TWO LETTERS ASKING QUESTIONS ALAN RUBIN (THE SHEIK OF SLUDGE) WILL NOT ANSWER. The name came from a Milwaukee paper.
Much of the original science showing sludge could very dangerous was done at Cornell University in the early 1980s. Rubin received his advanced degree from Cornell so he should have known about the science. However, he has chosen to promote sludge dumping as a fertilizer knowing that pathogens can not be detected after the stress of certain treatment processes.
Help For Sewage Victims sponsored a paper, "SLUDGE DISPOSAL: Sanitary Landfill--Open Dump--Superfund Site" at the September 1992 New Mexico Governor's Conference on the Environment. Both the paper and the part 503 were published in February 1993. Now, the public and sludge victims would like answers to the following questions:
1. Have you stated under oath, "I consider it  to be my major professional achievement?"
2. Did you testify under oath that your professional reputation, to a large extent, is based on your association with biosolids - 503 and its technical basis and that you feel your reputation would be somewhat disparaged if the basis of the rule and the scientific findings were shown to be in error?
3. Isn't it true that in § 503.4 you state, "Disposal of sewage sludge in a municipal solid waste landfill unit, as defined in 40 CFR 258.2, that complies with the requirements in 40 CFR part 258 constitutes compliance with section 405(d) of the CWA?"
4. Isn't it true that § 258.1(a) was to establish minimum national criteria under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA or the Act), as amended, for all municipal solid waste landfill (MSWLF) units and under the Clean Water Act, as amended, for municipal solid waste landfills that are used to dispose of sewage sludge?
Wasn't these minimum national criteria created to ensure the protection of human health and the environment?
5. From a legal and scientific perspective, isn't it true that the infectious characteristics of sludge make it a hazardous waste under the RCRA?
6. Isn't it a scientific fact that you say in 503.9(t) "Pollutant is an organic substance, an inorganic substance, a combination of organic and inorganic substances, or a pathogenic organism that, after discharge and upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation, or assimilation into an organism either directly from the environment or indirectly by ingestion through the food chain, could, on the basis of information available to the Administrator of EPA, cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions (including malfunction in reproduction), or physical deformations in either organisms or offspring of the organisms"?
7. What was the scientific basis for your statement, "The term "toxic pollutant" is not used in the final part 503 regulation because this generally is limited to the list of priority toxic pollutants developed by EPA?
Has the Agency concluded that Congress intended that EPA develop the part 503 pollutant limits for a broader range of substances that might interfere with the use and disposal of sewage sludge, not just the 126 priority pollutants"? (FR. 58, 32, p. 9327)
8. What was the scientific basis for you to remove the list of 25 primary pathogens in sewage sludge from the final 503? Federal Register FR), 54, P.5829
9. What was the scientific basis for adding "food crops" to the 30 day "feed crop" restriction clause of the final 503?
10. Are you aware that government figures show food contamination poisoning jumped from 6.5 million incidents to 81 million incidents between 1990 and 1997 with the accompanying death rate of between 5000 and 10,000 annually?
11. What was the scientific basis for you to remove the list of twenty-one carcinogens (cancer causing agents) in sludge from the final 503? (FR 54,p. 5777).
12. What was the scientific basis for removing the statement from the final 503 that five of those twenty-one carcinogens in sludge are carcinogenic when inhaled -- Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium IV and Nickel? (FR 54, p. 5777).
13. Isn't it true that a riskassessment was not done for those same toxic metals in sludge because EPA stated it did not consider them to be carcinogens?
14. Isn't it true that the federal court did not order EPA to remove chromium from the land application section of 503 as stated in an EPA publication?
15. Isn't it true that EPA told the federal court that it did not have any creditable studies on uptake of chromium in crops?
16. What is the technical or scientific basis for assuming that applying 3,000+ ppm of chromium on lawns, gardens and food crops is safer than placing less than 600 ppm of chromium on a 503 surface disposal site?
17. Isn't it true that you stated that "The (proposed rule) assessment does not quantify ecological effects or farm economic losses caused by plant or animal toxicity, even though some numerical limits in today's proposal are based on animal and plant toxicity values?
Did you also state that "Methodologies and data are not yet available to accurately estimate the ecological impacts from the use and disposal of Sludge"? (FR 54, p. 5780).
18. Are you aware of the study, "Neurotoxicity from Municipal Sewage Sludge", Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 14, 160; Singer, R. (1998). Which was Presented at the 18th Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Neuropsychology, Washington, D.C., November 6, 1998?
19. Are you aware of Dr. David Lewis' study on "Interactions of pathogens and irritant chemicals in land-applied sewage sludges (biosolids)" in which he found "A prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus infections of the skin and respiratory tract (Approximately 1 in 4 of 54 individuals were infected, including 2 mortalities (septicaemia, pneumonia))?" ( BMC Public Health 2002 2:11)
20. Are you aware that studies Canada and Australia as well as U.S. Recognize that sewage sludge (including compost & heat dried) causes Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis -- better known in America as (COPD) Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?
21. Are you aware that the pollutants in sewage sludge also cause cardiovascular diseases?
22. Isn't it true that "Congress' "Overriding concern"--the safe handling of hazardous waste (H.R. Rep. at 3) and the elimination of "the last remaining loophole" in environmental regulation (H.R Rep at 4) --must prevail"? (FR 45-33092).
23. Isn't it true that several legislative mandates (RCRA, HSWA) were already in place in the Federal regulations when sludge dumping was proposed under 503, primarily under subtitle D of the RCRA and Section 405(d) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) codified in 40 CFR 257?
24. Isn't it true that Domestic sewage is not regulated under the RCRA because it refers only to the waste in the sewer lines between residential housing and the treatment works?
25. Isn't it true that Section 405(d)(5) also provides that nothing in this section is intended to waive more stringent requirements in the CWA or any other law? (FR 54, p.5758).
26. Isn't it true that to comply with section 405(e)of the CWA the owner or operator of any publicly owned treatment works must not violate these criteria in the disposal of sludge on the land?
Does the legal definition of "Disposal" mean the discharge, deposit, injection, dumping, spilling, leaking, or placing of any solid waste or hazardous waste into or on any land or water so that such solid waste or hazardous waste or any constituent thereof may enter the environment or be emitted into the air or discharged into any water, including ground waters"?
27. Isn't it true that the preamble to the revised regulation reiterates the point that a facility or practice that meets the criteria of Part 257 is classified as a "sanitary landfill" while a facility that fails to meet the criteria is considered an "open dump" for purposes of State solid waste management planning?
Do practices which fail to meet the criteria constitute "open dumping"? (FR 56, p. 50979).
Thank you for your time in answering these important questions in a timely manner.
Linda Zander, Director Help For Sewage Victims 803 East Main Everson, Wa. 98247
After reading Linda Zander's 8/29/2004 FOIA request (1) I can't decide if I admire you for becoming the lightening rod for EPA's bad sludge dumping policy or sympathize with the precarious predicament you've gotten yourself into. We went to war over the deaths of less than 3,000 people, yet, according to government figures, you bad sludge policy is killing 3 times that many people every year.
I don't think you can dodge the stink of your 503 sludge dumping policy by letting someone else charge Zander for non-answers. You appear to be the only one left that has all the answers.
As you are aware, I wrote the paper "Sludge Disposal: Sanitary Landfill --Open Dump -- Superfund Site" which was published in February 1993 by the New Mexico Environmental Department.(2) The paper was based on your rather conservative 1989 proposed part 503. It would appear that it is still as relevant today as it was in September of 1992 when it was present at the New Mexico Governor's Conference on the Environment. The final 503, also published in February 1993, was a killer of the first order. More farms are being destroyed and more people are dying from contaminated food and water than I could have imagined. Primarily, because you removed all references to pathogens, carcinogens and toxic pollutants from the final regulation. Then put together a program to blame the victims because you knew it was unlikely a connection could be made to sludge that can kill without leaving a trace marker in the body. (5)
It is highly unusual that an individual would step forward at any Agency and take the credit, as you have, for creating environmental problems, such as open sludge dumps (non-point source environmental pollution) on farmland, etc. Particularly, when it is causing so much environmental and human health damage.
As an example, EPA, USDA, FDA report to the President "Food Safety, From the Farm to the Table" (May 1997) showed a dramatic increase of pathogenic food contamination incidents between 1990 to 1994, from 6.5 million to 34 million with 9,000 annual deaths. It specifically stated that among the causes were "poor farming practices, including production and harvesting activities, or disposal of solid waste on land."
Furthermore, it noted a few of the health effects that could be expected from a few of the deadly pathogenic disease organisms: "These microbial pathogens may give rise to diseases that are far more serious than the uncomfortable but relatively temporary inconvenience of diarrhea and vomiting, which are the most common symptoms of so-called "food poisoning." Foodborne infections can result in very serious immediate consequences, such as spontaneous abortion, as well as long-lasting conditions such as reactive arthritis, Guillain-Barré syndrome (the most common cause of acute paralysis in adults and children), and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure and death, particularly in young children." (3)
By 1996, Ralph Touche, Chief Sanitarian for the Public Health Department stated the pathogenic disease contamination of food was up to 80 million incidents annually. The GAO raised the number of pathogenic disease contaminated food incidents to 81 Million in 1997. More recently, the CDC has lowered the number to 76 million.
As I understand your position, you seem to be accepting the blame for 50,000 to 100,000 food contamination deaths over the past 10 years, because as the sludge expert at EPA:
1. you removed the list of 25 primary pathogens known to be in sewage sludge from the final 503. Federal Register FR), 54, P.5829
2. you to removed the list of twenty-one acknowledged carcinogens (cancer causing agents) in sludge from the final 503. (FR 54,p. 5777).
3. you removed the statement from the final 503 that five of those twenty-one carcinogens in sludge are carcinogenic when inhaled -- Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium IV and Nickel. (FR 54, p. 5777).
4. you removed Chromium from the land application section of the regulation because you think applying 3,000+ ppm of chromium on lawns, gardens and food crops is safer than placing less than 600 ppm of chromium on a 503 surface disposal site.
5. you stated "The term "toxic pollutant" is not used in the final part 503 regulation because this generally is limited to the list of priority toxic pollutants developed by EPA". (FR. 58, 32, p. 9327)
6. you also stated "the Agency concluded that Congress intended that EPA develop the part 503 pollutant limits for a broader range of substances that might interfere with the use and disposal of sewage sludge, not just the 126 priority pollutants". (FR. 58, 32, p. 9327)
7. you deliberately added the term "food crops' to the 30 day "feed crop" harvest restriction clause in the 1993 final 503.32(b)(5)(iv) to get around the 14 month harvesting restrictions for plants with harvested parts that are totally above the land surface" in 503.32(b)(5)(i).
8. In a December 1999 email you also wrote that, that if a person was exposed to the pollutants in sludge, through the air, water or food as stated in 503.9(t), a person could expect to see death, cancer, disease or mental or physical problems, including birth defects.
9. you have stated many times that if the regulations were followed, sludge was safe. Apparently, according to the 503.4 policy, you meant the real sludge regulation 40 CFR 258 which meets the requirements of the RCRA as amended by Section 405(d) of the CWA.
10. in stating that the part 258 solid waste landfill regulation under the Clean Water Act is the only method of complying with Section 405(d) , it is clear that the 503 sludge policy violates the CWA and RCRA.
11. you give a municipality a simply choice. Either properly dispose of sludge as a permitted solid waste as required by the CWA/RCRA or consider sludge to be a fertilizer under the 503 policy.
12. you apparently developed the concept of the 503 policy so that if the quality of sludge makes it impossible to be put in a landfill that complies with the CWA & RCRA, then it can be disposed of under some part of the 503 policy at the uninformed farmers expense.
13. You have given the municipalities 4 choices under 503:
1). If the quality of the sludge makes it impossible to be incinerated, which can cause environmental air quality health hazards, it can be disposed of as a fertilizer.
2). If the quality of the sludge makes it impossible to be disposed of in a surface disposal site, which can cause environmental groundwater health hazards, then it can be disposed of as a fertilizer.
3) If the quality of the sludge makes it impossible to sell or be giving away as a fertilizer for home lawns & gardens or parks, which can cause environmental health and pathogenic disease health hazards, it can be given to farmers as a fertilizer.
4) If it cost to much money to raise the quality of sludge so it can be placed in a CWA/RCRA landfill, or incinerated, or placed in a surface disposal site, or sold to home owners, it can be given to farmers as a fertilizer.
14. your concept appears to be that if EPA considers the worse quality sludge to be a fertilizer disposed of as a nonpoint source of pollution on farmland, it will not cause air quality health hazards or groundwater health hazards or pathogenic disease health hazards when disposed of directly on food crops or grazing land.
15. You also appear to have much more power than the Administrator of the EPA or the EPA OIG to prevent laws from being enforced. It would appear that you can suspend the laws associated with these sludge dump sites. As an example, in a January 28, 1992 letter from the EPA OIG, that office found that the City of Kansas City, Missouri was not in compliance with the federal laws concern the taking of property for its sludge site, but claimed it had not authority to enforce the EPA contract requirements. Kansas City was also failing to enforce the site restrictions. That has been an open complaint with the EPA OIG since 1991.
Sometimes back you filed a complaint with John Baker of the GSA police department implying at the least, that I was some type of threat that needed to be contained. Baker was a nice guy and that was a complement to an old man who only wants to see the killing stopped.(4) Since 1992, my purpose has been to see if there is any way to make the laws associated with these sludge dump sites work. At some point, the RCRA/CWA laws will work.
At that point, there is going to be a lot of pissed off state legislators, scientists as well as major scientific and environmental organizations. That will add fire to the 70+ organizations that are already outraged, who are trying to work within the laws.
I wouldn't want to be in your precarious predicament when the public finally understands that neither you or the Agency has any concern for their health or the environment. Especially, now that studies have shown that SIDS is caused by a virus.
Personally I know you were not totally responsible for the sludge policy. Its just a game. But I believe this would be a good time for you to help turn this situation around before the public assess' blame and you become the only scapegoat available.