POLICY TO POISON THE ENVIRONMENT
"Corruption is often the price of progress."
Reverend Emanual Cleaver II, Mayor, KC, Mo.
(Starbeam--Kansas City Star, 1996)
Maybe, but killing or damaging the health of people seems to be a little more than corruption. --
Before we follow a sludge train to west Texas we need to look at the situation which allowed this
deadly situation to develop. Congress had enacted all the necessary environmental laws to
prevent the sludge train from ever leaving New York City. In fact, in 1984 Congress enacted the
Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments which mandated disposal in a sanitary landfill. It would
appear that some smart young fellow at EPA figured out that if hazardous waste was considered to
be a fertilizer CERCLA and they could find a farm to dump it on then it wasn't necessary to comply
with the other laws as long as EPA had a policy on sludge use.
In 1989, EPA did propose a written policy, Part 503. However, the policy acknowledged 21 organic
and inorganic chemicals and 34 primary disease organism groups which could, after exposure on
the farm or home lawn, cause death, disease, cancer, and other assorted physical and mental
health disorders. The policy warning reflected those in the environmental laws and noted the EPA
Administrator had this information on file. The policy also noted that disease organism regrowth
was a major and expected problem.
However, it would seem, these bright young men with Ph.Ds behind their names were so far out of
their field of expertise that they didn't have a clue as to the terrible plagues they were about to
release on transporters, farmers and the public's food, air and water supply. Or worse yet, did they
As an example: As an example: Coccidioides immitis (C. immitis) is a fungus so dangerous that all
research is regulated under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Yet, many
people in the Pacific Southwest, especially California are infected each year. The primary path of
infection is by inhaling airborne dust particles. For the most part, symptoms are mild and the victim
may not even be aware they are really sick.
However, according to biologist John Taylor, about 10% of the victims will become seriously ill and
about 1% of the victims will die from a fatal lung disorder. According to an article in Newsday and
republished in the Kansas City Star, "-- C. immitis is viewed as a potential lethal agent that could
be dispersed in warfare or in an act of terrorism."
The findings that this deadly disease organism spread in human and animal feces could be used
to trace the path of ancient human migration through the Americas was recently reported in the
Proceedings of the National Science Academy by Taylor and his colleagues at Roche Molecular
Systems in Alameda, California.
The major problem for EPA and the sludge producers was that the 1989 policy was to
conservative, it was too protective concerning food crops, water supplies and the proposed buyers
-- farmers and home gardeners -- and worse of all, it talked about some of the disease organisms
which could kill them.
There is no doubt, the ocean dumping ban did create a major problem for New York City where
there was very little available landfill space. In a letter to EPA Administrator Reilly, dated June 5,
1989, Commissioner Harvey Schultz of New York City's Department of Environmental Protection,
explained the economics of New York City's situation, if the Part 503 rule was adopted as it was
proposed. "...Compliance with the pollutant standards would be difficult, if not impossible, to
achieve." "...no disposal option covered by the proposal would be allowed or feasible for eighty
percent of the City's sludge." In closing, Mr. Schultz urged Mr. Reilly; "Considering the economic
and environmental importance of these regulations, the large volume of potentially beneficial
sludge affected, and the cost and paucity of landfill space, I urge you to devote the necessary
resources to revise 503 in accordance with the best available technical information."
As is evident from the documents, for some cities it would have been impossible to meet the
standards for beneficial use in the Proposed Part 503; and many sludge application sites could
have already far exceeded the regulated level.
As a result of these backdoor political shenanigans, the EPA created the final Part 503 regulation;
it is a unique regulation, it is based on several exclusions and exemptions in the laws: 1) the
domestic sewage exclusion for hazardous waste in the sewer pipes to the treatment plant; 2) the
exemption for commercial fertilizer in the Superfund Act; 3) the statutory exemption for
contaminated agricultural surface water run-off; and 4) the lack of any enforceable soil standard
for pollutants -- particularly, disease organisms.
Based on these exclusions, EPA is authorizing the clean up of toxic and radioactive hazardous
waste Superfund Sites by piping the waste into treatment plants. Denver is a good example. The
concentrated toxic sludge from the treatment process will either be disposed of on food crop
production land or perhaps on your lawn.
At the New Hampshire conference, EPA's Hugh Kaufman pointed out how economic interests had
caused the revision of the 1989 proposed 503 Sludge Rule which he said were similar to the rest
of the developed world--Canada, Germany and other European countries. He says:
As a result of that proposed regulation, politicians
from all over the country started to pressure EPA--a
young senator, Al Gore from Tennessee, the head of the
Environment Protection Agency in New York City--all of
them implying and/or stating directly that they could
not land apply their sludge if EPA promulgated the
regulations that were similar to the rest of the
developed world. So what EPA did was, they did a survey
of most of the big city sludges to determine the highest
levels of contaminates in those sludges, and then they
modified the proposals so that all the big city sludges
would be allowed to land apply their sludge."
One of the selling points in the EPA/WEF's promotion to farmers is their claim that the farmer and
his family will not be harmed by the use of sewage sludge and there will be no liability under the
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Superfund
Act), if the Part 503 is followed and sludge use is considered to be a "normal application of
In spite of all the EPA/WEF rhetoric about the lack of danger to the health of the farmer from
sludge use, sludge, fertilizers containing hazardous waste put farmers at risk. In the book, TOXIC
DECEPTION (1996) Dan Fagin and Marianne Levelle, and the Center for Public Integrity, cited
research done by Aaron Blair and Sheila Hor Zahm, at the National Cancer Institute, "who have
conducted at least seven studies of farmers (a population that by most measures is healthier than
the rest of us)," which showed increased cancer among farmers. They quoted the researchers as
saying, "we found unexpectedly high rates of leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, non- Hodgkin's
lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the bone, brain, connective tissue, eye, kidney, lip,
pancreas, prostate, skin, stomach, and thyroid." (p. xvi)
EPA's Chief Salesman appears to be USDA's Rufus Chaney who appears to believe toxic and
hazardous waste is good for the farmer and home gardener. However, he wasn't originally sold on
EPA's sludge dumping program. The December 1992, Water Environment Federation Washington
Bulletin noted there was some discontent in the sludge industry with the proposed Part 503 rule.
Rufus Chaney, USDA, didn't think the EPA limits for cadmium, chromium, molybdenum and
selenium were in the best interest of agricultural. He claimed there was no technical basis for
cadmium at 39 mg/kg and it should be 25 mg/kg. He did not think chromium should be regulated,
molybdenum should be double the current 18 mg/kg and selenium should be less than 36 mg/kg. It
was also his contention that the "clean sludge" concept "is a whole lot different regulatory
approach and it needs to be honest." (p. 3)
The EPA released "A Guide to the Biosolids Risk Assessments for the EPA Part 503 Rule" in
September 1995 which acknowledged that the risk assessment was a sham. The only cancer risk
assessment was based on the organics that were proposed for regulation, but were never
According to the writers, EPA's John Walker, Linda Stien, Robert Southworth and James Ryan, as
well as USDA's Rufus Chaney, "--the Part 503 metals were considered noncarcinogens (they do
not cause or induce cancer) for the exposure pathways evaluated." (pp. 110-11). The government
has known for years that these metal were carcinogens. The fact is that no federal agency offers
any rules to protect the farmer -- OSHA only protects employees in the commercial workplace.
These bright young Ph.Ds also seem to be clueless about the nature of PCBs which are not
biodegradable. In 1992, the Madison (Wisconsin) Metropolitan Sewage District (MMSD) proposed
to EPA that it would clean up a PCB contaminated sludge lagoon on the Superfund list by using
the toxic sludge as a fertilizer on farmland. According to MMSD, it had mass-loaded soil with 170
ppm PCBs and found that they disappeared from the soil. It claimed there was no plant uptake or
groundwater contamination. (EPA weighs PCB levels, (Sept. 7, 1992), ENR `Engineering News
These bright young Ph.Ds don't know what caused the PCBs to disappeared or where they went,
but still claim the documents prove it's safe.
"It (the research) documents that land treatment can be done in a way that is still protective of
human health and environmental quality," says David Taylor, manager of MMSD's Superfund
clean-up and its Metrogro fertilizer program." Not only that, "But signs already indicate that EPA's
future regulation of PCBs in soil will focus less on TOSCA's rigid 50 ppm limit and more on MMSD's
type of risk based, mass-loading criteria of pounds per acre." The MMSD and it's Metrogro
program have been furnishing farmers with TOSCA "approved" sludge since 1979.
It would appear that may not be all MMSD was furnishing farmers in the Madison area. The 100+
pathogens can be genetically modified by other toxic pollutants in sludge and they can survive for
long periods of time in the environment. Most of these pathogens, including Salmonella and E. coli,
are not inactivated (not destroyed) by any temperature less than 121 degrees Celsus. However,
lower temperatures will cause them to create spores (hard outer shells) which makes them
non-detectable for a short period of time. EPA and USDA have known for 30 years that even lime
causes the same phenomenon. While these bright young Ph.Ds may not have done their
research, EPA and USDA have also known for years that lime causes Chromium 3 to convert to
the very deadly carcinogenic Chromium 6.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin--Madison's veterinary medical teaching hospital
studied an outbreak of drug resistant salmonella anatum in horses in 1991. An epidemiologic
investigation was done. A number of horses referred to the University were found to have the drug
resistant salmonella strains from several locations in Illinois and Wisconsin. They also found
several other drug resistant strains of enteric bacteria, including E. Coli. According to the study,
"After may 1991, several horses from which S anatum was isolated were admitted at various time
from various geographic locations, suggesting S anatum may have been endemic in the horse
population in the area surrounding the veterinary medical teaching hospital and private veterinary
clinic. Extensive bacteriological surveys of horses in the area would be require to document this
possibility." (Control of an outbreak of salmonellosis caused by drug-resistant Salmonella anatum
in horses as a veterinary hospital and measures to prevent future infection. (August 1. 1996)
JAVMA Vol 209, No. 3, p. 629.)
MMSD's request for the use of hazardous PCBs contaminated sludge on food crop production land
has the backing of Rufus Chaney. "Public interest and common sense dictate that [MMSD's
request] be granted," says Rufus Chaney, a research agronomist and consultant to the
U.S.Department of Agriculture."
In a series of articles in the Seattle Times, FEAR IN THE FIELDS, reporter, Duff Wilson, on July 3 &
4, 1997, exposed what could be also be a contributing factor to not only farmers adverse health,
but damage to animal health and environment. It also illustrates the EPA's handling to toxic and
hazardous sludge. According to the article, farmers in the little town of Quincy, Washington "were
wondering why their wheat yields were lousy, their corn crops thin, their cows sickly." An
investigation led by Quincy Mayor Patty Martin, revealed the fertilizer used by the farmers was
made from hazardous waste. "It's really unbelievable what's happening, but it's true,"
Martin said, "They just call dangerous waste a product, and it's no longer a dangerous waste. It's a
Wilson gave several examples where EPA allowed hazardous waste to be used as a fertilizer--with
a simply name change. In one case, toxic metal waste went into the top of a Bay Zinc Company silo
under an EPA hazardous waste storage permit and emerged out the bottom as an unregulated
fertilizer. Bay Zinc's President Dick Camp said, "Don't ask me why. That's the wisdom of the EPA."
Wilson found that in Gore, Oklahoma, radioactive waste was licensed as a liquid fertilizer and
sprayed on 9,000 acres of grazing land. Unsuspecting farmers in Tift County, Ga. lost 1,000 acres
of peanuts when they used hazardous waste mixed with lime.
Wilson found that. "Canada's limit for heavy metals such as lead and cadmium in fertilizer is 10 to
90 times lower than the U.S. limits for metals in sewage sludge. "He stated, "The United States has
no limits for metals in fertilizers." Canadian Regulator, Darlene Blair, says, "Sorry, but we won't
compromise our health." Unlike the Canadian regulatory agency the EPA and USDA take the
opposite approach. USDA's Rufus Chaney followed the EPA line, when he spoke to Wilson, He
said. "It is irresponsible to create unnecessary limits that cost a hell of a lot of money."
Canada may not compromise the publics health on metals, but it sure did with disease organisms
in sludge. Now it has to contend with the dead and dying from contaminated well water in
Walkerton and other small communities.
Chaney also revealed the real nature of the 1989 Peer Review hatchet job on the proposed Part
503 when he told Wilson, "Recycle and reuse, that's our national strategy," said Chaney...."It costs
so much more to put it in a landfill." In Wilson's article, Maryam Khosravifard, staff scientist for the
California Department of Food and Agricultural, revealed what everyone else has failed to
recognize. Maryam said, "EPA is in charge of getting rid of these materials. They do reuse and
In fact, EPA is doing its best to phase out landfills -- because they are too dangerous -- they
actually contaminate the environment!
Edward Kleppinger, a former EPA employee who wrote hazardous waste rules, told Wilson, "The
last refuge of the hazardous-waste scoundrel is to call it a fertilizer or soil amendment and dump it
Hazardous waste in fertilizer is not new Milwaukee has been selling this dangerous material to the
public since 1926. Before 1985, the tannery waste chromium in Milwaukee's sludge fertilizer,
Milorganite, was "Listed" (known) by EPA as a hazardous waste. In 1985, EPA began promoting
the use of hazardous waste as a fertilizer without warning the farmers or the public of the adverse
human health effects associated with the dangerous materials.
As the state agencies have slowly realized how skillfully the EPA has led them into becoming a
partner in the destruction of our environment, the states have cut back on their enforcement
efforts. As we noted earlier, Missouri and Washington are examples of states who cut back on
enforcement personnel. Wilson also discovered that many states are cutting back on their
laboratories. According to the article, "Testing for heavy metals would cost $50,000 to $150,000 in
capital investment for the typical state lab. plus additional staff, plus $10 to $60 per sample. Some
states, like "New York, don't even test for nutrients anymore," according to the article. In effect they
are dropping their regulatory apparatus and putting the responsibility on EPA. As Wilson notes,
"The EPA, meanwhile, is focusing not on testing or regulating but on promoting waste recycling."
One of the recommendations of the Part 503 Peer Review Committee which would help to increase
the beneficial use of sludge was to * Develop the concept of a "clean sludge" which allows minimal
regulation. In other words, the Peer Review Committee wanted to make it easy for the POTWs by
not requiring any additional paperwork. Any paperwork would draw attention to the product and the
toxic contents. Paperwork would also allow tracking of the product for liability purposes. Clean in
this case only means there is a little less of some of the toxic metals in the products.
Another recommendation of the Peer Review Committee was * Not regulate all D&M (distributing
and marketing) products as a sludge. In effect, take the labeling requirements off, so the public will
not know they are buying this toxic and extremely hazardous material.
Actually, the Peer Review Committee's recommendation to market sludge as a "clean" Exceptional
Quality (EQ) product violates basic consumer protection rights, as stated by President John F.
Kennedy in the 60s: 1) The RIGHT TO SAFETY; 2) the RIGHT TO BE INFORMED; 3) the RIGHT
TO CHOOSE; and 4) the RIGHT TO BE HEARD. It also violates the Constitutional rights as well as
the terrorism laws.
1) RIGHT TO SAFETY
The consumers right to safety is ignored in the distribution and marketing of the "clean" EQ toxic
contaminated sludge product for use on home lawns, gardens, school grounds and parks,
because the consumer is unaware of the unstated dangers contained in the products. The danger
is from pathogens in the product, the additional regrowth of pathogens, and the inhalation or
ingestion of toxic organic chemicals and toxic heavy metals when the product is used. The
marketers of EQ sludge know that if the purchasing consumer was aware this product contained
lead, mercury, cadmium, dioxins, PCBs and disease causing organisms such as E. coli and
Salmonella, etc., they would never buy it. No parent would ever expose their children to this toxic
fertilizer mix if they were aware of its contents.
2) RIGHT TO BE INFORMED
The consumer's right to be informed is disregarded in the promotion of the "clean" EQ toxic sludge
product. Through deceptive advertising they are led to believe there is no danger from the EQ
product used as a fertilizer. As there is no labeling required on EQ products as with all other
consumer products, the consumer is kept in the dark concerning the quality of the toxic pollutant
contaminated product. How could there be any instructions for its safe use, when no one knows
whats in the product?.
3) RIGHT TO CHOOSE
Because of a lack of information on the contents and use of "clean" EQ sludge products, the
consumer is unable to make a wise comparison among toxic contaminated sludge, manure and
other commercial fertilizers not containing dangerous mixtures of toxic substances. The right to
choose a safe product has been subverted by EPA.
4) RIGHT TO BE HEARD
The way the product has been packaged and promoted the consumer's right to be heard will never
happen. They will never associate any acute adverse health effects, i.e., a child playing in the yard
where sludge was spread as a fertilizer, who becomes ill or dies from exposure to worms, E. coli or
Salmonella that has regrown in the product, with the product itself. Subchronic and chronic effects
from exposure to toxic heavy metals and deadly organic chemicals, such as cancer, immune and
reproductive system damage, which would take years to show up, would never be connected with
In the beginning, the people of this country went to war over a tax on tea. What do you think the
people will do when they find out EPA is slowly poisoning our farmland, air, water, food supply and
spreading plagues with its beneficial fertilizer program? Its all there in the government documents.