Letter to Robert Stroube, M.D., M.P.H., State Health Commissioner, Virginia Department of Health

It takes a lot of
faith to keep requesting that public officials stop putting the health of citizens at risk
from chemical and disease contaminated sewage sludge/biosolids dumped as a fertilizer. We have
to wonder why doctors forget their oath
to do no harm, and public officials forget their oath to
uphold the laws of the United States?
Why have public officials made a mockery of the claim
that this is a Christian nation? Why have they ignored the basic religious principle of
do unto
others as you would have them do unto you?

I again request that the VDH and Commonwealth officials on all levels of government who
have supported this heinous program cease and desist their role in spreading health
harm in Virginia and institute an immediate moratorium on all land applications.   Failure to
do so will be a call to arms for citizens.

                                                            Barbara L. Rubin
                                                            1496 Teague Drive
                                                            McLean, VA  22101
                                                            October 27, 2005

Robert Stroube, M.D., M.P.H.
State Health Commissioner
Virginia Department of Health
109 Governor Street
Richmond, VA  23218

Dear Dr. Stroube:

Victims of sludge exposure want to complain in the strongest possible terms about the complete
disregard for Commonwealth citizen health and welfare.  This outrageous neglect has been
engaged in by health and environmental regulatory agencies, as well as by local, state and federal
politicians. Virginia has relied on EPA’s claim that sewage sludge is “safe.”  Not only is it
preposterous to claim a product of “unknown” content is “safe,” but most important, EPA no longer
makes this scientifically unsupportable assertion.  Knowing this, VDH continues to intentionally
misrepresent this fact to county after county in their effort to force this harmful product on unwilling
citizens.   VDH can only function with the assistance of politicians. The politicians also chose to
disregard known facts while consistently bowing to the demands of the waste industry, which lobbies
for their votes and rewards their loyalty with contributions.


We hold Virginia’s Assembly and health agencies responsible for the two extremely ill
Commonwealth citizens whose lives have been endangered because of the willful disregard of their
pleas by public officials.  These two women have stepped forward heroically to expose the harm and
injustice being perpetrated on rural citizens.

The stories of the two citizens are telling.  It has been determined by at least three different doctors
that Janice Buchholz has suffered severe chemical burning and obstructive pathway disease caused
by sewage sludge exposure.  Physician letters to support these claims have been made public. [1],

After the initial horrific harm done by this unnecessary chemical exposure, Ms. Buchholz and fellow
citizens complained forcefully to local, state, and federal authorities.  VDH did respond, but in
inadequate, inappropriate and misleading ways.  VDH’s inadequate response of only halting
applications “in the immediate vicinity of the individual...” is the cause of Ms. Buchholz’s continued
adverse health affects. She is not only subject to bioaerisols from other land application sites, but is
exposed when she travels down public roads for her daily needs.

Documents show authorities falsely and inappropriately claimed sludge applied to land one mile from
neighbors “should not affect your health.”  This claim has absolutely no scientific or medical
support.  VDH’s own physician, Dr. Mark Levine concedes “I am unable to offer an opinion as to
what would constitute a safe buffer distance.”   

VDH and the sludge hauler, by the most nefarious means possible, eventually acknowledged that
sewage sludge land applications could cause the severe health consequences suffered by Ms.
Buchholz.   Since written documentation from Jane Woods, Dr. Robert Stroube, and Scott Haley
show sewage sludge spread near Ms. Buchholz was applied according to the BUR, VDH has also
completely discredited their usual misleading insistence that BUR regulations, if followed, protect
citizen health.  

It is infuriating, and perhaps illegal, that in spite of the health warnings by Dr. Levine, and clear
actions to acknowledge health harm by VDH and the sludge industry, VDH continues to process new
permits, willfully disregarding the threat to the lives and health of countless more citizens.    

On August 17, 2005, a few weeks after sewage sludge was land applied to neighboring land in
Frederick County, Linda Messick experienced her 4th near fatal allergic reaction linked to sludge
exposure.   Each successive attack has been worse than the previous one, and Ms. Messick is
warned every time by hospital staff and her doctor that the next one could be fatal.  The drugs
administered to save her life are unfortunately detrimental to her overall health.  Ms. Messick’s
doctor says in his letter   “She has a known sensitivity to mold and I feel the symptoms are made
worse by the application of biosolid fertilizers that have been applied to neighboring farms. I feel
most likely this is a hazard to her health.”

Frederick County citizens also begged officials to halt sewage sludge land applications. Although the
requests were accompanied by doctor’s letters[4], detailed descriptions of past sewage sludge
linked health injury and, in Ms. Messick’s case, notice to farm operators of the grave condition of
citizen health, these compelling requests (including avoiding a potential loss of life) were arrogantly
and intentionally ignored.  Officials passed the buck, or erroneously claimed sludge is safe.  

Citizens want action and lawsuits appear their only remaining recourse.  Sovereign immunity, so
often invoked by government officials, is not ironclad.  Officials acting outside their governmental
duties, for example, deliberately causing public harm, could be subject to civil liability.   Private
parties like farmers and industry might be charged with nuisance, negligence and intentional cause
of harm. To avoid this later exposure, the sludge industry has systematically worked with Congress
to engineer their exemption from all environmental laws.[5]   They have also successfully lobbied the
Virginia Assembly to gut local powers and regulatory control over their potentially harmful product.  
Perhaps it is the politicians who are most responsible for this health debacle by selling out to the
waste industry, thereby exposing scores of innocent citizens to unnecessary health harm.  All the
above parties are held responsible in the court of public opinion and perhaps eventually in our
public courts too.

I again request that the VDH and Commonwealth officials on all levels of government who have
supported this heinous program cease and desist their role in spreading health harm in Virginia and
institute an immediate moratorium on all land applications.   Failure to do so will be a call to arms for

Barbara L. Rubin

Loudoun Neighbors Against Toxic Sludge

cc:  VDH, Governor Warner, US Senators Allen and Warner, VA Assembly, press, media.



[2] http://www.loudounnats.org/pdf/letter_dr_donkor_may_2_2005.pdf

[3] http://www.loudounnats.org/pdf/letter_dr_goldberger_jan_7_2005.pdf

[4] http://www.loudounnats.org/pdf/Letter_Dr_McQueen_07_22_2004a.pdf

[5]  The Dirty Work of Promoting “Recycling” of America’s Sewage Sludge by Caroline Snyder, PhD


at the City created records years later after the applications of sewage sludge that were false in an
attempt to lie about the levels of materials that went on the lands. One example of the egregious
nature of Augusta's conduct was Chlordane was banned from land application to dairy farms and
other uses in 1978 while it was put on the farmers lands long after that time."