by Jim Bynum

In 1993, EPA issued part 503 as a self-implementing blanket permit (federal authorization) for the
release of hazardous substances [pollutants] in sludge on lawns, gardens and food crop production
land. This federal permit gives immunity for creating superfund sites as well as spreading death,
disease, cancer etc, among sludge users, their customers and their neighbors.

To accomplish this, EPA leaders had to lie about the science, ignore protection of public health and
the environment, federal laws, the intent of Congress, and claim a commercial fertilizer exclusion under
the CERCLA, which provided for the clean up of  superfund sites.
(FR. 58, 32, pp. 9326, 9263, February 19, 1993).

Which brings up the question, Is the beneficial sludge use Section of the 1993 guideline 40 CFR 503 a
result of murderous intent, or absolute stupidity, on the part of EPA leaders and the people who
backed the decision to spread death, disease, cancer, etc., on farms, lawns and gardens and parks?
Many of them have Ph.D's so it's not likely that they are stupid. These people have had all this

According to the preamble to part 503, the only justification for the beneficial use Section of 503 was
so pollution removal credits for ten toxic metals could be issued to polluters, if the highly contaminated
toxic sludge was land applied as a fertilizer.  Only three metal are available for removal credits when
disposed of in a part 503 surface disposal site .  

EPA has two sludge disposal options that fulfill the requirements of the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act and The Clean Water Act to protect public health and the environment. The guidelines
to fulfill these requirements are given in 1979 guideline 40 CFR 257 and the 1991 guideline 40 CFR
258. EPA also has two sludge disposal options which partial fulfill the requirements of Section 405 of
the Clean Water Act: 1) the land application section of part 257 which puts very strict controls on
Cadmium, and 2) the surface disposal section of part 503 which has very strict controls on arsenic,
chromium and nickel. Both allow production of food crops under limited conditions.

These are toxic pollutants under the NPDES guideline part 122.2.
Toxic pollutant means any pollutant listed as toxic under section 307(a)(1) or, in the case of
"sludge use or disposal practices," any pollutant identified in regulations implementing section
405(d) of the CWA

Why do you think it is that a solid waste sludge land application site under part 257 must be at a pH
6.5 for the sludge/soil mixture when it contains Cadmium at over 2 mg/kg? Not only that, but why can
only 0.5 kilogram of Cadmium be disposed of annually where food crops such as leafy vegetables,
root crops or tobacco are grown? Why is it that if those two provisions are not met, the sludge must be
placed one meter (three feet) underground if food crops are grown on the sludged ground? (40 CFR

The intent of EPA leaders and the people who support the beneficial sludge use program can be seen
in the fact that the part 257 land application requirements still apply to sludge from an industrial
wastewater treatment plant. Yet, If residential sewage and hospital sewage, with the accompanying
deadly disease organisms, are added to the industrial wastewater mixture and treated in a municipal
wastewater treatment plant, the 2 mg/kg requirement land application is ignored and the beneficial
sludge use Section of part 503 allows 89 mg/kg cadmium in sludge for food crop production with no
control of pH. Not only that, but the annual cadmium disposal rate per hectare jumps from 0.5 kilogram
to 1.9 kilogram for food crop production land with no pH control.

The murderous intent of EPA leaders can be seen by the fact that the part 503 allows 89 mg/kg of
cadmium in Class A sludge. Part 503 does not mention "exceptional quality" Class A sludge which
does not require that any records be kept. EPA claims the monthly average concentration of cadmium
in sludge at 39 mg/kg would make the sludge "exception quality" for fertilizing lawns and gardens as
well as food crop production, without any pH control. At this level of cadmium, the "exception quality"
sludge would have to be three feet below the surface in a part 257 landfill land  application site where
food crops are grown.

Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, spinach and tobacco, as well as certain staples such as
potatoes and grain foods accumulate the highest level of cadmium. Tobacco studies gives us an idea
of how contaminated our food could be: "Actually, United States Department of Agriculture studies
(1974) indicated there could be very serious problems with tobacco grown on land where toxic sewage
sludge was used because of the high uptake of Cadmium. "Chaney et al. (84)--- observed Cd
(Cadmium) content in tobacco to be 15 to 20 ppm at 1 ppm in the soil, and 45 ppm with 2 ppm Cd in
the soil." (1) North Carolina State University studies found, "3. The bottom leaves of tobacco
consistently had the highest Cd concentrations. With tobacco grown on Norfolk soil at Ph 5.2 and 1.8
ppm Cd in the soil, the Cd content in the lower leaves averaged 73 ppm compared to 26 ppm in leaves
higher up the stalk." (1)"

Tobacco grown on sludge would have some very high numbers of cadmium  -
89 ppm x 20 = 1780 ppm
39 ppm x 20 = 780 ppm

In 1989, EPA stated that cadmium was a "probable human carcinogen [by inhalation] based on
sufficient animal data and suggestive human data." EPA also stated, Arsenic, Chromium and nickel
are "human carcinogens [by inhalation] based on sufficient epidemiological data." (Federal Register
vol. 54, P. 5777)

How is the decision made to dispose of sludge in a semi-safe surface disposal site or dump it as a
fertilizer? In 1993, EPA made the choice ease when it stated, "When sewage sludge is not used to
condition the soil or to fertilize crops or vegetation grown on the land, the sewage sludge is not being
land applied. It is been disposed of on the land. In that case, the requirements in the subpart on
surface disposal in the final part 503 must be met." (FR. 58, 32, p. 9330)

Sludge couldn't be used on a farm until 503.13  was revised allowed high levels of contamination on a
beneficial sludge use site with no runoff controls and  part 503.32 (iv) was revised to allow all Food
crops, feed crops, and fiber crops to be harvested  30 days after application of sewage sludge

The murderous intent of the EPA leaders can also be seen by the fact that the highest contaminated
sludge can be disposed of as a fertilizer 10 meters (about 30 feet) from any water course. Yet, it can
not be disposed of at the same high levels that close to a part 503 surface disposal boundary. In fact,
despite the extremely low level of contamination allowed on a surface disposal site under 503.22,  
under the 503.24 Management practices.
(g)(1) Run-off from an active sewage sludge unit shall be collected and shall be disposed in
accordance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements and any other
applicable requirements.
(2) The run-off collection system for an active sewage sludge unit shall have the capacity to handle
run-off from a 24-hour, 25-year storm event.
(k) A food crop, a feed crop, or a fiber crop shall not be grown on an active sewage sludge unit,
unless the owner/operator of the surface disposal site demonstrates to the permitting authority that
through management practices public health and the environment are protected from any reasonably
anticipated adverse effects of pollutants in sewage sludge when crops are grown.

There is a good reason for these strict controls. EPA has said, "...If sewage sludge containing high
levels of pathogenic organisms (e.g.,viruses, bacteria) or high concentrations of pollutants is
improperly handled, the sludge could contaminate the soil, water, crops, livestock, fish and shellfish"
(Preamble to 503, FR. 58, 32, p.9258).

Not only that, but "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)

Yet, EPA put together a public relations campaign to use the highest contaminated sludge as a
fertilizer. Then, after a full fledged public relation campaign promoting the safety of sludge use based
on the scientific Risk Assessment claim for part 503, EPA actually stated in the part 503 Risk
Assessment that these same metals or  any other toxic metal, did not cause or induce cancer by any
of the exposure pathways it evaluated. (Chapter 6, p. 110)

Under the Clean Water Act, Cadmium is classified as a hazardous substance (part 116 & part 258)
and a priority toxic pollutant. That is why in 1979, EPA gave a very good reason for the carefully
control off Cadmium disposal in the preamble to part 257: "The kidney is considered the main target
organ for chronic exposure to Cadmium, although chronic respiratory effects have been observed in
longterm occupational settings. Upon ingestion or inhalation, the metal gradually accumulates in the
kidney cortex. According to both clinical-epidemiological and Model-calulation data, the critical
concentration of cadmium in the kidney cortex is approximately 200 micrograms per gram (ug/g), wet
weight, in the average human. At that level, renal tubular dysfunction, characterized by proteinuria, is
expected to occur. This condition is manifested by the excretion of B2 -microglobulin, which is the
earliest discernible laboratory evidence of organ damage. Although mild or moderate increases in
excretion of B2 -microglobulin, per se, are not life-threatening, the condition is often irreversible, and
continued excessive exposure to cadmium can lead to other renal function adnormalities (such as
glycosuria, amino-acid uria, and phosphaturia). Several autopsy studies have been performed to
determine cadmium content of various types of body tissue, such as kidney and liver. These studies
confirmed that the kidney is the organ which contains the highest  concentration of cadmium and that
the concentration increase with age." (Federal Register vol. 44, p. 53450)

"Inflammation in the glomeruli is called glomerulonephritis, or simply nephritis. Many diseases can
cause this inflammation, which leads to proteinuria. Additional processes that can damage the
glomeruli and cause proteinuria include diabetes, hypertension, and other forms of kidney diseases."
"Proteinuria is also associated with cardiovascular disease. Damaged blood vessels may lead to heart
failure or stroke as well as kidney failure."
"Hypertensive people who develop proteinuria stand a significant chance for kidney failure. African
Americans are 20 times more likely than Caucasians to develop hypertensive-related kidney failure.
Proteinuria in people with diabetes may be a sign that kidney disease is worsening. Microalbuminuria
is often cited as a risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) and is often diagnostic of it and related
cardiovascular conditions."

EPA give a good example of the problem with cadmium in the preamble to part 257: "Various models
have been established to calculate the daily level of exposure which will result in a cadmium of 200
ug/g in the kidney cortex, i.e., the concentration at which tubular proteinuria can be expected to occur.
EPA scientists reviewed these models and have reached the following consensus. Ingestion of 440
micrograms of cadmium per day over a 50-day period is a reasonable estimate of the amount of
cadmium necessary for 50 percent of the individuals  within the population to develop proteinuria. It is
significant to point out, however, that there are many individuals who may develop proteinuria at lower
levels. The metabolic model, developed by  Friberg, shows that ingestion of  200 micrograms per day
over a 50-year period is the level at which most sensitive individuals accumulate 200 ug/g cadmium in
the kidney cortex. The dose-response model, developed by Kjellstrom and Norberg, reflects a
non-threshold dose-response. Using this model, daily cadmium exposures in the range of 100 to 125
micrograms would produce renal dysfunction in about 5 to 8 percent of the population after some 50
years of exposure. These model calculations are based on the assumption that all cadmium intake is
through the diet. Therefore, allowances are necessary for non-dietary routes of cadmium intake,"
(Federal Register vol. 44, p. 53450)

Anyone involved with the EPA's current sludge disposal program under 40 CFR 503 knows that any
type of exposure (direct, or through air, water or foodchain) to the chemicals and pathogens
(pollutants) in sludge could cause death, disease, cancer, physical and mental problems as well as
birth defects to the unsuspecting public. That is a given, otherwise  EPA would not have included that
statement of fact in part 503.9(t) and a more emphatic statement in the Clean Water Act (CWA).

According to Congress, "(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 [living entity], 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 reproductions) of physical deformations, in
organisms [people or animals] or their offspring." (Title 33, part 1362)

Every sludge expert knows that the beneficial use section of part 503 is a simple federal permit to give
immunity to those people who spread death, disease, cancer among the public through the air, water
and food chain. The term biosolids was invented as a public relations tool to change the public
perception about the dangerous nature of sludge and imply that all pollutants have been removed
during the treatment

The State of Washington claims biosolids are something different from sludge. According to its
website, "By definition, sludge is a solid waste, but biosolids are not a solid waste and are considered
a valuable commodity."

The difference according to the website is, "Modern sewage-treatment plants are technologically
advanced facilities that require a great deal of knowledge and skill to operate. While many people
think only of the effluent that is discharged back to a river or bay, the biosolids portion is an important
second product. Up to forty percent of a sewage treatment plant's construction and operating costs
can be attributed to the systems that produce and treat the biosolids.

Treatment plant operators wanted a term that better characterized the time, expertise and expense
that goes into the product. The term was adopted after a nationwide challenge to select a better
name. Washington was the first state to adopt and recognize the term in law (1992).

However, Washington State could only do this under the federal authorization to release hazardous
substance granted by EPA leaders, who ignored the laws. Congress has not changed the laws yet.
According to EPA, under RCRA, when pollutants are removed during the treatment of  domestic
sewage, the effluent which goes through the treatment plant is still treated domestic sewage and is
released under a CWA NPDES permit. "However, during the treatment of domestic sewage, solids and
dissolved materials are removed from the sewage and collected as sludges." "The language of
Sections 1004(27) and 1004(26A) indicates that sludge generated by a wastewater treatment plant,
water supply treatment plant or air pollution control facility is a solid waste for purposes of the Act."
This is of course why part 258 was created in 1991, which according to part 503.4 is the only disposal
method that complies with Section 405 of the Clean Water Act.

503.4 Relationship to other regulations.
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

To understand how badly the public has been misled we need to go back to 1979 when EPA issued 40
CFR 257 the Criteria for Classification of Solid Waste Disposal Facilities and Practices.   The criteria
was based on a "state solid waste management planning effort supported by EPA under subtitle D of
the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA, or the Act)."

EPA issued the guidelines under Section 4002(b) of the Act in 1979 as 40 CFR 256. However, when
last checked, no state has every submitted a solid waste manage plan to EPA for approval under that

"The criteria established the level of protection necessary to provide that "no reasonable probability of
adverse effects on health or the environment will result from operation of the facility."" The facilities
that did not meet that criteria under Section 4004 are open dumps under the Act and prohibited by
Section 4005(c) of the Act.

"The criteria also provide the standard to be applied by the Federal District Courts in determining
whether parties have engaged in acts that violate the prohibition of open dumping, also contained in
Subtitle D of RCRA.  The criteria also partially fulfill the requirement of Section 405 of the Clean Water
Act to provide guidelines for the disposal and utilization of wastewater treatment plant sludge."
(Federal Register vol. 44, p.53438)

Since part 503 is a self-implementing federal authorization to dispose of hazardous substances
contaminated sludge based on the need to issue pollution removal credits under
part 403, Appendix
for the original ten listed toxic metals, there is no provision for addressing or allowing a citizens suit
to protect the environment and/or human health. Many states have taken advantage of the
self-implementing federal authorization granted by 503 to change state law to give immunity to those
people who are spreading death, disease, cancer, etc, among the public at large.

Since the Federal and State Environmental people, as well as municipalities, have known this
information all along, it would appear they have had a murderous intent toward the public, just to save
a little paperwork. This is now a political situation infecting state legislative bodies as well as Congress
and the Senate who have already had Hearings, and agreed sludge was not safe.