Deadly Deceit
                                      CHAPTER 1

                          Sacrificial Lambs

In Lynden Washington, two girls, Ashley Zander, a slim

eight year old with naturally curly brown hair and blue eyes,

and Diana Zander, her brown-haired blue-eyed ten-year old

sister are laughing and playing at their grandparents' home.

At first glance, they appear to be normal, healthy girls but

already they are showing the effects from exposure in the

womb to sewage sludge pollutants in the contaminated water

their mother unknowingly drank while carrying them.

Ashley is almost hyper, she can't concentrate and has an

attention deficit.  Diana is very fragile and her feelings

are hurt quite easily.  She is already exhibiting diminished

mental capacity and learning disabilities from the

contamination.  Unlike her younger sister Ashley, Diana's

formula was mixed with water from the contaminated well.

She's also suffering from stomach and liver problems. Diana

picked up blastocystis hominis, a waterborne parasite, found

only in human feces from bathing in contaminated water. The

medicine they gave her to get rid of the parasite has left

her with an irritated stomach.  Their mother was recently

(July, 1998) diagnosed with having two types of fecal

parasites in her blood. Ashley and Diana are the grand-

children of Linda and Raymond Zander.

For twenty eight years Linda and Raymond had lived in a

picturesque yellow two story house on their productive dairy

farm in Lynden, Washington. The house was majestically

situated on a well manicured lawn, abundantly surrounded by

fruit trees and sugar maples and rhododendrons that every

spring burst into bloom. Then the tragedy struck.  Linda and

Raymond's family became unknowing victims when Western

Services, a sewage sludge hauler, began spreading sludge on

70 acres of a neighbor's farm.

Sewage sludge is the residue of all of the material

flushed down the toilet and sinks from homes as well as all

of the hazardous materials flushed down the drains from

industry, hospitals, and newspapers.  In many cases, it

includes the toxic material washed into street storm water

drains such as petroleum products, cadmium, lead, etc.

Sludge is produced when sewage wastewater is treated to

remove most of the solids which contain infectious disease

causing organisms as well as hazardous organic chemicals,

which include materials from the home such as drain cleaners,

pesticides, and surfactants from washing detergents.  Sewage

sludge also contains toxic inorganic chemicals such as the

heavy metals arsenic, lead, chromium, mercury, nickel, etc.

As a result of the Zanders' exposure to the various

toxic pollutants contaminating the sewage sludge, through air

and water as well as the food chain, the odds of this middle-

aged couple living to a ripe old age are somewhere between

slim and none.  Linda is suffering from chemically-induced

brain damage, thyroid problems, and immune system damage. She

also had mycoplasma pneumonia.  Raymond suffers from

hypothyroid, lupus and nickel toxicity.

As nickel is also a carcinogen, he is faced with the

prospect that he could also develop cancer.  Linda's eyesight

has also been affected; she has been warned that there is a

possibility that she could go blind. The terrible physical

and mental suffering that they have had to endure, through no

fault of their own, is etched in their faces, the pallor of

their skin and the carriage of their bodies. It has aged

them. Linda's once blonde hair, now turned dark, is streaked

with gray.  Raymond's once clear, expressive, blue eyes are

now dull and expressionless reflecting the pain that he daily


Within a year after the sludge spreading began on their

neighbor's farm, changes began occurring in their normally

healthy dairy cows.  The records from the Whatcom Community

College Farm Management show the milk average from their

dairy dropped from 19,892 lbs.  in 1988 to 16,575 lbs. in

1990.  By 1989, several cows had developed severe arthritis

in their hindquarters.  Calves were being born with strange

tendon abnormalities.  Becoming alarmed by the worsening

condition of the herd, the Zanders contacted Dr. Susan Cook,

an independent water quality specialist, to analyze their

well water.  When Dr. Cook analyzed samples from the Zanders'

well and the wells in the area that had a similar soil

profile, she found the Zanders' well contained nickel and tin

not found in the other wells and normally not found in any

rural wells.  Checking sludge analyses reports for 5 of the

municipalities, whose sewage sludge was being spread on the

adjacent property, they discovered the metals found in the

well were also found in the sludge. At about the same time

the dairy herd was being adversely affected from drinking the

tainted well water, Linda and Raymond, who also drank the

well water, were starting to experience ill health.

Linda learned the hard way that the regulatory agencies

(county, state and federal) who are responsible for ensuring

the health and well-being of its citizens will do nothing to

help them. When Linda went to Whatcom County Health

Department seeking their help, she knew she would get no

assistance from anyone in the department when she learned

that it was the Health Department who had approved the land

application of the sludge that was making them ill.

In 1988, the Whatcom County Health Department had issued

a permit, with the approval of the State Department of

Ecology as required by state law, for the land application of

sludge on the Van Dalen Farm. The county renewed it in 1989,

without the approval by the state as required by the state

law.  When Linda presented evidence to the County showing

that the permit should not have been issued in the first

place and asking that it be revoked, her evidence was ignored

and the permit was re-issued with out the approval by the

state.  The permit to spread sludge should never have been

granted in the first place because of the pH of the soil.

Soil samples taken from the site adjacent to the Zanders'

property showed a pH of 4.8 to 5.5 which did not meet site

regulation requirement of the State and Federal governments

policy which required a pH of 6.5. The Guidelines for sludge

application of the Department of Ecology (D.O.E.) stated that

soil with a low pH allows heavy metals to mobilize and move

into plant tissue and ground water. The highly acid peat soil

allowed the toxic metals in the Van Dalen's soil to leach out

of the soil and into the ground water which contaminated the

Zanders' drinking water well. Further investigation revealed

that toxic chemicals from the site were also volatizing into

the air. They were inhaling as well as ingesting the toxic

poisons through the water, milk, plants and meat.

It wasn't until the Zanders appeared before the Whatcom

County Hearing Examiner, Edward Good, contesting the re-

permitting that they were able to get the sludge dumping

permit revoked.  The permit was revoked by Good with

prejudice and prima facie facts--68 findings of fact in

violations of the law.  The permit had been wrongly granted.

Although the Zanders had stopped the legal dumping of sludge,

illegal dumping was carried on in the early hours of the


In a series of personal interviews and correspondences,

Linda Zander related to us the terrible ordeal she and her

family have gone through, the painful, debilitating diseases

they are daily suffering from, their callous treatment by the

County, and State whom they turned to for help, destruction

of their livelihood, shunning by some of their neighbors,

harassing phone calls at all hours, destruction of their

property, threats to their lives, and finally bankruptcy.

The Zanders no longer live in the picturesque yellow two

story house.  The Pollutant contamination on their farm

became so great that they were forced to move from their home

of twenty-six years, the home they had planned to live in

until they died.  Many of their trees are now dead or dying.

Although the rhododendrons will still bloom in the spring,

they will not be there to see them. It is eerily quiet there

now.  No dairy cattle are lowing, and no children are

laughing and playing on the well-manicured lawn. The croaking

of frogs is no longer heard for they have disappeared from

the polluted creek.  Salmon no longer swim in the creek.

Pollutants in the creek sediment have destroyed the eggs, the

fry and the fish.  Linda has only returned one time to the

farm since they moved. She accompanied Dr. Singer, a

neurotoxicologist, who wanted to visit the farm.  The air was

so contaminated with pollutants, it stung their eyes and made

breathing difficult. After only 15 minutes they were forced

to leave.

In a National Sludge Alliance News Brief, dated 2/98

Charlotte Hartman, director, related that when the

Zanders' farm was up for auction by the government FHA, there

were no takers even for one dollar. According to the news

brief, "The Zanders had placed disclosure on all three

titles. But the environmental assessment and most of the

contaminates, combinations of materials and the water borne

parasites, Blastocystis Hominis were not considered by FHA.

FHA is now worried about liability and it has been suggested

that lands be placed in priority conservation easement for 40

years, board up the house and let it sit!"

No one can tell Linda's story of the physical suffering

and mental duress she and her family have had to endure

better than Linda herself. I have chosen excerpts from

Linda's diaries where she painfully describes the ordeal they

were put through because they happened to have the misfortune

to live next to land where sewage sludge was applied.


We are now suffering economically as well as physically.

The bank has refused to give us the operational farm

loan that they had already approved and which was

federally secured by FHA.  Without the loan, we are

going to be forced to sell our remaining dairy herd and

file bankruptcy. We will have to let our farm and home

go back to the FHA in payment of our debt.

Destruction of Property

Our car has been maliciously damaged on rear top of

fender and scratched across the top. More harassment--

plain and simple.

Dad arrived--small caliber gun shot out his camper

window last night. Shell's inside somewhere.  I called

the sheriff for him. We will file a harassment


Dave, our milker, had his car broken into, window broken



Got a harassing phone call from a female. She wanted to

talk to Sindraella Zandella. Called it in. It should be

very interesting to find out who is doing this.

Another harassing phone call. This time asked for jock

strap. It was a male voice. Must get police number and

recorder on Tuesday. Enough is enough.

Dad was here today. His bank statements, and personal

mail are being opened and taped shut. I called David,

the postal inspector, and mailed the envelope to him.

Mail from Bricklin was opened. We are horrified.  First

our phone was tapped, now the mail is opened.  Tampering

with the mail is a crime. Sent the opened letter to the

Federal Postal Investigator. We will have to get a post

office box in Bellingham tomorrow.

Mental Duress

I am terribly sad and feel like crying again.  There is

no end to what these people have done to all of us.  How

can this go on and on? When will we get relief?

We just feel like walking out of here. It physically and

mentally hurts us to be here; twenty five years of

farming and its down the drain. All our hopes and dreams

for a comfortable retirement are gone.

I wonder if more of us will die before we get out of

here. To look at this place, one would ever know it's

contaminated. Funny how looks can be deceiving.

Midnight Dumping

There was an illegal dump of sewage sludge last night in

the neighborhood. The smell permeates the air. Ray and I

are both extremely sensitive to it.

Unbelievable but Western Services are still night

dumping. Tanker truck and train came into Van Dalens

last night.

Western Services did it again. Time 1:50 a.m.  The

sewage smell woke me up. I am nauseated, my sinuses

hurt, head aches, its hard to breathe.

Physical symptoms

Ray and I are both physically spent! I'm terribly sleepy

and tired. Ray is the same and has a sinus infection.

Our resistance to infections is very low. My eyes are

sore and red.

Nickel tests came back and Ray is showing nickel

exceeding a level considered maximum. Our research was

right on and we were right. Synergistic effect also with

tin, nickel and manganese exceed lead. No wonder Ray is

in pain!

Ray is in excruciating pain. Ibeprophen doesn't help

much and he is sleeping in a chair! I hurt and have had

a headache that just goes on and on.  Medicine helps but

as soon as its effects wear off, pain again.

Our health symptoms match our cows. That is not

comforting, in fact, it's scary! What will be the long

term effects from chronic exposure? The new book on

toxic effects of metals shows Ray is in the 90% risk for

carcinogenic tumors and lung problems from nickel. That

is most unsettling.

The Polluted air

The air was so intense and putrid you could actually

taste it in your mouth and smell it in your

perspiration. The smell of urine, feces, rotten

vegetables permeated the air.

Reaction of the County

Talked to Bert Brainerd, the health officer. He listened

to my complaint that sludge was making us sick, and then

he said, "What are we going to do with it?" I told him

if it was so safe, put it in city hall. After standing

there with his mouth partly open he said "but there's

hardly anybody out there." Meaning we don't count; we

are expendable.

Threats to our lives

If we hadn't had those four big dogs, we wouldn't be

alive today. Last night we were awakened from our sleep

by the dogs loud nonstop barking. When we let them out

of the garage and the house suspecting someone up to no

good might be out there, they took off. We heard a

ferocious growl from the Malamute, then someone yelling,

and a car starting up.  The next morning we found a

steel rod in the path in front of the house. When we

called the law, the officer who came out said when we

showed him the steel rod, "The news would have read

couple killed by a blunt instrument--and this steel rod

would have been the murder weapon." The Malamute must

have grabbed whoever was holding the steel rod by the

wrist forcing him to drop it.

Another attempt on my life. When I was coming down the

Trapline Rd. toward Everson, a red 3/4 ton pickup truck

headed straight for me on my side of the road. To avoid

being forced off the road, I stopped dead still. I don't

know what would have happened to me if a county road

maintenance truck hadn't come along then. When the

driver of the red pickup saw the maintenance truck, he

crossed over to his own side of the road and continued


Another near miss today.  I'm glad I listened to the

lawyer's advice about taking different roads and not the

same one every time I went out. I never noticed the one

ton truck that was following me West on Pangborn, but my

folks who lived just off the road did.  They told me the

truck followed me for awhile, then turned off the road

taking a short cut which would have put it on the road I

used to drive everyday. I wonder what surprise was

waiting for me there.  He was the one who got the

surprise, I didn't take that road.

A light green farm pickup with a gas tank on the back

almost got Ray today while he was on the tractor. It was

traveling right at him at a high speed that Ray

estimated was in excess of 90 miles per hour. Ray was

able to get far enough away to avoid getting hit. He was

lucky the way the land was sloping that when he was

forced off the road that he didn't turn the tractor over

on top of him.  If he had the murder would have looked

like an accident.

Ray fears that I will be killed. So many that we have

helped are winning their fight against the so called

"beneficial use" of sludge that are making people sick

and destroying property and livelihoods. I do believe

Ray may be right, but I will continue to help anyone I

can; I do not fear death.

Linda confided to me that her greatest worry is what

will be the long-term effects from the exposure of the

pollutants in the water and air on her precious little

granddaughters.  She had good reason to fear the worse. A

hired hand and friend had died from questionable causes.

Linda's worst fears were realized when Dr. Singer, a

neurotoxicologist, performed a neurotoxicity screening on

Ashley and Diana. The tests showed the children were

exhibiting the same symptoms experienced by patients

suffering from neurotoxicity.  The doctors report for the

girls was short and to the point:

Ashley Zander

Neurotoxicity Screening Survey 9/14/97

The Overall Neurotoxicity Indicator: 273 (cutoff=206)

Performed by Raymond Singer, Neurobehavioral Toxicologist

Elevated score indicated that Ashley reported symptoms in

that category similar to those reported by patients with

neurotoxicity. This respondent's responses were consistent

with neurobehavioral toxicity. Symptom categories in which

there were elevated scores were Memory and Concentration,

Autonomic Nervous System, Vision, Smell-taste, Sensory-motor,

Chemical Sensitivity and Emotionality.  Two symptom

categories were borderline--Hearing and Peripheral numbness.

Only two were within normal limits--balance and distortion.

Diana Zander

Neurotoxicity Screening Survey 9/14/97

The Overall Neurotoxicity Indicator: 289  (Cutoff=206)

Performed by Raymond Singer, Neurobehavioral Toxicologist

Elevated score indicated that Diana reported symptoms in that

category similar to those reported by patients with

neurotoxicity. This respondent's responses were consistent

with neurobehavioral toxicity. Symptom categories in which

there were elevated scores were Memory and Concentration,

Autonomic Nervous System, Vision, Peripheral Numbness,

Sensory-Motor, Chemical Sensitivity, Emotionality. Three

symptom categories were within normal limits--Hearing,

Balance, and Smell-Taste.

Teresa Hansen of Laurel Hill, Florida is another

grandmother who is concerned about the health of her grand-

children, who were exposed to the pollutants in sewage


In an impassioned letter to the Secretary of the Florida

Department of Environmental Protection, she asked for help

because as she wrote "By the time we find someone who cares

enough, who knows what damages will have occurred to the tiny

systems of my grand-children?"

Excerpts from her letter show her frustration when she

tries to get protection for her grand-children:

Dear Secretary Virginia Wetherall,

    I am sending this letter and video to you in the

hopes that someone out there will care enough to stop

what is happening in our area. Waste-water residuals

[sewage sludge] are being applied improperly to the

lands in our area. Residual run-off has contaminated the

total yard belonging to my daughter and her young

family. The children have had numerous disorders

including abnormal levels of protein, bilirubin, and

lead in their bloodwork. My 7 year old granddaughter has

had fecal samples tested (at the insistence of my

daughter) by the local health department. The fecal test

results have come back with the parasite, Blastocytitis

Hominis, present in my granddaughter's system.

    We understand this to be a parasite originating

from human feces, and not usually found as a parasite

problem in this country. My daughter is a very health

conscious, clean person who trys to practice preventive

health measures. Neither the family or the children have

been out of the country to contract this parasite.  We

have exhausted any and all chain of command agencies in

our area. The Department of Environmental Protection, at

all turns, has upheld the workings of the man applying

the waste materials.

    My daughter's home sits in the middle of about 600

acres of what is apparently a sludge application site.

They did not know this when they bought their home. No

notification was provided to them of what was being

spread around them.  However, the owner of the farm that

applies the sludge did know that people lived there with

small children, and he applied the sludge right up to

their fence line for months until asked not to apply it

so close to their property. Until information was

discovered by my daughter and her husband of the dangers

of contact with the sludge materials, the family dog was

not leashed, and would occasionally roll in the

adjoining fields where sludge was applied. Now, the

family pet has lost urinary tract control, and has been

tested with extremely high levels of protein in her

system, which is obvious when the liver and kidneys are

no longer able to filter the poisons from the body.

The local health department official tells me that one

family incident where a whole family has disorders never

before experienced does not constitute enough evidence

for there to be a health concern of enough magnitude to

allow them to become involved in searching for possible

public health hazards. The DEP does not seem to care,

the health department, I feel, is being pressured by the

DEP to not get involved in sludge matters; our State

Representative has not replied with any favorable answer

to the private health issues or the environmental effect

issues in regards to the possibility of contamination by

sludge materials.

Teresa Hansen's daughter and her family were and are

being exposed to unknown levels of unknown disease organisms

that have run off the sludge site in rainwater.The indicator

coliform bacteria recovered on their front drive and the

front of their porch was 160,000 vs the "safe" level of 2,400

per 100ML (100 grams) for surface water contamination.  While

EPA has established a supposedly "safe" level of 1,000

coliform bacteria per gram of sludge (100,000 per 100ML),

neither the EPA nor the Statesï have established a standard

for a "safe" enforceable level of disease organisms in soil

as indicated by the coliform bacteria test.

Unlike the Zanders and Teresa Hansen's daughter and her

family, who were the victims of land application of sewage

sludge, other residents in both urban and rural communities

across the nation have suffered and are suffering adverse

health effects from exposure to pollutants from composting

and pelletizing of sludge and waste.  Composting is the waste

disposal process which allows waste to decompose or rot.

Composting is supposed to destroy the disease causing

organisms. Pelletizing is composted sludge that is made into

pellets for fertilizer.

In a letter to Kenneth Olden, the Director of the

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Dr.

Jordan A. Fink, Professor of Medicine, Chief, Allergy-

Immunology Division of the Medical College of Wisconsin and

Dr. Melvin Kramer, an environmental and infectious disease

epidemiologist wrote of their concern that "municipal and

commercial composting is now being carried out on a

nationwide basis...despite the fact that the implications of

composting for the health of surrounding community residents

have never been thoroughly studied." They wrote: It is clear

that composting causes serious health-related problems for

compost workers including an excess of nasal, ear, and skin

infections, burning eyes and skin irritation, increased

fungal colonies, and higher white blood cell counts and

hemolytic complement." According to them, "It is reasonable

to assume that surrounding communities (exposed to the

facility 24 hours a day, rather than the 8-hour work day) are

also adversely affected, and anecdotal evidence indicates

that may be the case." (p. 1)

Dr. Fink and Dr. Kramer's concern about the possibility

of adverse health effects to communities surrounding a

compost site is well-founded. Both urban and rural

communities across the country are reporting illnesses

associated by their nearness to a composting facility. To

mention just a few: Almaden, California in the West, Islip

Township and South Bronx in New York in the East, and

Franklin, Kentucky in the South.  Information on the adverse

health effects suffered by residents in these selected

communities was obtained from personal interviews,

correspondence and newspaper articles.  EPA's risk

assessments, using mathematical models, present abstract

figures (e.g., 1 in 10,000) of how many people will be

affected from exposure to sludge and sludge products.

These victims are not abstract faceless, bodyless

figures generated by a computer, they are living human beings

who have suffered from their exposure to sewage sludge. They

are somebody's wife or husband, mother or father, sister or

brother, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, grandmother or

grandfather or dear friend.  They are someone's children or

grand-children. They live in the city, the country or the


Almaden, California

The residents in Almaden, a once healthy middle-class

community in south San Jose, first noticed the terrible

odors, then residents began to develop an array of health

problems: skin rashes, respiratory and sinus problems,

asthma, joint pains, dizziness, and severe headaches.  The

culprit--a municipal open air composting plant that was

releasing mold spores into the air.  Not only were residents

of Almaden affected but schools were as well.  Children and

faculty of The Los Gatos Christian Church School, which was

approximately 1000 feet from the compost facility,

experienced a remarkable increase in the number of upper

respiratory and sinus problems.

One of these Almaden residents is Jane Lilly-Hersley.

Jane is an attractive middle-aged woman of medium build with

auburn hair and brown eyes who is very outgoing and

independent.  She is a Registered Nurse.  During the Vietnam

War, she worked in a Medivac Hospital in Japan.  She was a

Surgical Intensive Care Nurse until twelve years ago when she

accepted a high level position at Roche Research in

California conducting clinical trials in areas of infectious

disease, Immunology, AIDs and organ transplantation.

Jane is married to Dennis Hersley, a tall (6' 2") lean,

middle-aged man with a short salt and pepper beard.  He is a

chemist and computer consultant.  They have three beautiful

daughters, Cary, who is twenty-two years old, Laura who is

twenty years old and Claire who is eighteen years old.  The

oldest, slender-built golden brown-haired Cary, at 5 feet 9

inches is the tallest of the three daughters.  Cary is

interested in becoming a researcher.  Middle daughter, Laura,

is a petite five foot 4 inch; she has medium brown to auburn

hair. Laura wants to be a lawyer to fight against injustice.

The youngest, dark brown-haired and dark-brown-eyed Claire,

is also five foot four inches tall.  Claire wants to be a

researcher or a veterinarian.  Everyone in the family has

been adversely affected by the pollutant contamination in the

air from the compost plant.  After appeals to the city

provided no action, Jane and Dennis helped form a grass roots

organization called Citizens United for Responsible

Environmentalism (CURE).

Excerpts from a personal letter Jane wrote to her former

doctor describes vividly what she and her family and

neighbors were experiencing because of their proximity to the

compost facility:

    Even as I now write this story down on paper, an

aura of unreality surrounds me. Half of my mind feels

this situation is science fiction, that this weird

situation cannot really be happening. Yet I too am ill,

and have tested IgG positive to fungal pathogens with

blood levels that frighten me.

    The nature of the environment we were living in at

that time is hard to describe. One could not walk

outdoors and take a breath without gagging and retching.

Reports of these sickening odors came from as far away

as 5 miles.  My sinus problems worsened terribly. My

children were ill. My husband who has an inherited eye

problem, Cogen's dystrophy, experienced 11 corneal

erosions within a 6 week period. On nights when the

stench was particularly acute, our animals became ill.

Our two cats developed diarrhea and vomiting, fur loss,

and behavioral changes. They were reluctant to go

outdoors.  The baleful howl of the neighborhood dogs was

a nightly serenade.

    In the meantime we were hearing complaints from

other residents affected by the odors. Complaints ranged

from many minor physical irritations, headaches, sinus

infections, skin rashes, sleeping difficulties, ear and

eye irritations, to more troublesome ones, such as

bronchitis, and yet more serious ones, intractable

asthma and pneumonia.  For those residents who sought

medical treatment for their complaints, some recovered

very slowly, requiring extended treatment to achieve

relief from their symptoms. In other instances

individuals sought medical treatment but presented

baffling cases to their doctors who were unable to

effectively treat their conditions.

Although many doctors refused to get involved, they were

able to enlist the help of Dr. Vincent Marinkovich, who had

been treating a family with three cases of colonization by

aspergillus, one a ten year old child who was seriously ill.

Dr. Marinkovich, who is in his 60s, is of medium build, 5'

10" tall, with salt and pepper hair. Jane describes him as "a

man ahead of his time". She says, "he is a very gentle,

compassionate man who has a unique scientific mind. He is a

creative thinker who will consider other ideas besides what

is in the book."

Dr. Marinkovich is a medical doctor with Board

certification in pediatrics and in allergy immunology.  He is

a clinical associate professor at Stanford University Medical

School. He is an expert in his field having spent almost

twenty years treating lung disease both at Stanford and in

his private practice. He spent a year studying in England

with professor Jack Pepys at the Brompton Cardiothoracic

Institute in London.  Professor Pepys was world renowned for

his work in the area of hypersensitivity lung diseases.  Most

of these lung diseases were known to be caused by inhalation

of spores.

To gather information on the illnesses suffered by the

residents, Dr. Marinkovich and CURE conducted a survey of the

affected residents and tested their blood.  Seventy eight

adults and 117 school-aged children were surveyed and the

blood of 266 residents was tested for IgG antibodies in the

blood using the MAST test.  This test measures the normal

immune system response (IgG antibody levels) to significant

exposure to various substances, including the environmental

molds aspergillus, alternaria, cladosperium and penicillum.

The higher the antibody level, the more significant the

exposure to the individual immune system. The survey showed a

considerable increase in illness above what was expected

under normal conditions and over what was the norm before the

composting was started.  When the blood levels of the

residents living near the compost facility were compared with

those of residents living several miles away, the residents

living near the compost had high IgG and antibody levels to

Aspergillus, that appears to thrive in compost. According to

Dr. Marinkovich:

Aspergillus is a well-known human pathogen. It is the

scourge of the modern hospital in that its control is

difficult.  It kills patients with diminished immunity

and can cause serious illnesses in exposed individuals

who are otherwise normal.  Some species produce

aflatoxin, the most potent cancer-producing chemical

known, bar none.  Its optimal growth temperature is 37

degrees centigrade, which is human body temperature. It

easily colonizes damaged human tissues such as sinuses

and lungs.  Once established, it is very difficult to

eradicate. (p.  3 of statement for CURE)

    Dr. Marinkovich stated unequivocally in his

Statement on the Health Hazards from Bioaerosals

Generated By Compost/Sludge Waste Treatment Using

Biological Method that, "As one of the physicians who

personally examined and tested many of the patients who

reside in the valley, I have no doubts about the serious

health hazard of chronic fungal spore dissemination over

a residential area."

When the information from the survey and blood tests

were compiled and presented to the City and State by CURE, no

action was taken to help them. According to Jane "Neither the

City nor the State health office has assumed responsibility

for the risk residents are being exposed to. Passing the buck

from department to department is the course of action they

have elected to follow." She adds further:

I find it incredible that in the face of our complaints,

no health study or risk assessment is being undertaken

by the health agencies of our state.  Governmental

agencies are in fact continuing to open new operations

across the bay area without the proper and necessary

scientific study required to determine safety.  I fear

dire consequences may result before government

recognizes the folly of recklessly implementing

technologies that are inadequately researched...There is

a problem in Almaden.  We need someone to pay attention,

and we need help to find some answers.

When Jane Lily-Hersley conducted a nationwide inquiry to

learn if other communities had been adversely affected

healthwise from composting or other sludge treatment

processes, she found that in the township of Islip, New York,

the residents were experiencing health effects similar to

Almaden residents. A municipal composting facility was

started there in 1987.  Since its inception, residents near

the facility were complaining of the terrible odors.

Illnesses were increasing especially asthma in children.

When Jane contacted The New York State Department of

Health, who was soon to release the results of their study of

illnesses at Islip, she was provided, off the record, with

preliminary information confirming the presence of pathogenic

fungi in tremendous concentrations, when compared to

background levels, at the compost site, and as far as 1/2

mile downwind from the facility. These organisms included a

predominance of aspergillus, as well as mucor, penicillium,

alternaria, cladosporium, and thermophilic actinocmycetes.

(Jane Lily-Hersley on p. 5 of her personal letter to her


Harry Dobin, who worked 1000 feet away from a compost

site in Islip for 5 years, died from aspergillosis. In

excerpts from his poignant letter, Kenneth Dobin, tells of

his son's terrible suffering and death:

  From July 1991 until January 1992, the doctors

treated him for asthma, arthritis, Weggener's disease,

Lyme disease, kidney disorder, and bronchitis. Finally

in January 1992, when he could no longer breath, they

performed an open lung biopsy and discovered this fungus

called aspergillosis had invaded his lungs. But, after

being exposed for such a long period of time to this

compost site, which is a natural breeding ground for

this fungus, which took over my son's entire body. No

antibiotic could stop this fungus.  Every time the

doctors thought he was cured, it showed up somewhere

else in his body.

  First his lungs, then he had an aneurism, then in his

spine, then in his legs (which they wanted to amputate).

After 15 months, this fungus destroyed him completely.

It finally went to his heart valve and at that time the

doctors decided not to remove his legs or replace the

heart valve, but we should make him as comfortable as

possibly and let Harry pass on and end his suffering.

On September 23, 1992, five days after the fungus

invaded his heart valve and legs, Harry died.

  From January 1992 until his death, Harry was

hospitalized for the most horrible illness imaginable. I

will never forget his suffering.

New York City

In a South Bronx community in New York City, the faculty

and children of P.S. 48 experienced headaches, sore throats,

nausea, sinus congestion, runny eyes, nosebleeds, tight

chests and asthma.  More than a quarter of the 1100 students

had asthma and were frequently hospitalized. Forty-seven

percent of one first grade class had asthma and thirty-three

percent had been hospitalized. The school is located five

blocks from a pelletization plant which processes New York

City sludge into Class A sludge fertilizer. A terrible stench

emanated from the plant causing nausea and upset stomachs.

Within fifteen yards of the school, uncovered trucks

transported foul-smelling sludge (containing live disease

causing organisms, toxic organic chemicals and toxic heavy

metals) from the treatment plants to the pelletization plant


The plant is owned by the New York Organic Fertilizer

Company (NYOFCO), which is a subsidiary of Whellabrator,

which in turn, is a subsidiary of Solid Waste Management of

Illinois, the biggest waste conglomerate in the nation.

I am personally acquainted with one of the teachers at

PS 48.  Unfortunately, which says something for free speech

in the United States today, I can not reveal her identity

because she fears reprisal. She has already been demoted once

because of her activities to stop the pollution that has made

so many of them ill.  Although I can't mention her real name,

I can tell you that Ms. X is one of the most dedicated and

caring teachers, who wants to make a positive difference in

the lives of her students, that I have ever met.  The first

time I met her I was touched by her heart-wrenching account

of the situation at PS 48 where so many children, day after

day, were suffering from a range of symptoms--burning eyes,

coughing, nausea, stomach cramps, nosebleeds, sore throats,

and asthma. She said she had to do something.  She couldn't

stand by and ignore the silent unspoken pleas in their sad

little eyes asking for someone to do something to make it


Ms. X has worked tirelessly in the children's cause.

Working with Jane Lilly-Hersley of Almaden, she organized a

branch of CURE.  When she wrote as an individual to various

regulatory agencies (City and State) protesting the situation

at PS 48, her letters were ignored.  It wasn't until she sent

letters with the CURE letterhead that her letters were even

answered. All of her activities and those of several other

teachers, and some parents who were fighting the air

pollution proved to be of no avail; no one in any position of

authority in the City or State would help them.  It wasn't

until United States Representative Jose Serrano of New York

became involved in their struggle that anything was done to

alleviate the distressing situation at PS 48.  When

Representative Serrano held a hearing at the school and

learned the extent of the adverse health effects the students

were experiencing there, he was appalled. In a personal

interview, Rep. Serrano told Jack Newfield of the New York

Post that he was taking immediate action to remedy the

appalling situation.  According to Newfield, Serrano was

asking the federal EPA to test the air around PS 48.  He also

wanted a court injunction to stop the pollution.  Several

articles were written by the New York Post which aptly

portrayed the situation at PS 48 in Hunts Point.  In a follow

up to his February 13th article, Jack Newfield on February

16th wrote a hardhitting article entitled "Something Stinks

in Hunts Pt." in which he told about two scandals in the

South Bronx. The first scandal was the accelerated asthma

rate (32%) among the students of PS 48 which was within a

mile of more than 40 sludge, sewage and garbage disposal

facilities. The second scandal was the inactivity of the city

and state environmental and health agencies who appeared

unwilling to test the air quality around the school to

discover what it contained that was causing the asthma

epidemic.  Newfield ends his article with the admonition to

the federal EPA, the mayor and the governor to step in, take

decisive action and end the buck-passing that had been going

on, before a child dies from asthma.

Someone finally paid attention. In a conversation with

Ms. X, she told me that the health of the children and

faculty had improved since NYOFCO was forced to install an

air control device totaling 1.6 million dollars.  The plant

also replaced the foul-smelling air with the smell of

cinnamon, lilac or almond. The sludge hauling trucks are also

no longer permitted to drive on the streets near the school.

Unfortunately, now the residents of Hunts Point have to fight

a new threat.  A Marine Transfer Station is to be built there

to receive the sludge coming in by barges.

Franklin, Kentucky

In Franklin, Kentucky, 131 neighbors, who lived around

the Triple M. Landfarm, which in July 1997 began composting

385 tons of sludge from Nashville, Tennessee and six other

cities, have become ill. Symptoms of the residents include

vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, lack of appetite, fatigue,

headaches, respiratory problems, dizzy spells, sinus

problems, and muscle aches. Several residents have infected

fly bites from the flies that have been attracted to the

compost pile. The leader of the group of neighbors, who have

been trying to stop the composting, is Bonnie Swayze. Bonnie

and her family live on the farm that has been in their family

since 1891.  She is an attractive  middle-aged medium build

woman with blond hair and blue eyes. She is married to 5'

11", 200 lb. Bruce Swayze who has brown eyes and grey hair.

They have two sons, Bo and Billy. Both boys are tall and

slim. Bo, who is thirteen, and Billy, who is ten, both have

brown hair and hazel eyes. These usually healthy, energetic

boys have been suffering from fatigue and repeated bouts of

diarrhea. Billy also developed a staph infection due to fly


Bonnie and Bruce are both suffering from fatigue.  Bruce

also has joint and muscle pains.  Like her sons, Bonnie has

bouts of diarrhea.  Her other symptoms include sore throat,

blisters on the tongue and fly bites.

Like those in other parts of the country, who have tried

to stop the composting, pelletizing and land application of

sewage sludge that have made people ill, particularly

children, Bonnie and her neighbors met with the same

indifferent treatment by regulatory agencies.  The State

epidemiologist, who was sent to investigate the problem and

who said it would take months to do the study, has never

returned. The State Health Director, who attended one of

their meetings, and listened to their complaints about the

adverse health problems they were experiencing, told them

that he was directed by the Governor to close down the

compost site but he couldn't do it without documented proof

of their health problems.  Two doctors at the meeting said

they could verify the health problems Bonnie and her family

and neighbors were experiencing. He left and the compost

facility is still in operation.

Although sludge brought in from out of state was

stopped, in state sludge is still being transported to the

compost facility and the neighbors are still getting sick.

To add insult to injury, Bonnie and her neighbors, who have

suffered ill effects from the composting, are being sued by

the sludge hauler for interfering with his business.

What has happened in Almaden, Islip, the South Bronx,

Franklin, and other communities over the United States was no

surprise to Dr. Melvin Kramer who unequivocally pointed out

in an executive summary of October 1, 1992, the harm to

communities from composting and pelletization of sludge.  He


Therefore, this methodology of de-watering and

composting sludge and pelletization will pose a

significant health hazard to the population in general,

but especially to the elderly, children, and the infirm,

both in terms of nuisances as exemplified by excessive

putrid odors and minor allergic reactions in the general

healthy population (such as runny noses, itchy and runny

eyes, sore throats and coughs) to life threatening

diseases (such as invasive Aspergillosis, especially in

immunocompromised persons who have such disease entities

as cancer or leukemia, who have had bone marrow or organ

transplants, or who are positive for the human

immunodeficiency virus or who have clinical AIDS.

Furthermore, of the 10%-15% of the general population

who are asthmatic, Aspergillus will exacerbate and cause

asthmatic attacks and, in a small minority, will cause a

condition which is most severe called Allergic

Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis, {ABPA}.

What happened to the Zanders, the residents of Almaden,

Islip, South Bronx, and Franklin could happen to you or your

family. We are all potential victims of sewage sludge.  It

matters not where we live.  Whether we reside in the country,

a large city, the suburbs or a small town, we are not

protected from exposure to it.  According to a 1995 paper

entitled "The Biosolids (Sludge) Treatment, Beneficial Use,

and Disposal Situation in the USA" by Robert K. Bastian of

the Office of Wastewater Management of the EPA, there will be

more exposure to sludge in the future. He says:

A wide range of land application practices for

beneficially recycling biosolids {sewage sludge} have

been investigated and employed to date, including

application to many urban parks and golf courses,

cropland, rangeland, forests, and a variety of disturbed

and marginally productive areas (e.g., stripmined areas,

construction sites, etc.).  Land application projects

are underway involving biosolids from many large

metropolitan areas (including Washington, D.C., New York

City, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Chicago, Milwaukee,

Minneapolis, St.  Paul, Denver, Albuquerque, Seattle,

Portland, and Los Angeles) as well as thousands of

smaller cities and towns across the U.S., especially in

the Midwest.  (p. 3)

If you live in the country, your next-door farm neighbor

could be putting sludge on his field which could run-off and

contaminate your wellwater, air and crops as happened with

the Zanders. Like Teresa Hansen's daughter you might

unknowingly buy a house next to a sludge site where your

property could become contaminated and your children

endangered. You could even buy a sludge site for your next

home without knowing it.

The next pelletizing or composting facility could be put

in your neighborhood (rural or urban).  According to Bastian:

The most recent Biocycle survey found a total of 330

biosolids {sludge} composting projects in operation or

development--228 full-scale operating facilities, 9

under construction, and 89 either pilot projects or

projects still in permitting design and planning stages.

There are also at least 16 full-scale operating thermal

drying/pelletizing facilities and another 5 in startup,

under construction or in the permitting, design and

planning stages. In addition, there are a growing number

(currently 35-50 in operation or under development) of

alkaline stabilization facilities being established in

various parts of the U.S. that produce a product

acceptable [to EPA] for use as an agricultural lime

substitute, organic fertilizer, or as an artificial soil

for daily or final landfill cover, dike construction,

etc.  (p. 4)

If you or your family become victims, you will learn, as

have countless other victims, that your local, state and

federal regulatory agencies will do nothing to help you.  We

are all potential victims and will continue to be because the

EPA, who is supposed to protect our health and the

environment, is actively promoting a beneficial sludge use

policy propelled by a highly visible public relations

campaign which will ensure that there are more and more

victims. The disturbing fact is that the wastewater division

of the EPA in its promotion of sewage sludge as a fertilizer

has entered into an alliance with the very industry waste

management, that it is supposed to regulate.

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