) at $10000 per 275 gallon tote.

    Some small towns are spending over $50,000 per month in an attempt to reduce odor – and odors, my friends, is an emotional issue to some.

    And may of those some *vote*. Lets see 1 farmer vs 1000 pitchforks – who u think is gonna win that battle, hmmm?

  16. Bill Toffey’s anecdotal safety claims are not grounded in science. That sewage treatment plants are breeding grounds for antibiotic resistant pathogens has been known for years and recently been re-affirmed by researchers at the Michigan University School of Public Health: http://www.sludgefacts.org/EPWtestimony.pdf

    That sludge exposure has caused hundreds of people and animals to become seriously ill has been confirmed by field reports, published research, and court rulings.

    That EPA regulations are based on outdated science and that there is an urgent need to track health incidents has been confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences.

    For EPA and the sludge industry’s role in harassing critics and covering up problems, see

  17. Correction to the previous post:
    the link to the Michigan study is http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/7144

  18. Got-A-Dollar says:

    Everyone keeps saying “free fertilizer ” somebody’s making a buck on this stuff. When Jim Wilson was spreading it on his farm in the 70’s the supervisors put a stop to it. What’s different now?
    “Cherchez la Dollar”

    • Free Fertilizer?
      Who’s to say there aren’t grants by the State or Feds to compensate the municipality for removing this sludge product and another to the landowners/farmers to spread it on their land? State and Federal funds are given for just about anything thru grant funding and it’s our (taxpayers) funds that support them.

  19. Just watching says:

    BOS shoots down biosolids facility..

    The Culpeper County Board of Supervisors voted 5-1 to deny a use permit to Recyc Systems, Inc. and Padlands, Inc. for a biosolids storage facility in the Stevensburg District.

    Following a marathon public hearing where opponents discussed their issues with the facility and supporters pointed out Recyc Systems contributions to the community, it only took the Board about 10 minutes to decide on the fate of the storage facility.

    ”“It’s amazing someone can say it doesn’t stink,” said April Olinger of Fauquier County, who lives near another storage facility. “You could take 100 cows and slaughter them on my front yard and it wouldn’t smell as bad as the sludge.””’


  20. Just watching says:

    Gary Chandler · Colorado State University

    Prions and Sewage Sludge

    Prions alone are the reason to stop the practice of spreading sewage sludge and lies in our watersheds. Prions are a deadly form of protein that can’t be effectively stopped. They mutate, migrate, and multiply. They are a lethal threat to our food and water supplies. Prion diseases kill everything in their path. There is no cure. They are always fatal.

    We know these prion diseases as Mad Cow, Creutzfeldt Jakobs, Chronic Wasting Disease, and Scrapie. Plus, about 10-15% of Alzheimer Disease cases are actually Creutzfeldt Jakobs Disease.

    The prion pathogen spreads through urine, feces, saliva, blood, milk, soil, and the tissue of infected animals (not to mention soil and water). With those attributes, prions obviously can migrate through surface water runoff and settle in groundwater, lakes, oceans, and water reservoirs. They can be ingested by wildlife, livestock and humans (especially children). We can’t afford to take the risk of further contaminating entire watersheds – increasing the pathway to humans, livestock, and wildlife downstream.

    Prions now are such a formidable threat that the United States government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 to halt research on infectious prions in the United States in all but two laboratories. Now, infectious prions are classified as select agents that require special security clearance for lab research.

    If prions must be tightly regulated in a laboratory environment today, the outdoor environment should be managed accordingly. If we can’t sterilize surgical equipment used on people who have prion disease, why are we kidding ourselves that we can neutralize prions in sewage?

    It’s time to develop a comprehensive prion-management strategy that maximizes safeguards for human health, food, water, and wildlife around the globe. The stakes are too high for fragmented and misguided prion policies. It’s time to stop spreading pathogens and lies.

  21. Just watching says:

    What causes CWD?

    The disease agent appears to be abnormally-shaped proteins, called prions, in nervous system and lymph tissues. The prion “infects” the host animal by converting a normal protein to the abnormal form. Unlike bacteria or viruses, prions do not cause an immune response in the infected animal. Prions are resistant to enzymes and chemicals that normally break down proteins.

    CWD Snapshot – Updated 4/6/2012

    Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease of deer. Its potential impacts to our deer herd are a serious concern over the long-term. CWD has not been shown to pose a health risk to humans, livestock, or pets.

    VDGIF has discovered four positive cases of CWD in Virginia. All were killed by hunters in western Frederick County—a doe during November 2009, a buck during November 2010, and a buck and a doe during November of 2011.

    Since 2005, 108 cases of CWD have been found nearby in West Virginia. In total, over 6,500 deer have been tested in Virginia for CWD since DGIF began conducting surveillance in 2002.


    • The prion thing is no joke either. I was stationed in England in the mid 80’s when they had their Mad Cow outbreak. The government at first ignored it, then said it was no big deal. Of course, they were covering their small but influential cattle industry. Despite denials, it’s widely acknowledged that the meat from the contaminated cattle made it into the food supply. To this day I cannot donate blood because of my possible exsposure to CJD. If this stuff is in biosolids, that can only be bad news