Magazine article Insight on the News

The Sludge Report. (News Alert!)

Magazine article Insight on the News

The Sludge Report. (News Alert!)

Article excerpt

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has held critics at bay by demanding peer-reviewed, independent science to support any change in the policy of using processed human sewage on agricultural fields. Now it appears the boot is on the other foot. "There is a serious lack of health-related information about populations exposed to treated sewage sludge," says Thomas A. Burke, a committee chairman at the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences.

The committee panel was tasked with conducting an independent evaluation of the technical methods used to establish the EPA's plan to use biosolids as fertilizer. Burke's official conclusion feeds the concerns of many residents and workers who say their health has suffered due to nearby biosolid sites. The EPA and many state environmental officials have dismissed the complaints as NIMBYism (not in my back yard). The EPA-backed sludge industry has fought (sometimes in court) to reverse local governments that have taken actions to ban sludge.

The report appears to vindicate EPA whistle-blowers who warned of the faulty science under which sludge policy was adopted. "The EPA misled the public on sewage-sludge safety, and now private industry is very vulnerable to toxic tort lawsuits," said Stephen Kohn of the National Whistleblower Center in a press statement. …

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