EPA does not like to have its dirty secrets exposed to the light of public opinion: "A
major thrust involves using federal and private funds to pressure employers to fire
scientists who raise concerns about government policies or industry products and
practices. The most common approach used against scientists at government
laboratories and universities is to file allegations of scientific misconduct, ethics
violations, and even criminal violations".Of course, EPA does asked its employees to
commit criminal violations when it is hiding the truth from us.
However, that never stopped EPA people with a high moral standard such as William
Sanjour, Hugh Kaufmann and David Lewis. Sanjour was one of first to point to point out
the lack of science at EPA in the 70s when dealing with the sludge issue. They believe:
"It is not the whistleblower who needs protection so much as it is the public
that needs the protection of the whistleblower." Following are excerpts.
CHIEF, HAZARDOUS WASTE IMPLEMENTATION BRANCH
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT OF GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
UNITED STATES SENATE AUGUST 1, 1979
We were also told to stop looking for hazardous waste disposal sites which posed an
imminent hazard to public health, to delay getting out the regulations while we restudied
all possible options, and to keep all this from the public.
To implement this new policy, we were told to do things which we know were not right. We
were required to write public documents which we knew were misleading. The press and
Congress and the public were given misinformation while accurate information was
suppressed. Our task shifted to developing after-the-fact explanations to justify
departures from the mandates and intent of the Act. Everyone of us on the technical staff
had to make his own decision as to what extent he or she would be a "good soldier" and
obey orders or to be a good citizen and obey the law. I was not a very good soldier and as
a result I was transferred to a meaningless job out of the Hazardous Waste Management
Division where I could no longer affect the regulations.
This nation's current hazardous waste management practices are an environmental
catastrophe of staggering proportions. American industry generates over 96 billion
pounds of hazardous waste a year. Of that amount, which is roughly equivalent to the
total weight of every car now on the road, less than 10% is disposed of properly. The rest
seriously threatens the water we drink, the air we breathe and the environment we enjoy.
Included in this 96 million pound figure are chemical poisons that kill and debilitate ...
chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects and nervous system damage. Often these are
chemicals that have already made the headlines ... like asbestos, PCBs, and kepone.
The implementation of hazardous waste regulations was made subordinate to the clean
water program which was responsible for producing much of the hazardous waste.
The 1978-79 Sludge War
Sanjour said, "Municipal sewage treatment agencies and their allies in the engineering,
construction and fertilizer business dominated the policy of EPA's Construction Grants
Program and that policy was to remove any impediments to the flow of federal money into
the construction and operation of new sewage treatment plants. I saw an illustration of
that domination when I attended a meeting of a panel of the EPA Science Advisory Board
in 1976 to evaluate a proposed Technical Bulletin concerned with the health effects of
using sewage sludge as fertilizer on crops. The EPA Science Advisory Board has a
reputation for scientific objectivity which was not evidenced in this meeting. The Chairman
was the former head of the Chicago Sanitary District and the originator of Chicago's
sludge utilization program. In his opening remarks(2) he railed against the "negative
nature of the Technical Bulletin" and said "there would not be a municipal official that
would dare to approve land disposal in the form that report was proposed for our review".
His bottom line was "you wouldn't even get favorable interest rates on your municipal
bonds". The panel then proceeded to blast the Technical Bulletin without ever considering
the human heath effects of sludge utilization. As a result, the bulletin was revised so as to
be toothless. So much for science.
Earlier, in 1975, the Hazardous Waste Management Division, in which I was a Branch
Chief, was working with Congressional staffers interested in drafting legislation to regulate
hazardous waste disposal. Since many municipal sludges would meet any reasonable
definition of a hazardous waste, I wrote a memo(3) warning of the implications of including
municipal sewage sludge in the definition of solid waste in any of the proposed bills that
were being discussed. In light of the Construction Grant Juggernaut, we did not want to be
involved in that can of worms. In that memo I concluded:
What will happen, then, if Congress gives EPA regulatory authority over hazardous
wastes? Will we have one policy for hazardous wastes which go through municipal
treatment plants and a different policy if it goes through and industrial treatment plant? if
so, we will end up in court looking like fools.
Will we fail to adequately regulate industrial wastes for fear of compromising EPA's policy
on municipal sludge? If so, we will be brought into court for failure to perform our duty.
Nevertheless, when RCRA became law in October of 1976, municipal sewage sludge was
included in the definition of solid waste and my worst fears came true. As we shall see, the
result of this inclusion was not to strengthen the laws concerning the safe use of municipal
sludge but rather to weaken the regulation of hazardous waste disposal.
By September, everyone involved recognized the futility of resisting the sludge juggernaut
-- everyone but me, that is. I was finally instructed by Gary Dietrich, Jorling's hatchet man,
to weaken the standards for land farming hazardous industrial waste to the comfort level
of the Water Office, regardless of the consequences to human health(14) And the
consequences of this cruel decision were indeed far ranging and severe as not only
sewage sludge but raw industrial hazardous waste is "recycled" into fertilizer to this day
(15). Eight days after this decision I was canned(16).
Highly contaminated back-yard soils have now been found In Chicago, where sludge was
used as a mulch. Thousands of Chicago-area back yards have been contaminated in a
program that continued for one year following GAO 's warning to EPA. Many similar
programs are still ongoing nationwide--without restriction.
Another damage-causing problem not currently addressed by the regulations is
volatilizing wastes. Volatilization of landfilled hexachlorobenzene wastes in Louisiana led to
expenditures of over $380,000 and delayed marketing of 30,000 head of contaminated
cattle, See attachment 6 from EPA Publication SW-151.3, June 1976. The regulations
require safeguards against wind dispersal of contaminants but not against volatilization.
Regs. 265.302(d); 45 Fed.Reg. 33,204 (May 19, 1980). Thus, the regulations would not
have prevented this damage incident, either.
In conclusion, many of the damage cases which were used by EPA to justify passage of
RCRA would not have been prevented if the regulations recently promulgated to
implement RCRA had been in effect at the time. In some of the cases, the wastes
themselves are not regulated. In others, the wastes are regulated, but the method of
disposal is not regulated or is not regulated in such a way as to prevent the release of the
hazardous wastes. And in still other cases, especially the groundwater situations, the
failure of the regulations to mandate remedial action ensures that the damage will not be
Another an example, Dr. David Lewis said, "EPA ended all of my research funding in
1998. I was able to publish the results of one EPA research project in Nature in 1999,
however, and raise a half-million dollars in private funding (including approximately
$80,000 of my own personal funds) to continue the research. EPA then solicited help
from the regulated industry to discredit me; nevertheless, I and my co-workers at UGA
were still able to complete several projects and publish our results in BMC-Public Health,
Environmental Science & Technology, and the National Institutes of Health journal,
Environmental Health Perspectives. BioMed Central currently ranks our BMC-Public
Health paper as the eighth most widely read paper ever published by any of its journals.
EPA finally unilaterally terminated me on May 28, 2003 and I have remained unemployed
since that time.
UNITED STATES CONGRESS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
EPA'S SLUDGE RULE:
CLOSED MINDS OR OPEN DEBATE?
Dr. James Smith, a Senior Environmental Engineer for the EPA and a pathogen expert
heavily relied upon by Dr. Alan Rubin, conceded that the 503 sludge rule never was
subjected to a vigorous risk assessment based on the harmful health effects which may
arise from bacteria in the sludge."22/ He also admitted that Dr. Lewis' concern about
"undetected pathogens hiding in sludge" raised a "significant" issue23/
ABSTRACT: Case of Dr. David Lewis discussed on p. 338-39; 359
American Journal of Law & Medicine, 30 (2004): 333-69
© 2004 American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics
Boston University School of Law
Suppression of Environmental Science
Robert R. Kuehn†
In recent years, research results, rather than the scientist's religion or politics,
have motivated attacks on scientists. As environmental issues grow in economic
significance and as science takes on increasing importance in influencing public
opinion and resolving environmental policy debates, suppression of environmental
science has become "increasingly common."3 As one author observed, the power of
science to legitimate environmental positions by claiming exclusive truth makes
ownership of science "one of the most contested issues in modern
environmentalism."4 In addition, as university dependence upon industry financial
support for research on environmental science becomes more widespread, the
scientific freedom of university researchers to pursue research activities and
communicate research results is increasingly at risk.5
Blowing the Whistle on EPA's Misuse of Science
an interview with Dr. David L. Lewis (December 1997)
LEWIS comments on part 503 sludge policy regulation:
EPA scientists had a lot of concerns about turning America's farmlands into waste sites
contaminated with toxic metals and human pathogens. The science used to support the
regulation was so bad it was officially referred to within EPA as "sludge magic." But
administrators and senior managers in Washington completely overruled the agency's
scientists. I'll never forget reading an e-mail note one EPA scientist sent to Washington
after seeing that the administration included language in the final rule stating it would
protect the environment. It read: "I thought we all agreed that we don't know if this rule will
protect the environment!"
To me it's pretty scary when a handful of non-elected government officials at EPA can
decide to protect whales from potential risks and put America's food supply and the
national economy clearly at risk--turning a deaf ear to protests from their own expert
As unbelievable as it sounds, EPA set no limits to prevent the accumulation of toxic metals
and other hazardous wastes from reaching levels at which the land is no longer safe for
agricultural use. Europe, by contrast, has much stricter standards when it comes to land
application of municipal wastes.
Due to his other research activities Lewis said:
"I am no longer working on issues related to the recycling of sewage sludge. Also, in order
to avoid any potential conflicts of interest when publishing our research, I have terminated
all work as a consultant and expert witness (pro bono and otherwise) in this and all other
areas related to my research. I will not be accepting any such work in the future"