VICTIMS DAMAGE CONTROL RATHER THAN AN INVESTIGATION OF DAMAGE CAUSED BY SLUDGE
EPA/WEF's claim that there were no documented cases of harm from land application of sewage sludge was refuted by the growing list of victims requesting assistance from Help for Sewage Victims. HELP FOR SEWAGE VICTIMS, a national nonprofit organization, was contacted by people in thirty-four states who had been harmed by the uncontrolled use of sewage sludge. Obviously, EPA was forced to do something to discredit claims of injury from all over the country from sludge use. For the purpose of debunking these horror stories, EPA appointed John Walker and Bob Bastian to work with WEF (Water Environment Federation). In their debunking project, "REST OF THE STORY," Walker and Bastian enlisted the help of the WEF by giving them a $300 thousand dollar grant.
In EPA memos dated 10-17-1994, 12-29-1994, and 2-27- 1995, WEF's contribution was discussed and Walker and Bastian suggested a potential WEF Writer/Coordinator, Dave Trouba, for the debunking effort. An additional $650,000 was given to the WEF (WEB page, March 15, 1996). While the announcement did mention a number of research projects, according to a memo from John Walker, EPA Project Officer, to Nancy Blatt and Tim Williams, Co-Project Leaders with WEF, it appeared the primary purpose of the grant was to debunk the sludge horror stories of people harmed by the use of sludge/biosolids.
The initial list of horror stories included:
1) Merco/NYC biosolids expose—TV Nations production— Law suit by TX Attorney General— Merco Lawsuit— Claims .. .marital status, owns something.
3) Miami-Dade County biosolids causing loss of papaya trees on 100 acres of land—$7 million settlement in lawsuits by Miami—Dade -covered by United Press.
4) Pending Prime Time TV story on Torres Martinez (Thermal, Ca. )—corrupt contractor, biosolids mountain, and composting.
5) Tree kill in Washington State with King Co METRO -biosolidson Weyerhauser land.
6) Miniature horse deaths in Oklahoma.
7) Bioaerosols—claim need for 2 to 5 mile barrier in NYC.
8) Banker Liability concerns—recent article in Banker magazine saying farmers do not use biosolids. -
9) Pathogen regrowth during shipment—Merco.
10) Biosolids a cause of AIDS,
11) Biosolids used on ball fields causing Lou Gehrig's Disease—what it took to debunk this claim.
12) Maryland turf grass grower crop loss due to biosolids use--involved grower's use of a highway roller on his fields.
13) Raleigh, NC—dead cattle from nitrate poisoning due to forage with high nitrogen content. Forage b bwas not mixed with other low-nitrate fodder as advised by the POTW. 14) ELM (Federal Bureau of Land Management) policy opposing use of biosolids on Federal lands: equating its use to hazardous waste dumping and landfilling raising SUPERFUND liability concerns.
15) Citizens irate over purchase of farmland for biosolids use--how land ought to be used is big - issue—private developer conflicts—NIMBY- personality clashes—often does not involve health concerns. "
According to Walker's memo, the EPA was controlling the campaign to debunk the negative publicity of adverse health effects, environmental damages and public concerns from the use of sludge as a fertilizer. Walker wrote, "the target audience may be the municipalities, contractors, WEF spokespersons and other wastewater professionals, and maybe-the general public depending on the case."
Walker sent a memorandum to Nancy Blatt and Tim Williams of the WEF telling them how the "horror stories" should be addressed. "Some of the cases may be written up for more than one audience, (i.e., differently for each different audience),"..."Interestingly, many of us in the regulatory and municipal arena do not have credibility with local citizens. We need to get those that do supplied with "The Rest of the Story."
Walker continued, "If the cases were (1.) Merco/NYC, (4) Prime Time Torres Martinez, (9) Pathogen regrowth, and (15) Citizens irate over purchase; then one audience would be the municipality." He added further, "The write up would tell municipalities what went wrong and what to do with respect to control and management oversight to maximize public acceptance and minimize negative publicity and rejection of the recycling that is planned or underway."
Walker's instructions to WEF's Nancy Blatt were: "If the cases were (2) Zander, (4) Miami-Dade, (5) Tree Kill, (6) Miniature horses, (7) Bioaerosols, (10) AIDS, (11) Lou Gehrig's Disease, (12) Turf grass loss, (13) Dead cattle in NC; then the audience might be the general public who various anti groups tell the "horrors" of these cases and to which we would tell the rest of the story."
According to Walker: "The audience might also be WEF biosolids spokesperson and/or the wastewater professionals who would be working with the general public to tell the authoritive truth. Some of the cases may be written up for more than one audience, (i.e., differently for each different audience.)"