The real story of the deceit and deception unfolds in Missouri where Kansas City's sewage
treatment manager, Bob Williamson, thinks I'm irrational. Yep, he said it and Pitch Weekly writer,
Joe Miller reported it: "Officials at all levels are weary of his allegations. "He's an irrational
person," says Williamson."
Actually, I'm too old and the lives of my children and grandchildren are too precious to be
irrational when dealing with Williamson and his gang of legal experts. Of course some people
might think it a bit irrational to spend 12 years of you life researching and writing about why the
EPA and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) would want to poison our lawns, gardens and
farmland -- which in turn poisons our water and our air and exposes the public to killer pathogens
and toxic chemicals.
Lou Hobbs, on CNN's Moneyline, first brought this to the nation's attention and got a very quick
response from EPA's partner, WEF, Although WEF Director, Albert Grey, assured millions of
viewers on CNN's "Hazardous Harvest" that sludge was: 1) a material (sludge) that is carefully
processed, and 2) tightly regulated, 3) carefully monitored, and 4) fully controlled precisely for the
purpose of protecting public health", the opposite is true.
The propaganda contained in the EPA/WEF promotional PR brochures assures the public that
not only is sludge safe, but it is highly monitored to prevent any adverse health effects. EPA/WEF
public relation consultant, Powell Tate, noted the need for this strategy in its Research Findings in
1993. According to Powell Tate:
Respondents do not believe that sludge or biosolids are
well regulated. Respondents from all groups, including
some public health and elected official representatives,
are distrustful and skeptical about government and
government's regulatory abilities. This is a critical
finding. As noted above, respondents do not believe in
government, even though in many cases government
officials are some of the most knowledgeable on the
issues. This mistrust appears to effect peoples' faith
in the state and local officials that regulate the
quality and safety of the product. (p. 2)
In the WEF brochure, BIOSOLIDS RECYCLING AND BENEFICIAL USE, WEF assures the public
"Biosolids are managed by a two-tier network of
regulations. The federal Part 503 regulation, in
conjunction with the state regulations, ensure that
biosolids recycling is a safe and integral part of this
country's water quality and waste management programs."
That wasn't/isn't quite true. In an inspection report to Kansas City, dated June 23, 1994, Ellen J.
Dettman, DNR Water Pollution Unit Chief, stated, "These inspections did not address compliance
with EPA sludge regulations under 40 CFR 503. These regulations are self-implementing and
directly enforceable without being included in your state operating permits."
There is a wide disparity between what the WEF brochure claims is happening in both the EPA
and state biosolids programs and what is actually happening. Once the Part 503 was released
and the public relations campaign for disposal of toxic sludge on farms, lawns and gardens was
on track, EPA began to cut back on its involvement. To accomplish the transfer of the liability to
the states, EPA created its "gang of 10" EPA and WEF stakeholders to rewrite the federal rules to
make it easier for the states to accept responsibility for the sludge program.
The "gang of 10's" formation was reported in the August 1, 1995, issue of SLUDGE. The article
noted that the rewriting of the Code of Federal Regulations on state delegation requirements
would be given to "John Walker of EPA's Municipal Technology Branch who would submit it by
September 1 for the agency review and comments." The major change in the Code would be that
the states' attorney general could simply certify that state rules were in place to regulate sludge,
thereby, bypassing the current approval process of states' legislative bodies. There was a
qualifier, the states' rules could not be any more stringent than EPA's rules.
A special committee, the Biosolids Public Acceptance Subcommittee was created and entrusted
with a two-fold task...to gain public acceptance of sludge use and to persuade states to accept
delegation, that is, to take responsibility for administering the Part 503 rule. This committee was
composed of various stakeholders, 1) John Walker, of EPA's Office of Water, 2) state
representative, Lisa Rogers of Utah. Div. of Water Quality, which was the first state to accept
delegation for Part 503), 3) municipalities' representatives, Steve Frank of Metro WW
Reclamation District of Denver (who is now accepting radioactive hazardous waste leachate from
the Lowery superfund site, which will be included in the sludge used on Denver's 50,000 acre
farm, where wheat is grown for human consumption), George Hall of Metro Reclamation of
Greater Chicago and Mike Moore of Orange County Sanitation Dist., 4) Sludge Disposal
Companies' representatives, Jane Forste of Bio Gro Systems, Inc, and Scott Wienands of Nutri-jet
Systems, Inc., (Nutri-jet was fired by Kansas City, Missouri earlier for applying excessive amounts
of sludge at its sludge site), and 5) associated groups who also profit from biosolids
(engineering)--Lynn Green of Black & Veatch, and (agricultural studies)--Billie Harrison of The
Ohio State University. According to a memo dated July 28, 1995, Pete Machno of the King County
Department of Metropolitan Services (Seattle) is directing the Biosolids Committee.
In a 1995 letter, Walker explained the focus of the biosolids acceptance committee:
EPA has a mandate to promoting the beneficial use of
biosolids. For this to occur States need to understand
the risk assessment/science basis of the Part 503 rule
so that their rules will not be overly stringent and so
that state authorities can knowledgeably recommend to
their public that alternatives which make beneficial use
of biosolids are safe and desirable. (John Walker's
confirmation letter to Tanya Moll, Manager, NBMA. June
John walker would also write a risk assessment manual in 1995 in which he states that EPA did
not consider any of the toxic metals to be carcinogens for the risk assessment pathways it chose
to look at. Now that is sound science!
Sam Hadeed, director of technical services and legislation for the Association of Metropolitan
Sewage Agencies (AMSA) noted in the August 1, 1995 issue of the industry newsletter, SLUDGE,
"If the EPA structures the recordkeeping requirements so they are not onerous or cumbersome,
violations are not likely to be widespread. I think the states should pick up on that message."
If there are no rules or accurate records it is self-evident that there will not be any violations. Most
states did pick up on that message. However, many states like Missouri, quit making any attempt
to protect the health of their citizens, arbitrarily turning over the responsibility to EPA's Regional
sludge coordinators, who are promoting sludge use.
In a personal conversation with Ken Arnold of Missouri's Department of Natural Resources (DNR),
I was astonished to find that, according to Arnold, until 1997, EPA had funded the State Sludge
Coordinator positions to monitor the sludge application projects. Since EPA cut the funding, the
State of Missouri does not now have anyone responsible for basic monitoring of the disposal sites.
Arnold said that Missouri does not have the people to enforce the sludge rules. According to
Arnold, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources cut 20 staff positions from the
department's Water Pollution Control effort in the last half of 1997. This included the sludge
coordinator position which had been vacant since July 1, 1997.
Why was EPA paying the State Sludge Coordinators' salary and what was EPA paying them to
do? In a letter dated December 18, 1997, Arnold said, "Issues regarding 503 rules are referred to
John Dunn at the EPA Region VII office. When state issues overlap with 503 rules, EPA normally
takes the lead."
The fact is the federal government has never enforced any State rules. The States are actually
responsible for the safe disposal of solid waste. Where sludge is concerned EPA doesn't have the
people or the desire to enforce any rules that would limit sludge use. In fact, it would appear that
the sole purpose of EPA funding the state sludge coordinators position was to have them rewrite
the state solid waste rules to conform to EPA's sludge policy.
John Dunn, EPA's Region VII sludge coordinator, was responsible for selling the new sludge rules
in four states. This was a part-time job for him, since Missouri alone has 3,000-4,000 sites and
1,000 facilities which are not permitted, as well as the 1,000 which are permitted. According to
1995 notes from a National Sludge Coordinators' meeting, Dunn, stated, "I am part time on sludge
for 1/3 of my time for the States; Nebraska won't come in for delegation so I have to cover all of
those state facilities; I only have one AARP to help me for the next two years." Now, Dunn has
moved on to greener pastures in EPA.
At the same sludge coordinators' meeting, Washington State revealed that it also like Missouri
had cut back on its solid waste and biosolids (sludge) sales program. It started with 117 full time
employees in the solid waste program and 6 in biosolids. By 1995, it had downsized to 50 full time
employees for solid waste and 2.4 employees for the biosolids program.
On July 4, 1995, SLUDGE reported the concern of J. Patrick Nicholson, chief executive officer of
N-Viro International Corp [a stakeholder] about the lack of enforcement of the sludge rule by the
states. In a letter to EPA Administrator Carol Browner, he wrote "Inadequate state enforcement [of
Part 503] exists in almost every state in the union." He continued, "Yet, EPA is hanging its
reputation on a regulation that totally relies on state enforcement, and EPA is planning a
reduction in its federal program."
The Truth Emerges. EPA writes the policy which violates federal law and then says sludge is a
state responsibility. The state sludge coordinators work to change the state rules to conform to
EPA policy, then say sludge is an EPA problem. Now that type of situation could drive anyone into
an irrational state of mind.
On August 14, 1996, SLUDGE reported that EPA's proposed amendments to Part 503 included
reduced responsibilities and monitoring at the sites. According to the article, monitoring would be
left up to the permitting authority.
Since Part 503 is self-permitting, the permitting authority for sludge disposal is the treatment
plant. Sludge disposal is not a part of the current NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination
System) permit program. For the most part, the state issued NPDES permits concern the
operation of the treatment plant and the amount of pollutants in effluent which are permitted to be
discharged into surface water. The effluent is the treated water generated by the treatment
process. There are isolated instances where ground water monitoring may still be included in
NPDES permits, even though the state has no control over the sludge site. This situation
occurred in Kansas City.
Because there has been minimal to almost no enforcement of the Part 503 sludge rules in EPA's
10 Regions, many treatment plants have ignored the state NPDES permit requirements and there
have been numerous violations which have the potential to cause serious adverse health effects
and environmental damage.
SLUDGE has reported several instances of "non-compliance" and other questionable practices.
The extent of the treatment plant violations that are occurring all over the United States was
revealed in an April 24, 1996 issue of SLUDGE. According to SLUDGE, the GAO (General
Accounting Office) accused EPA of failing to appropriately classify NPDES violations. The GAO
said that one out of six of the 7,053 major regulated facilities had significant violations in 1994.
The October 6, 1997 issue of SLUDGE reported, Warner Lambert, in Puerto Rico, was fined $3
million for violating its waste water discharge permit 347 times between 1992 and 1995 by
releasing excessive amounts of pollutants. The Plant's supervisor had falsified reports on the 34
different pollutants that were required to be analyzed. He could be sentenced to 27 months in
The February 27, 1997 issue of SLUDGE reported pathogen violations in Washington DC.
According to the article, A National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) witness, Senior Attorney
Erik Olson, testified before a House Panel February 23, about "acute" bacteria violations and
other recent incidents" he claims resulted from improperly treated sewage contaminating the
water supply. The pathogens, Cryptosporidium and Giardia have been found in untreated water.
"You can ask the district if they test their sludge for Crypto, but I can tell you what their answer's
going to be," he said.
The January 26, 1998 issue of SLUDGE reported that Kansas City, Missouri violated NPDES
permit requirements at its 1,200 acre sludge application site. There was a 100,000 gallon sludge
spill at the site as well as ground water contamination from high levels of nitrogen, aluminum,
arsenic, and fecal coliform. The Birmingham Treatment Plant in Kansas City has repeatedly
violated its state issued NPDES permit. According to Missouri records, Kansas City had reported
5 recent NPDES violations, some of them more than once, and according to State records, no
one in the state DNR even acknowledged it.
Kansas City's ground water monitoring system was installed when the sludge site was created
under the solid waste landfill rules in Part 257. The State has retained the monitoring wells under
he NPDES program for the plant because, according to the Environmental Assessment Reports,
the soil was never suitable for the construction of sludge lagoons or landfills.
As adjoining landowner, we first became concerned with possible ground water contamination as
well as storm water runoff, when we saw runoff from the sludge site ponding in our field in 1989.
According to a letter dated January 22, 1996, from Daniel R. Schuette, Chief of Permits Section
for the DNR, to Terry McQuerry, Manager of Kansas City, Missouri's Wastewater Treatment, our
concern was justified. In the letter, which was in answer to McQuerry's request that storm water
sampling requirements in the NPDES permit for its sludge application site be eliminated, Schuette
wrote "We believe that there will still be discharge of storm water from the land application site."
Missouri's Water Quality brochure (WQ 427) explains the need for a storm water management
plan, "Intense storm water runoff occurs several times each year at random intervals in Missouri."
Although McQuerry answered Schuette by stating that, "The stormwater from the treatment plant
site does not flow to any water courses, but discharges onto the land application site, owned and
operated by the City," he was very much aware of the storm water runoff onto the adjacent Minter
property. The Alice Minter Trust has been complaining about the run-off since 1989. Of course, at
that time McQuerry told me if I didn't quit complaining I would get in serious trouble. Actually, it
turned out he was right, BOTH HEALTH WISE AND FINANCIAL..
In reality, part of the storm water discharges onto the adjacent Alice Minter Trust property, and
part of the storm water is discharged into the Missouri River. However, when McQuerry sent in the
storm water management plan, it only covered the treatment plant itself, not the sludge
application site as required. Apparently Schuette's requirements that Kansas City follow the 1989
state rules were too stringent, as he is no longer Chief of Permits Section.
While there are existing laws against the sewer overflows (stormwater) through the treatment
plants, they are still permitted by Missouri. According to an article in the SLUDGE Newsletter,
Missouri acknowledges, "They're illegal, but we turn our heads unless there's a problem," said Ed
Knight, Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Clean Water Commission.
Politically, our hands are tied unless there's a national policy."
It would appear that if the storm water overflows are illegal, there is a national policy covering
them. However, it is difficult to tell exactly who is responsible for enforcing the rules. According to
Ken Arnold of the DNR, stormwater runoff from the Kansas City sludge site is a federal, not a
state problem. In a letter dated December 18, 1997, he states :
The Kansas City Birmingham permit does not require
monitoring or limitations of the storm water runoff from
the agricultural crop land fields where biosolids
(sludge) are being spread at beneficial use rates. Storm
water runoff from these agricultural crop fields is
considered a non-point source under State rules as is
the storm water runoff from agricultural fields where
commercial fertilizers and pesticides are applied. The
storm water runoff onto the Alice Minter Trust property
is from an agricultural crop land field where biosolids
are subsurface injected into the soil at beneficial use
rates. The potential impact of this storm water runoff
onto the adjacent farm land would need to be addressed
under the federal rules at 40 CFR 503.
The problem is that 40 CFR 503 does not address storm water run-off from a so called beneficial
sludge site even though storm water runoff from agricultural land has long been recognized as a
major source of water pollution by the EPA. While Part 503 does include a 30 foot buffer zone
requirement, both EPA and the State claim this is not to prevent pollutants from leaving the site.
What is the buffer zone for then?
Farmers have long been blamed for polluting the nations waterways and Rubin, Walker and
Bastian are still harping on the subject. However, in spite of their program to dump toxic sludge on
farmland, they are now blaming the problems on animal manure. The situation has changed very
little since EPA report on agricultural runoff in 1984.
The EPA Journal of April, 1984 reported that "National studies suggest that agricultural nonpoint
source pollution adversely affects portions of over two-thirds of the nation's river basins."
According to the article:
About 63 percent of non-federal land in the United
States is used for agricultural purposes, including crop
and livestock production. It is not surprising,
therefore, that agricultural activities constitute the
most pervasive cause of water quality problems from
nonpoint sources. Indeed, it is considered the most
serious cause in most EPA regions." (p. 28)
When we complained to the state DNR about our most recent concern of possible ground and
surface water contamination of our land, James Macy, the new Regional Director of the DNR,
convened a meeting of the City, State and EPA officials involved. The meeting was held with us
on May 6, 1998. While Macy has no control over sludge disposal, it was Macy's stated intent that
he wanted the contamination issue resolved.
During the meeting, Kansas City's Sludge Manager, John Bozarth and EPA's sludge coordinator,
John Dunn, agreed to conduct tests to determine if the toxic heavy metals regulated under Part
503 were contaminating the 80 acres. Both also agreed to test for possible pathogen
In addition, because of high fecal coliform levels in ground water only a few feet from the property
line, a ground water monitoring test well was to be drilled on the Trust's 80 acres. Apparently, it
was Macy's intent to include the monitoring well in the NPDES permit. All testing was to be
completed by September 15, 1998.
However, when Macy followed up with the City and the EPA on the date and time for obtaining the
samples for testing, some two months after the agreement, neither the City nor the EPA replied to
his letter. It appears that they already knew there was contamination on the 80 acres. Why else
would the City have fired its Sludge Manager, John Bozarth, who agreed to the test? Why else
would the EPA have refused to conduct the tests that it had so readily agreed to do at the May
Due to the strange turn of events, the Alice Minter Trust trustees decided it might be worthwhile to
do some pathogen testing on the Trust property. Three different soil test samples were taken on
Trust property that had been subject to surface water run-off. All three samples were tested for
fecal coliform bacteria. For comparison purposes, EPA's unsafe level in water for boating is 2000
coliform bacteria per 100 ML. The test results for the soil revealed coliform bacteria levels of
3000, 9000 and one with 650,000 per 100ML. The two samples with the lowest fecal coliform
bacteria levels had also been tested for Salmonella and E. coli. To our astonishment, the results
of those two tests revealed levels of both Salmonella and E. coli at over 800,000 units per 100ML.
Those numbers along with the ground water violation reports were enough to get Investigative
Reporter Denny Brand of KSHB 41 TV station, an NBC Affiliate, interested in the story of ground
water and food contamination. When Brand tried to talk to Kansas City's Water Services
Department, all officials refused to talk to him. However, the State DNR Regional Director, James
Macy, assured Brand the State would be testing the Trust property for surface run-off of pollutant
contamination from toxic heavy metals.
As a professional water quality specialist, Macy was in a bind. He had a copy of the pathogen
tests. He knew the Trust had a sales contract for 65 acres of the land and more importantly, he
knew that there was a potential for a 400 member youth group to use the remaining 15 acres if it
was safe to do so. Macy did what any red blooded public servant would do when he's been
shafted by the City and EPA. As a representative of the State, he went on TV and declared with a
straight face that there was no harmful contamination on either the sludge site or the Alice Minter
This really put the Kansas City attorney's in deep sludge. What I didn't know at the time was that
the City had tried to buy a neighbor's property at a very low price. The neighbor told the City that
he would donate the property to the Boy Scouts before he sold it for the ridiculous price offered
by the City.
At that point, Williamson's attorneys became totally irrational. Even though City attorney, Dennis
Lee, had authored a memo which acknowledged our property rights, he personally ordered me
arrested when I started to clean up an old roadway into the property, so the sale could be
completed. Not only that, but rather than use the City's legal authority, the attorneys ran to a Clay
County Circuit Judge for an injunction to close down a public street to prevent the sale and keep
out the youth groups or even visitors to the farm.