KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
1999 STATEMENT BY JAMES BYNUM
Between 1989 and 1999 Kansas City, Missouri assured the neighbors and farmers of its
sludge disposal site that it was a very safe place. In 1999, Kansas City went to court to shut
down public access to farms near its 1,200 acre sludge disposal site. City attorneys told the
court that federal and state law required the site be restricted to public access. The court
agreed that a gate could be placed a public street some 500 feet from the city's fenced
As the following statement by James Bynum shows, this was a very dangerous place. The
statement only addresses the sludge situation at the site.
For almost 30 years, I have watched, as the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA)
Wastewater section of the Office of Water Division altered its character from a law enforcement
agency and protector of the environment, as envisioned by Congress, to become one of the
most powerful and corrupt entities in government. This small group of people within the EPA has
promoted a policy of land application (disposal) of sewage sludge that has polluted our air, food,
soil, and water.
The Water Division of EPA was created and entrusted with protecting our national water supply
and cleaning up our sewage (wastewater). One of the largest construction projects in history
was initiated by the EPA for the construction of municipal primary and secondary sewage
treatment plants to prevent most of the harmful toxic chemicals and disease- causing organisms
from entering our water supply.
I was shocked to discover the Wastewater Division betrayed that trust, by not only failing to
protect our national water supply, but by taking the most hazardous toxic and disease
contaminated sludge extracted from the sewage wastewater and promoting its use as an
unregulated and uncontrolled fertilizer on home lawns, gardens, school grounds and our food
crop production land.
This small section of about 20 people within the EPA have violated its Trust, and the law, by
creating a sludge use policy regulation based solely on unrelated exclusions and exemptions in
the environmental laws, which do not apply to sludge, and a statutory exemption for
contaminated stormwater run-off from agricultural land.
I first became involved in the 1970s, in Kansas City, Missouri's waste disposal planning.
Because of my public service activities as the first Vietnam veteran to serve as an American
Legion Post Commander in Kansas City, Missouri, I was ask to serve on Kansas City's solid
waste management committee to evaluate solid waste disposal methods.
In modern public relations terminology I was a gatekeeper, a public figure who had little
knowledge about solid waste at the time, but who would be believed when I passed on the
government's official line of so-called scientific facts concerning solid waste disposal. The
official line is much different from the truth. The truth is that solid waste is a simple term for all
the toxic chemical and disease contaminated waste generated by homes, hospitals,
newspapers, industry and the sludge from air, water and waste treatment plants, which can do
irreparable damage to human health and the environment if it is mismanaged. Sewage sludge
at that time was considered to be a solid waste and the environmental laws still classify sludge
as a solid waste which must be safely managed in a secure landfill.
Twenty years after I was first introduced to the dangers of solid waste on the Kansas City Solid
Waste Evaluation Committee, the City began limited sludge disposal operations next to our
family farm. In 1972, the City had taken part of our family farm for the disposal site. As it was
funded by the EPA and the State, I assumed all the necessary precautions would be taken to
assure the protection of any person coming in contact with the sludge as well as protection of
the environment. I also assumed that it would be well managed to prevent the toxic chemicals
and disease organisms from entering the groundwater, surface water or causing other harmful
effects. These assumptions were based on my naive belief at that time that the wastewater
section of the water division of the EPA and Missouri's Department of Natural Resource (DNR)
had as its main concern enforcing the environmental laws to protect human health and the
I became concerned when our tenant farmer, who also farmed part of the City's sludge site, was
not warned of any danger associated with exposure to the toxic chemicals and disease
organisms in sludge which would contaminate the air, crops, soil and water at the City's farm
disposal site. I also became alarmed when a cluster of cancer cases developed around the
disposal site. I discovered that none of the four farmers farming the sludge amended ground
were ever warned they could take the dust borne toxic chemicals and disease organisms home
on their clothes, which could affect the health of their families.
Was it just a co-incidence that one farmer developed cancer of the throat, the wives of two
of the farmers died of cancer, and the fourth farmer died of questionable causes? Two other
women living on the perimeter of the disposal site also died of questionable causes. One died of
pulmonary fribrosis -- she smothered to death from like of oxygen.. It was the state's contention
that a cancer cluster was not a scientific concern unless all individual had the same type of
cancer. Since the Health Department had to bow to the DNR, it was not about to consider that
EPA had just published the 1989 proposed sludge rule in which it listed 21 cancer causing
agents in sludge, which of course caused 21 different types of cancer. Five of the cancer
causing agents were carcinoginic when inhaled on dust.
When the State did well water testing around the disposal site, it said there were no problems
with the ground water these people had been drinking. However, the state only tested for a few
pollutants. City water lines were installed soon after at the expense of the residents near the
My concern with the safety of our tenant led me to question how sludge was managed in land
application farming versus in a disposal site. I knew, based on my work on the waste disposal
committee, that there was potential for harm to human health and the environment if the sludge
was not monitored and highly regulated, which included warning the public (farmers) of the
danger from contact with it. In my investigation of the land application of sludge, I was shocked
to learn that the safeguards under the Solid Waste Act that should have protected human
health and the environment were not in place. Sludge, with its disease-causing organisms, toxic
organic chemicals, heavy metals and even radioactive materials, was being applied to food crop
production land with little or no monitoring, oversight or regulation.
In 1992, I was invited to present a paper at the New Mexico Governor's Conference on the
Environment. The paper was on the 1989 proposed sludge disposal regulation and how it failed
to address a large number of pollutants in sludge.
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. The
public relations firmed funded by EPA, 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 that:
"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."
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.
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.
According to Bob Bastian, writing in his 1995 paper, The Biosolids (sludge) Treatment,
Beneficial Use, and Disposal Situations in the U.S., EPA is working with the states "to
encourage their adoption of biosolids regulatory programs that can be approved to carry out
delegated programs and avoid the need for separate U.S. EPA permits, compliance
monitoring and enforcement activities." He says:
Until a state applies for and is approved to carry out a
delegated program, all TWTDS in the state will be
dealing directly with their U.S. EPA Regional Office
regarding federal permits, compliance monitoring and
enforcement issues associated with implementation of the
Part 503 requirements. (p.7) According to Bastian, as of
December 23, 1997, only Utah had completed the
In this same paper, Bastian lists several problems with land application that are reasons why
states are not wanting to accept delegation:
Areas such as the long-term fate of some land applied
pollutants in biosolids [sludge] relative to plant
uptake rates, surface runoff and groundwater movement,
and the potential impacts (both positive and negative)
on wildlife and unmanaged ecosystems are ripe for
further research due to the limited amount of field data
currently available. Future attempts to make the
pathogen control portion of the rule more "risk-based"
will also require additional research efforts. (p.10)
Alan Hais, EPA's Multimedia Risk Assessment Branch Chief, is concerned with the enforcement
issue. In SLUDGE, August 1, 1995, he says, "The Water Environment Federation (WEF) of
Alexandria, Va. and EPA forged a partnership to implement Part 503, but the association
probably will not be able to assist in the agency's enforcement efforts."
The partnership he was referring to was the EPA/WEF stakeholders group. Basically, it
included WEF and AMSA members as well as the Wastewater Division of the EPA. In his 1995
paper, Bob Bastian also refers to stakeholders as, neighbors, farmers, food processors, and
As a neighbor, we and our tenant farmer are stakeholders. We have a stake in protecting the
soil and the crops grown there, which in turn protects the value of the property and the
consumers of the crops. The EPA/WEF stakeholder group on the other hand, is only interested
in sludge disposal at the cheapest cost, with the least amount of control.
Environmental groups have also been approached to become stakeholders. It can be
understood why an environmental group would not want toxic sludge in the ocean -- it was killing
ocean life. What can not be understood is why an environmental group would rather see toxic
sludge on their food crops or on their lawns and parks, rather than safely disposed of in a
sanitary landfill. This stakeholders group, for the most part, is a very biased group with a vested
interest in promoting the beneficial sewage sludge use and covering up any damages caused
by sewage sludge as evidenced from their debunking actions.
In reading the correspondence between EPA and the WEF, it is sometimes difficult to determine
exactly who is in charge. In one letter, Robert Perciasepe, Assistant Administrator of EPA's
Office of Water, had expressed to stakeholders of the WEF's executive committee the desire for
WEF assistance in getting States to accept responsibility for Part 503. EPA had already set up
an inter-agency loan of Dr. Al Rubin to WEF, to assist WEF and States to understand technical
aspects of Part 503. Rubin's role at WEF was to get States to accept the technical
requirements of Part 503.
In a March 13, 1995 letter to Perciasepe, WEF President Michael R. Pollen acknowledged
Perciasepe's request for assistance in getting the states to accept responsibility for sludge
enforcement. Pollen boasted that:
The WEF's highly successful partnership with EPA to
develop and implement a national campaign for gaining
public acceptance of biosolids recycling demonstrates
the viability of such a partnership effort. The recent
positive modification of the ABC TV PRIMETIME LIVE show
because of our proactive cooperative efforts was most
The story that was modified concerned Mount San Diego, which is a mountain of San Diego,
California sludge dumped on an Indian reservation. The sludge disposal contractor was
supposed to compost the sludge and sell or give it away as a fertilizer. However, that did not
happen and the pollutants from the mountain of sludge have contaminated the reservation
and the groundwater. Now no one wants to accept responsibility for the clean-up because it is
on an Indian Reservation.
In spite of EPA initiating the partnership, in a May 15, 1995 letter, Perciasepe, thanked Pollen
for suggesting the EPA/WEF partnership. He wrote, "we need to explore ideas...to develop an
innovative relationship... to streamline authorization process." An EPA team, for the partnership
WEF had in mind, had been assembled, and John Walker had been appointed the biosolids
Furthermore, Pollen acknowledged that it was EPA's Walker and Dr. Albert Grey, Deputy
Executive Director of WEF, "who was instrumental in creating this and other proposals
for joint WEF/EPA cooperation."
In 1995, 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
convince 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
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
Sam Hadeed, director of technical services and legislation for the Association of Metropolitan
Sewage Agencies (AMSA) noted in the August 1, 1995 issue of 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
If there are no rules or accurate records it is self-evident that there will not be any violations.
Most states did not 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. As most states have not
assumed delegation, the monitoring and enforcement requirement of Part 503 sludge
rule are still the responsibility of about 10 Regional Sludge Coordinators at the EPA.
In a personal conversation with Ken Arnold of Missouri's Department of Natural Resources
(DNR), he told me 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.
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 inspecting the sludge disposal sites
or enforcing the State rules concerning the sludge sites.
Why was EPA paying the State Sludge Coordinators' salary and what was EPA paying them to
do? 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." In a letter dated December
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.
John Dunn, EPA's Region VII sludge coordinator, is responsible for monitoring and enforcement
in four states. An impossible job for one person, 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 he has Missouri too, who has refused to accept delegation.
At the same sludge coordinators' meeting, Washington State revealed that it also like Missouri
had cut back on its solid waste and biosolids (sludge) monitoring and enforcement
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
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
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.
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
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 no one in the state
DNR even acknowledged it.
The ground water monitoring system was installed when the sludge site was created under the
solid waste rules in Part 257. The State has retained the monitoring wells under the 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 a Trustee for the Alice Minter Trust, I discovered that no inspections had been done for the
Kansas City sludge application site. I also discovered the NPDES threshold concentrations
have been exceeded at the Kansas City sludge disposal site a number of times. In December of
1997, it was revealed by state records, there was ground water contamination both on and off
Kansas City's sludge application site.
An examination of the state records revealed that by the second quarter of 1997, Kansas City
was requesting a permit modification because it could not meet the permit limits for nitrogen and
aluminum in the ground water monitoring test wells. All fourteen test wells were above the limits
for nitrogen and many of the test wells were above the permit limits for aluminum. One well was
above the NPDES limit for arsenic.
One of the reasons for the permit modification, according to Kansas City, was that the soil was
naturally high in aluminum. Actually the reason for the high aluminum content in the soil,
according to a 1987 EPA sludge analysis, was that the Kansas City sludge was being disposed
of with 7,100 mg/kg (ppm) of aluminum in it. Aluminum is not regulated under Part 503.
In the past aluminum has been thought to be relatively safe in the environment even though
aluminum dust is known to produce a lung disease in workers. Aluminum is now known to
cause a type of dementia in people undergoing kidney dialysis when regular tap water is used in
the dialysis machine.
According to authors of Toxics A to Z, in recent years, two major discoveries have caused a
reevaluation of aluminum's safety. High concentrations of aluminum have been found in
patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders. It was also found that,
"...acid rain washes aluminum out of the soil and into freshwater, killing fish and perhaps raising
the concentration in drinking water to levels that in combination with aluminum from other
sources, could become a health hazard." The author noted that, "aluminum does not dissolve
readily in water that is neutral in acidity, but as the water gets either increasingly
acidic or alkaline, it dissolves more readily and therefore becomes more mobile in the
environment." (p. 210)
EPA's 1987 sludge analysis also revealed another major concern. Kansas City has been
disposing of the chemical Thallium at up to 170.0 mg/kg. In the Cornell report, The Case for
Caution, it was reported that some European countries, restrict Thallium to 1.0 mg/kg in the soil.
According to Webster's New World Dictionary, Thallium is a "rare, poisonous, bluish-grey, soft,
metallic chemical element, used in making photoelectric cells, rat poison, etc." It is classified
under the Clean Water Act as a hazardous substance. Yet, we can find no EPA funded studies
which mention Thallium in sludge. In fact, according to John Dunn, there is no reliable method to
test for Thallium in sewage sludge.
According to the 1995 annual report for the site, some permit violations were to be expected.
Some sludge was disposed of with arsenic levels of 105.263 mg/kg which is considerable higher
than the 75 mg/kg ceiling levels allowed in the beneficial use section of Part 503. The same was
true for selenium which was disposed of at 157.895 mg/kg and 105.263 mg/kg versus a ceiling
level of 100 mg/kg. Furthermore, the records show some acreage received 20.056 pounds of
arsenic and 34.711 pounds of selenium per acre.
The disposal level of 105.263 mg/kg for arsenic was extremely high when compared to the 30
mg/kg allowed within 30 meters (approximately 75 feet) of a sludge only surface disposal site
boundary under Part 503 or even the 62 mg/kg allowed within 150 meters (approximately
375-450 feet) of the disposal site boundary. Yet, after 10 years of beneficial sludge disposal at
this site, Kansas City writes, "This limit for arsenic [in ground water] appears to be very low and
would be difficult or impossible to meet."
Under the Part 503 monitoring requirements, Kansas City is supposed to track all of the nine
metals disposed of at the sludge disposal site. Yet, according to the Missouri DNR
Form SD, for Cumulative Metals Loadings For Land Application of Biosolids, sludges that do not
exceed the low metals concentration limits for EQ or PC aren't recorded. In effect, the EPA's
crap game is getting more serious for the consumer and general public.
One example of this discrepancy is the land loading records for Site No. LFF1P1, which
indicated that no arsenic, selenium, mercury or molybdenum had been applied to the site
prior to 1995---in spite of the 177 pounds of lead per acre which had been applied to the site.
The fact is the sludge was just too contaminated to keep records on. In 1995, disposal rates
were, Arsenic--20.056 lbs. per acre, selenium--34.711 lbs. per acre, and lead was 51 lbs. per
By 1996, the record for this site showed that all but a few pounds of the three toxic metals had
disappeared from the records. The records indicated the toxic heavy metals had never been
applied to that site.
Kansas City claimed it could not be responsible for the arsenic ground water contamination.
However, the records show that Kansas City's Blue River wastewater treatment plant sludge was
piped to the Birmingham site for disposal in 1994, with arsenic levels as high as 589 mg/kg vs
the 75 mg/kg allowed for beneficial use. Where did this sludge go?
Arsenic is of particular concern, Part 117.3 and other federal regulations show a reportable
quantity of one (1) pound of arsenic, (Part 117.1) that may be harmful to public health and the
environment, and the discharge of which is a violation of section 311(b)(3) and requires notice
as set forth in Part 117.21 and other federal regulations. Yet, it was being dumped at 20
pounds per acre on food crop production land.
Two years later, in December 1997, there were no records in the State files to indicate Kansas
City had even been questioned about the Part 503 violations by either the State or EPA. In
September 1997, it was reported that the monitoring well, which exceeded NPDES limits for
arsenic, had done so a number of times in the past. In spite of the high levels of arsenic
disposed of on the site, Kansas City wrote, "It is our feeling that the Birmingham land application
program did not cause this violation."
The most interesting part of the Kansas City's 1995 sludge report was a comment by Kansas
City explaining, "We will be working with our laboratory in the future to obtain lower detection
limits for arsenic and selenium." Apparently Kansas City's laboratory did comply with the
wastewater divisions request and it obtained much lower detection limits in 1996. For the 12
months of 1996, there was a dramatic drop from the 105.263 mg/kg arsenic levels in 1995.
According to the reports, during 1996, the arsenic levels only ranged from 1.23 mg/kg to a
maximum of 5.261 mg/kg with an average of 3.02 mg/kg. However, molybdenum levels in the
sludge ranged from a low of 51.02 mg/kg to a high of 263.16 mg/kg with an average of 185.64
mg/kg. It would appear that someone forgot to tell Kansas City's laboratory that the regulated
ceiling level of molybdenum for disposal was only 75 mg/kg.
One of EPA's many claims for the safety of sludge used as a fertilizer is that the regulated
metals do not move through the soil. The Kansas City test well reports for 1996 and 1997
appear to bear this theory out, until we look at other metals which EPA does not regulate. As
noted, arsenic and aluminum were above the permitted level in a number of the test wells. But
other chemicals of concern, iron, magnesium, Manganese, silver and sodium appear to move
through the soil very quickly. The levels varied from very low to very high levels in the 14 wells.
Total nitrogen (TKN) was above the permit limits in all 14 monitoring wells.In the June 1997
report one well had a nitrogen level of 63.76 mg/l vs the regulated level of 10 mg/l.
In 1997, when the farm manager of the Alice Minter Trust sent four soil samples (from the four
quarters of the 80 acres adjacent to the sludge site) to the University of Missouri's Extension
Service Soil Testing Laboratory in Portageville, for a test report on the nutrients and metals
which effect crop growth, he asked for, and expected to receive, a full report on all the nutrients,
especially nitrogen. Without the full test, he would have no idea of the required fertilizer
composition needed. However, he did not receive a report on nitrogen, which was contaminating
the ground water monitoring wells on the property, or sulfur, zinc, manganese, iron, or copper.
He only received a partial report on phosphorus, potassium, calcium and manganese.
According to the University's soil test reports on calcium, the calcium varied by 3000 lb per acre
between the four samples. The lowest exposure to runoff from the sludge site was recorded as
3,428 lbs. per acre, while the section with highest exposure to run-off from the sludge site was
recorded at 6,703 lbs. per acre. The high levels of calcium in surface water run-off could be
expected since, according to EPA documents, Kansas City has been disposing of sludge
with calcium levels at 28,000 mg/kg since 1988. When I talked to the University's laboratory
manager several days later, he tried to convince me the additional tests were not needed.
However, he assured me that if we wanted the additional testing, the soil samples were still
available and the tests would be done that day. When I requested the additional tests, the
samples could not be found. It would appear that the University of Missouri's Laboratory
recognized a potential sludge problem with some of the nutrients and heavy metals and did not
want to get involved.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of the Kansas City 1997 second quarter report was that permit
numbers for fecal coliform were exceeded in 4 of the 14 test wells. According to a conversation
with John Bozarth, Kansas City's sludge coordinator, one of the test wells, which exceeded the
fecal coliform numbers was only a few feet away from the Alice Minter Trust property line.
Kansas City claimed the violations were caused by improper sampling, which may have
contaminated the original samples.
By the third quarter of 1997, there was no question about the ground water contamination; the
groundwater contamination had spread and permit limits for fecal coliform were exceeded in six
of the fourteen test wells. Kansas City did not even bother to re-sample the test wells for this
As adjoining landowners, 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 the Missouri River ran along side the site
and of the storm water runoff onto the adjacent Minter property. The Alice Minter Trust has
been complaining about the run-off since 1989.
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 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 20 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?
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 contamination. It was agreed that our 50 acre
site could be used as a control site, since neither sludge or manure had ever been applied to it,
nor was it near any site where sludge had been applied. A comparison of test results of the 80
acres adjacent to the sludge site with the 50 acres should show whether there was surface
stormwater contamination from the sludge site. 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 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 6th meeting?
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. Four different soil test samples were taken
on Trust property that had been subject to surface water run-off. All four samples were tested
for fecal coliform bacteria. The test results revealed coliform bacteria levels of 3000, 9000 and
one with 650,000 per 100ML. The 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 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.
Our own personal experience with the various government entities (City, State, and EPA), who
are supposed to be monitoring and overseeing the safe disposal of sludge, confirmed what
Persiacepe, Assistant Administrator for the EPA's Office of Water, wrote in two confidential
January 1998 draft statements (original & final) received from Washington that there hasn't
been any monitoring or compliance enforcement. In these two drafts, Persiacepe revealed that
EPA has never adequately monitored or enforced the Part 503 regulation. Perciasepe admits in
a statement to Steven Harman, Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance
Assurance, that "Our limited biosolids staffing has crippled our ability to oversee the quality of
biosolids being land applied and to assure that the regulations governing land application are
In the draft statement, Perciasepe requested support from Harman in "implementing a strategy
for biosolids compliance and enforcement; and providing training for persons involved with
biosolids inspections; enforcement; compliance assistance; and technical assistance."
These statements acknowledged what many people in and out of government already knew, the
EPA has not overseen the safety of sludge disposal. Since States with the exception of Utah
have not accepted delegation of Part 503, the oversight and compliance for land application of
sewage sludge is an EPA problem.
In Perciasepe's Statement to Harman, he requested financial assistance in excess of
$3,780,000 above his budget for two years. The two year request for funding included:
1) Research and Technical Support ($1.6 Million),
2) Stakeholders Partnership with AMSA and WEF ($500 Thousand),
3) Biosolids Quality Survey ($325 thousand),
4) Biosolids Data Management System ($350 thousand),
5) Code of Good Practice and Third Party Verification ($200 thousand),
6) Booklet Explaining Quality Control ($80 thousand),
7) Expand Training ($130 thousand),
8) Enhance Oversight and Compliance ($150 thousand) and
9) Technical Support for Pathogens & Vector Attraction Equivalency Committee ($50 thousand)
and the Incidence Response Team ($120 thousand).
According to the budget outlay request there still would not be adequate compliance and
oversight. Compliance and oversight was only going to cost $100 thousand the first year
and $50 thousand the second year. The Incidence and Response Team was cheap at $60
thousand a year. This budget request was just another way to fund the public relations program.
A closer examination of Perciasepe's draft statements reveals the real reason for the additional
outlay of money is to counteract the growing opposition of the public to biosolids use.
Because the public perceives that risks are high, we
need to reinvest in biosolids to address the public's
concerns. Specifically, the public believes that
biosolids qualities are poor, that the science behind
the rule is suspect, that emerging potential problems
with the use of biosolids are equivalent to a new "Love
canal," and finally that EPA does not know what is going on.
He added further that, "the public's poor perception of environmentally sound land use practices
is severely impacting EPA's ability to successfully implement the beneficial use policy. The poor
public perception may force municipalities to spend unnecessary expenses to manage
Perciasepe uses the same tired old line used by most regulatory agencies who fail to fulfill their
assigned functions-- we don't have enough money, or enough people, or enough power to do
the job. So, they receive more taxpayer dollars to hire more people and get more power to cover
up their misdeeds. It is evident from Perciasepe's Statement, the real purpose of the request for
over 3 million dollars annually was to cover up the brewing scandal CNN exposed. He has a
right to be concerned with public perception. As was pointed out by Powell Tate, this is a major
problem for the EPA/WEF partnership.
However, the real problem is not public perception, it is the damage done to the public's health
and the environment