EPA's original research on sludge composting was done by Los Angeles County
Sanitation Department. That research showed that EPA's standard test procedures didn't
find all of the pathogens in Class A compost. The study showed in 1987 that marketed
compost had the potential to be very deadly to public health.

Yanko, W.A., Occurrence of Pathogens in Distribution and Marketing Municipal Sludges,
EPA 600/1-87-014, 1987. PB 88-154273/AS, NTIS, Springfield, Virginia.

EPA and USDA have known since 1973 that liming sludge only prevents Salmonella from
being detected for about 30 days. Not only that, but lime raises the pH to 12 which
converts Chromium 3 to the very deadly chromium 6 which is readily taken up by food
crops. Plus, chromium 6 is a cancer  causing agent when inhaled on or as a dust.

Yet, the Orange County Grand Jury wants to convert all of its sludge to Class A compost
because the public perception is that composting kills all of the pathogens and cancer
may not show up for 10 to 20 year. By that time it is unlikely a connection could be make
between the cancer and the exposure. The Grand Jury findings can be found at: - EXCERPTS
Passed on by Helene Shields



Page 2 – Orange County = 230,000 tons sludge biosolids to land in California, Nevada
and Arizona – increasing public opposition – treating to Class A  would eliminate much of
the public concern regarding threats to public health and environment – health concerns
and nuisance issues.   (OCSD = Orange County Sanitation District)

Page 3 – SCOPE OF INVESTIGATION . . . Private vendor provided information on
problems associated with agricultural use of biosolids – Congressional Fellow provided
information about local concerns regarding quality of life issues and potential
environmental problems – private citizen living near sludge site interviewed to determine
issues of major concern to affected neighbors –

“Numerous internet web sites were visited to gain a sense of public perceptions and
concerns regarding land application.”

“In recent years, OCSD has been frustrated by the passage of local ordinances and rules
that have restricted use of sites, required costly treatment before application, or
completely banned the use of biosolids.   These restrictive local ordinances and mounting
public opposition portend an eventual end to the direct use of biosolids on farm lands.”

Page 4 – Sustainable options for the use of Class A sludge biosolids:  . . . to produce
compost, dry pellets and granules, or organo-mineral fertilizer products for use in
horticulture (homes, nurseries and parks), and silviculture (shade-tree programs) and dry
pellets as a fuel source – as a viable options.

Page 5:  “The pathogen reduction and vector-attraction reduction requirements are
presumptive, rather than measured limits.   Biosolids are presumed to meet the pathogen
and vector requirements if certain specified treatment processes are employed.”     (IN

Page 6:  “ . . . the general public had reservations about the practice (land application).   
Many expressed concern about potential health risks from unknown contaminants or
undefined pathogen pathways, noxious odors and other quality of life issues, and threats
to natural resources.”

“. . . the Inspector General concluded that there was a significant lack of oversight and
resources committed to the program . . . “

“EPA issued a final response to the NRC report . . . (and) . . . citing limited resources
announced it could implement 14 projects in 2004 (including) . . . survey targeted
contaminants in sewage sludge, develop methods to identify pharmaceuticals and
personal care products in sewage sludge, participate in incident tracking workshops and
conduct field studies at selected land application sites.”

Page 7 – “Several counties have issued ordinances regarding land application of
biosolids.  Kern, Kings and Riverside Counties, for example, all have issued ordinances
that ban land application of Class B biosolids.   Many of the local ordinances have been
challenged in court, and some cases are still being litigated.”

Page 8 – “In Arizona, local ordinances have placed strict regulations on, or established
permit fees to severely limited, biosolids application o farm land.”


“Opposition to land application of biosolids usually falls into one or more of three
concerns:  (1)  Apprehension about the adequacy of regulations to protect public health
(2) Odors and other quality-of-life issues and (3) Protection of natural resources.”

PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES:  “Those who support the contention that land application poses
no risk to the public often quote the opening statement in the “Overarching findings”
section of NRC’s review of Part 503:  ‘There is no documented scientific evidence that the
Part 503 rule has failed to protect public health.’”

Conversely, those who question the adequacy of the rule find substantial support for their
views in the sentences that follow the opening statement:

“However, additional scientific work is needed to reduce persistent uncertainty about the
potential for adverse human health effects from exposure to biosolids.  There have been
anecdotal allegations of disease, and many scientific advances have occurred since the
Part 503 rule was promulgated.  To assure the public and to protect public health, there is
a critical need to update the scientific basis of the rule to (1) ensure that the chemical and
pathogen standards are supported by current scientific data and risk-assessment
methods, (2) demonstrate effective enforcement of the Part 503 rule, and (3) validate the
effectiveness of biosolids-management practices.”

Pages 8-9:  “ . . . advocates of land application . . . suggest that “uncertainties” is in the
minds of the uninformed public who refuse to accept the contention that there is “no
scientific evidence” that public health has been threatened.    On the other hand, those
with an aversion to exposure to biosolids are quick to argue that the “uncertainty” is in the
lack of credible scientific studies to verify that biosolids are truly risk free.   They note the
existence of countless pathogens and multitudes of emerging chemicals
(pharmaceuticals, health-care products and industrial compounds, to name a few) known
to be present in raw municipal waste that may pass through the treatment process in
concentrations sufficient to constitute measurable risks to the public.”

Page 8 – “Psychosomatic reactions . . . “Skin rashes, respiratory problems, headaches,
gastrointestinal distress, and numerous other maladies can be manifested by real or
imagined exposure to toxic substances.”   ”. . .  to perceived risks . . . “which are
exacerbated when affected individuals personally observe evidence that they have been
exposed to hazardous substances (e.g. odors, flies, trucks transporting wastes, spreaders
broadcasting biosolids.”)

Pages 8 – 9 – Discussion of sludge odors . . . EPA’s description as “musty” or “earthy” –
versus affected neighbors’ descriptions “noxious, horrible, putrid, nauseating, eye-
watering and sickening.”

Page 10 – “Two important pathways for contamination of water resources – runoff from
treated lands and deep percolation of excess irrigation water or precipitation . . . are
difficult to control or mitigate.”

Page 10 – (Orange County) biosolids management program is faced with an increasing
level of public opposition.      “ . . . clear and convincing evidence of the tenuous future of
biosolids land application as a means of recycling is provided in a brief review of recent
developments . . . “


“In 1999, Kern County adopted an ordinance that bans land application of all except the
highest quality biosolids and established extensive monitoring requirements.   In an
attempt to retain the option of applying Class B biosolids, OCSD and others filed suit to
vacate the ordinance.   In 2002, the court upheld Kern County’s right to control biosolids
use.  In 2003, the ordinance was expanded to permitting, reported, testing and inspection
that will be supported by beneficial use fees.”

“In Kings County (where OCSD had purchased farm land for the sole purpose of
beneficially using Class B  biosolids) lengthy discussions between agricultural interests,
land appliers and the public resulted in the adoption of a ban on Class B biosolids
beginning in 2003.   Use of Class A biosolids is allowed until 2006, but only composted
Class A biosolids can be applied after that date.   Again, OCSD filed suit to overturn the
ordinance, but thus far, has been unsuccessful.”

In 2001, Riverside County issued an ordinance that banned the use of Class B biosolids
for land application but allowed limited use of Class A biosolids.  In 2003, the restrictions
were expanded to address nuisance problems related to Class A biosolids.”

“Although Arizona still allows application of Class B biosolids, (Orange County) has
experienced problems with operations in Mohave County where a newly adopted permit
fee makes application uneconomical.”  (NOTE:  The County Commissioner’s acted after
over 100 Mohave Valley residents reported illness from the sludge spreading.)        In
addition, a composting and landfill cover contract used by an OC vendor in La Paz County
was suspended because of surety-bond issues.”

“In Nye County, Nevada (where Orange County vendor obtained a 5-year permit to land
apply Class B biosolids in May 2003, complaints from affected neighbors resulted in
cessation of operations in March 2004.”  [Thanks to US Senator Harry Reid - April 2, 2004

Sludge grudge comes to end

Doug Bradley, co-owner of the Funeral Mountain Ranch, watches as a worker scoops up
sewage sludge for loading onto a spreader.         
Members of Citizens Against Sewage Sludge claimed a victory in stopping the shipment of
sewage sludge by the Orange County Sanitation District into Amargosa Valley.

Page 12 – Action(s) that could bolster public tolerance of OCSD’s biosolids management
program include:

“Treating all biosolids to Class A standards by lime addition and/or composting and
terminating all existing Class B land application projects except in remote locations.”   [MY
NOTE:  this does not  mitigate the problem of runoff contamination of surface waters and
leaching of pollutants and pathogens into groundwater.)


Increasingly restrictive local ordinances and growing public resistance has v virtually
eliminated options to initiate new Class B land application projects except in remote
locations with no nearby residents.    Current Class B land application projects may
continue for the foreseeable future but are subject to termination at any time.  OCSD
would be prudent to abandon hopes of securing future Class B land application sites and
should initiate action to eliminate existing projects.

Stabilizing all biosolids with lime and/or composting to Class A standards before land
application would demonstrate to the public that OCSD is sensitive to nuisance problems
and public health issues.”

Pages 12 –13:  IMPLEMENTING AN INCIDENT REPORTING SYSTEM – “. . . initiating a
pilot comprehensive incident-reporting data system would demonstrate sincere
commitment to addressing the concerns regarding public health and nuisance issues.”

“To be effective, an incident-report data base would need to include more than just
complaints submitted to OCSD.   To be complete, the data base also would have to
include complaints addressed to permitting agencies, land owner/appliers, haulers, health
officials and government representatives; reports from regulators and site inspectors; and
solicited observations (written questionnaires) from residents living or working in the
vicinity of the site.”

The database should contain responses to all complaints . . . a comprehensive incident
report data system would be invaluable in assessing allegations of non-compliance and
documenting clusters of health complaints that might require special attention.”

Page 13 – BIOSOLIDS CHARACTERIZATION:  “There is also a need to identify daughter
compounds (metabolites) that are produced during the treatment process.   Metabolites
sometimes pose higher risks to public health than the original compound itself.”

Pages 14 – 15  In accordance with California Penal Code section 933 and 933.05, each
recommendation requires a response from the government entity to which it is
addressed.  These responses are to be submitted to the presiding judge of the Superior
Court.    Based upon the findings, the 2003-2004 Orange County Grand Jury
recommends that

Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) phase out Class B biosolids land application
programs except in remote locations where no nearby residents will be impacted.

OCSD develop plans to stabilize all biosolids through lime application and/or composting
to Class A standards;

OCSD formulate a schedule and costs for implementing a long-range biosolids
management plan, and inform the public of anticipated cost increases;

(4)  OCSD  explore options to partner with EPA in developing an incident report data
system, conducting a  local survey of emerging compounds and pathogens in sewage
wastes and/or implementing a model program at a biosolids land application site.