This hearing will address whether EPA, in its development and enforcement of the Part 503 Sludge Rule, is failing to foster sound science with an open exchange of ideas and information between scientists, EPA officials, and private citizens. The hearing will explore allegations that EPA scientists who disagree with EPAâ€™s science associated with the sludge rule were ignored or, worse, subjected to harassment. Even more disturbing are documented reports of intimidation directed at private citizens who express concerns about EPA sludge policies and the science behind those policies.
Bold sections show why this Hearing was a public relations stunt with no regard for sound science.
The hearing will take testimony from researchers, scientists, their representatives and private citizens regarding EPAâ€™s response to concerns raised about the science associated with the Part 503 Sludge Rule.
Dr. Caroline Snyder (85) in her 2005 study "The Dirty Work of Promoting "Recycling"of America' Sewage Sludge", outlines the problem with EPA's sludge/biosolids policy, "Reports of adverse health effects linked to the use of sludge as fertilizer have mounted, especially in the last ten years. Over the same time, EPA forged a powerful alliance with municipalities that needed an inexpensive method of sludge disposal and sludge-management companies that profit from this practice. The alliance' primary purpose was to control the flow of scientific information, manipulate public opinion, and cover up problems, in order to convince an increasingly skeptical public that sludge farming is safe and beneficial. The alliance ignored or concealed reported health problems, threatened opponents with litigation, distributed misleading information to the media, legislators, and the public, and above all, attempted to silence critics."
Dr. Snyder exposes the people behind the EPA sludge policy, "Since its inception, EPA has been promoting sludge use for farming. In the late 1970s, the first land application regulations were formulated by managers and scientists in EPA' Office of Water (OW): Henry Longest II, John Walker, and Alan Hais. As Deputy Assistant Administrator of OW, Longest was one of the people responsible for administering the funds for EPA' multi-billiondollar Construction Grants Program, the United States' largest public works project ever. The purpose of the project was to build wastewater treatment plants, as mandated by the Clean Water Act."
She backs up her history with a quote from "a 1978 memorandum from Walker to Longest", "The goal of 405/4004 sludge regulations should be to promote low cost sludge management . . . [the proposed RCRA provisions] would essentially preclude[land application] as an option. The application of some low levels of toxic substances to land for food crop production should not be prohibited. . . ."
EPAâ€™s Mission President Richard Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency on December 2, 1970. EPAâ€™s stated mission is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment—air, water, and land—upon which life depends. EPAâ€™s purpose is to ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health in the environment where they live, learn and work. To accomplish this mission EPA has established 10 goals described in its 1997 five- year strategic plan. One of those goals is “sound science.” To achieve this goal, EPA states it will develop and apply the best available science for addressing current and future environmental hazards, as well as new approaches towards improving environmental protection. Another stated goal of EPA is to expand Americansâ€™ “Right to Know” about their environment. According to EPA, increased information exchange between scientists, public health officials, businesses, citizens and all levels of government will foster greater knowledge about the environment and what can be done to protect the environment.
RCRA hazardous waste standards. RCRA (5) The term ``hazardous waste'' means a solid waste, or combination of solid wastes, which because of its quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics may-- (A) cause, or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible, illness; or (B) pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed.
(7) certain classes of land disposal facilities are not capable of assuring long-term containment of certain hazardous wastes, and to avoid substantial risk to human health and the environment, reliance on land disposal should be minimized or eliminated, and land disposal, particularly landfill and surface impoundment, should be the least favored method for managing hazardous wastes;
27) The term ``solid waste'' means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant,
(26A) The term ``sludge'' means any solid, semisolid or liquid waste generated from a municipal, commercial, or industrial wastewater treatment plant,
(26) The term ``sanitary landfill'' means a facility for the disposal of solid waste which meets the criteria published under section 6944 of this title
Under the CWA 7) it is the national policy that programs for the control of nonpoint sources of pollution be developed and implemented in an expeditious manner so as to enable the goals of this Act to be met through the control of both point and nonpoint sources of pollution
(6) The term ``pollutant'' means dredged spoil, solid waste, incinerator residue, sewage, garbage, sewage sludge,
(13) The term ``toxic pollutant'' means those pollutants, or combinations of pollutants, including disease- causing agents, which after discharge and upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation or assimilation into any organism, either directly from the environment or indirectly by ingestion through food chains, will, on the basis of information available to the Administrator, cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions (including malfunctions in reproduction) or physical deformations, in such organisms or their offspring.
Congress mandated EPA develop comprehensive regulations under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the control of toxic pollutants in sludge and cautioned, "These regulations must be "adequate to protect human health and the environment from any reasonable anticipated adverse effect of each pollutant." Section 405 (d) (2)(D)." (1993-FR. 58, p. 9250)
according to EPA, "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. 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)
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified Priority Pollutants in regulations that deal with municipal and industrial wastewater (EPA, 1984) due to their toxicity to humans and the aquatic environment. These Priority Pollutants are divided into four classes; (1) heavy metals (oftentimes referred to as trace elements or trace metals) and cyanide, (2) volatile organic compounds, (3) semivolatile organic compounds, and (4) pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In addition, nontoxic organic compounds in wastewater can be transformed into potential toxic chlorinated compounds, such as trihalomethanes, when chlorine is used for disinfection purposes (National Research Council, 1980)." (National Research Council Study, Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in Food Crop Production. 1996)
There are several long lists of toxic pollutants EPA knows may cause death, disease, cancer as well as physical and mental disorders, such as:
(A) any substance designated pursuant to section 311 (b)(2)(A) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act [33 U.S. C. 1321 (b)(2)(A)], (B) any element, compound, mixture, solution, or substance designated pursuant to section 9602 of this title, (C) any hazardous waste having the characteristics identified under or listed pursuant to section 3001 of the Solid Waste Disposal Act [42 U.S.C. 6921] (D) any toxic pollutant listed under section 307(a) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act [33 U.S.C. 1317 (a)], (E) any hazardous air pollutant listed under section 112 of the Clean Air Act [42 U.S.C. 7412], and (F) any imminently hazardous chemical substance or mixture with respect to which the Administrator has taken action pursuant to section 7 of the Toxic Substances Control Act [15 U.S.C. 2606].
However, EPA acknowledged that it was not going to protect public health or the environment. "The Agency recognizes that today's rule [part 503] may not regulate all pollutants in sewage sludge that may adversely effect public health and the environment." (1993-FR. 58, 9253)
"EPA concluded that adequate protection of public health and the environment did not require the adoption of standards designed to protect human health or the environment under exposure conditions that are unlikely and where effects were not significant or widespread." (FR. 58, p. 9252)
The ultimate insult to Congress and the American public was given in a letter to Congressman Conduit, dated October 1, 1993, by Martha G. Prothro, (EPA) Acting Assistant Administrator. She states that, "If the placement of sludge on land were considered to be "the normal application of fertilizer"--it--"would not give rise to CERCLA liability for the municipality generating the sewage sludge, the land applier, the land user or the land owner."
Sludge The Part 503 Sludge Rule has been called into question because of EPAâ€™s alleged treatment of its scientist as well as private citizens who question the science behind the rule. The 503 Sludge Rule allows land application (spreading) of sewage sludge (also known as biosolids) as to fertilizer or condition the soil. The passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972 helped to ensure that municipal wastewater was treated. In 1988, the Ocean Dumping Ban Act was enacted amending the 1972 Clean Water Act. The ban prohibited all dumping of sewage sludge and industrial waste into the ocean after 1991, leaving three main options (each with limitations) to dispose of wastewater and sludge: landfilling, incineration, and landspreading. Incineration requires high capital investment, and is limited because of potential air pollution and the production of toxic ash. Landfilling is very expensive and politically difficult for environmental and societal reasons. EPA has focused on promoting the use of sludge for land application. In 1993, the EPA published the 503 Sludge Rule setting standards for the use or disposal of sewage sludge.
EPA used exclusions in the RCRA & CWA & CERCLA to turn our farms, homes and gardens, school yards, golf courses and forests into point sources of pollution as well as creating open dumps under the RCRA.
EPA focused on farmland sludge/biosolids disposal because of the statutory exclusion for polluted agricultural stormwater runoff.
EPA knowingly based the 1993 regulation on exclusions which do not exist for sewage sludge generated from a wastewater treatment plant. In a letter dated Feb. 7, 1986, to the Honorable Thomas P. O'Neil, Jr., Speaker. U.S. House of Representatives, The (EPA) Administrator, explained: "The purpose of the Domestic Sewage Study was to evaluate the impacts of waste discharged to public owned treatment works (POTW's) as a result of the Domestic Sewage Exclusion. The Domestic Sewage Exclusion, (specified in Section 1004 (27) of RCRA) provides that a hazardous waste, when mixed with domestic sewage is no longer considered hazardous. Therefore, POTW's receiving hazardous waste in this manner are not subject to the RCRA treatment, storage and disposal facility requirements. The premise behind the Domestic Sewage Exclusion is that RCRA management of wastes within a POTW is unnecessary and redundant since these wastes are regulated under the Clean Water Act's regulatory programs." (NSA Public Facts # 100)
"Under CERCLA, protection from liability is also provided when there is a release of a CERCLA hazardous substance and the release occurs pursuant to Federal authorization. Thus under CERCLA, in defined circumstances, the application of sewage sludge to land in compliance with a permit required by section 405 of the Clean Water Act is a Federally permitted release as defined in CERCLA." ---"Consequent, releases of hazardous substances from the land application of sewage authorized under and in compliance with an NPDES permit would constitute a Federally permitted release." (FR. 58, p. 9262 - 40 CFR 257 et al.)
The Concern with Sludge EPAâ€™s standards have generated controversy in the scientific and agricultural communities, as well as with the general public. Although the 503 Sludge Rule establishes minimum quality standards for sludge to be land applied, some scientists, including scientists at EPA, question the adequacy of these standards. Some have also proposed more stringent standards, additional source separation and greater pretreatment of contaminants. Some scientists, both in and out of EPA, have questioned whether the science in the 503 regulations is actually complete. Some have expressed concerns about the effects on humans from contaminants concentrated in the sludge during treatment. Some private citizens that either work with, or live near, sludge have vocalized these same concerns.
As James Smith (EPA) 2005, explains, "The hazards associated with pathogens in land-applied animal and human wastes have long been recognized. Management of these risks requires an understanding of sources, concentrations, and removal by processes that may be used to treat the wastes; survival in the environment; and exposure to sensitive populations." They say, "More than 150 known enteric pathogens may be present in the untreated wastes, and one new enteric pathogen has been discovered every year over the past decade." Futhermore, they say, "For risks to be quantified, more data are needed on the concentrations of pathogens in wastes, the effectiveness of treatment processes, standardization of detection methodology, and better quantification of exposure. "
Part 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.
§ 503.13 Pollutant limits sludge/biosolids land application Arsenic.................................................. 75 Chromium............................................. No limit Nickel................................................... 420
"Sewage sludge with high concentrations of certain organic and metal pollutants may pose human health problems when disposed of in sludge only landfills (often referred to as mono-fills) or simply left on the land surface, if the pollutants leach from the sludge into ground water. Therefore, the pollutant concentrations may need to be limited or other measures such as impermeable liner's must be taken to ensure the ground water is not contaminated" (FR. 58, 32, p.9259)
Unit boundary to property line Pollutant concentration 1 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Arsenic Chromium Nickel Distance (meters) (mg/kg) (mg/kg) (mg/kg) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 0 to less than 25........................ 30 200 210
National Academy Study
In 1993, at the suggestion of the EPAâ€™s Office of Wastewater Compliance and Enforcement, the National Research Councilâ€™s Water Science and Technology Board undertook a study of public health and public perception issues associated with the use of treated municipal wastewater and sludge in the production of crops for human consumption. The NRC set up a committee to conduct the study. The study reviewed the issues surrounding the use of treated municipal wastewater effluents and treated sludge in food crop production. The study concluded in 1996 that sludge could be applied safely to land use, but recommended early involvement of local officials and the public and additional study of the long-term impact of such application.
EPA Q: Were the limits for metals in the Part 503 rule established based on a 1 x 10 -4 risk?
EPA A: No, the Part 503 metals were considered noncarcinogens (they do not cause or induce cancer for the exposure pathways evaluated).
EPA Q: Understanding now that the limits for metal pollutants in biosolids used or disposed were not based on a 1 x 10 -4 risk in the Part 503 rule, were any pollutant limits establiahed on a basis of a 1 x 10 -4 risk?
EPA A: Yes and No. Yes, in that pollutant limit determinations based on 1 x 10 -4 cancer risk level were made for potentially toxic organic pollutants that could occur in biosolids. And no, because the pollutant limits determined in this way were not included in the final rule.
Actually, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences (114) threw the ball back in EPA's court when it said, "The suite of existing federal regulations, available avenues for additional state and local regulatory actions, and private sector forces appear adequate to allow, with time and education, the development of safe beneficial reuse of reclaimed wastewater and sludge."
In a Review (113) of National Academy of Science's (NAS) 1996 literary review report by its National Research Council (NRC) Committee : "Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in Food Crop Production", the authors note NRC cautions, "According to the NRC study, if it [sludge] is not handled properly, it can damage human health, because, "Sewage sludges are recognized as potentially harmful because of the chemical pollutants and the disease-causing agents they may contain". (p. 121)"
EPAâ€™s Alleged Reaction to the Scientists and Citizens Questioning Rule 503 Despite the NRC report, citizens and scientists have continued to raise concerns about land application of sludge. EPA has dismissed these concerns and has allegedly taken what appears to be overly aggressive actions against those that raise concerns. According to a number of researchers, scientists and private citizens involved in the sludge rule debate, EPA has:
· sent hostile letters to private citizens who spoke against sludge in public meetings;
· sent unsolicited emails to and made unsolicited calls to these private citizens at home;
· attempted to discredit scientists outside EPA who have published papers questioning the 503 Sludge Rule;
· filed unfounded ethics violations, denied promotions, and attempted to discredit the scientists concerned who specifically questioned the Sludge Rule.
This hearing will review these allegations to determine if EPA or its employees have resorted to inappropriate tactics and destroyed public confidence in the science underlying the 503 rule making process.
As a Congressional public relations document it seems to have worked. Nothing changed.
Anticipated witnesses for the hearing include: (1) Stephen Kohn, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Whistleblower Center; (2) Jane Beswick, California Farmer; (3) Ellen Harrison, Director of Cornell Waste Management Institute; (4) Dr. Lue-Hing, Former Director of Research and Development, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago; and (5) Charles Fox, Assistant Administrator, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
End result - Scientific studies are now focusing on covering up human health affects. Jane Beswick had to sell the families dairy farm to prevent enforcement actions. EPA's David Lewis was fired for trying to help people who's health was damaged and the families who lost loved ones after being exposed to sludge.