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Fwd: Part 4 -- It began in New York

  • Subject: [cg] Fwd: Part 4 -- It began in New York
  • From: TheBynums@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 04:17:04 EDT


  • Subject: Part 4 -- It began in New York
  • From: TheBynums@aol.com
  • Date: Sun, 13 May 2001 14:39:33 EDT
  • Full-name: TheBynums
Before we look at the EPA/WEF "Fact" Sheet for New York City's 128,000 acre 
sludge dump site in west Texas, we have a South Bronx update by Ms X. Three 
years ago, 25% of the children had asthma. Now over 60% of the children have 
asthma. By any measurement, that is a plague. 

Ms X said, "Yes, DEP under the past commissioner, Marilyn Gelber, redirected 
the traffic so that the sludge and transportation trucks do not go by the 
school.  NYFCO did repair the stack emissions so that the heavy "upsets" did 
not occur.  Now there is only the faint smell of sewage sludge for briefer 
periods.  But, we still have a calling committee who call the DEP hotline 
whenever the odor  is there.  The DEP is supposed to take a complaint number. 
 The problem is that in the spring, summer, and fall, the wind and air shift 
and the odors are far more discernible.  When I walk to my car on some days, 
my throat starts to hurt and then I get nauseas.  Then I am aware of the 
odor.  Last October, I wrote a letter to the DEP asking for the number of 
complaints against NYOFCO, citations, and fines.  The court ordered a $1200 
fine every time there was a citation.  I received a letter back in March 
stating that according to the Freedom of Information Act, no information 
about NYOFCO has been given.  Couldn't get another job because of my field 
and that I am too old.  Don't know why I am still there.  The bottom line is 
that now over 60% of the children have asthma, according the assistant 
principal.  I am seeing thyroid problems:  hyperthyroid and hypthyroid.  
Heart problems affect young people. I feel like a total failure in this fight 
and got burned out." 

That is heartbreaking, but these people have no mercy. Make no mistake, I'm 
not talking about the New York Fertilizer Company. I'm talking about the City 
who pays the Corporation to do a dirty job, and the State who has a 
responsibility to protect its citizens from harm by enforcing the 
environmental laws, rather than accepting EPA's policy and saying, its EPA's 
problem. The same can be said for most sludge transporters and dumpers, they 
are only doing what the government wants them to do. For the most part, they 
may not know or care what the environmental laws demand. However, all of 
these people have forgot the basic premise of society's rules, Ignorance of 
the law is not a defense. 

Now lets look at where the sludge train stops. Number 1 on the list to debunk 
was the Merco/NYC  biosolids TV expose with EPA's Bob Bastian as the contact 
person.  The first WEF/EPA fact sheet focuses on Sierra Blanca, Texas where 
national attention was drawn by TV Nation's program which followed a Merco 
sludge train from New York to Sierra Blanca.  What worried WEF and EPA most 
about the Sierra Blanca incident was the effect on the audience of the 
appearance of EPA's own senior hazardous waste expert, Hugh Kaufman, who said 
on the program:
      What you have here is an illegal `haul and dump'  operation 
masquerading as an   
      environmentally beneficial project, and its only a masquerade---The 
fishes off New
     York are being protected, the citizens and land of New York are being 
      and the people of Texas are being poisoned. Something is rotten in 
     (Stauber, John, & Rampton, Sheldon, (1995) Toxic Sludge Is Good for You 

An irate Merco sued Kaufman and TV Nation's producer, Sony Entertainment 
Pictures, as well as Bill Addington, a local merchant, accusing them of 
"defamatory and disparaging statements....made with actual malice and 
reckless disregard
for truth" (Ibid, p. 118). Addington was dropped from the suit at the last 
moment, mainly because he had nothing they could take after his lumber yard 
was burnt.  Addington's activities in opposing the sludge dumping also cost 
him his wife and adopted son because of the threats and their fear of harm.

Since June 1992, New York sludge has been transported by rail to a 128,000 
acre ranch in Sierra Blanca, Texas owned by Merco Joint Venture. 
Approximately 80 tons a day of Class B sludge is spread on the ranch to 
fertilizer the grass. Due to local opposition and national attention, EPA and 
WEF had to create a public relations fact sheet extolling the Merco project 
as an example of a successful beneficial sludge use project.

Excerpts from a few of the WEF/EPA major contentions have been selected and 
answered with the rest of the story, which was not told in the fact sheets.
EPA / WEF Biosolids Fact Sheet 1


EPA/ WEFStatement:
          Detractors have expressed concerns that the quality of the 
biosolids may be poor or even hazardous.

          The fact is that New York City sludge is hazardous. The disease 
organism alone would cause it to be classified as a hazardous waste under 
federal law.
However, there is more reasons,  according to a New York City study (Wat. 
Tech. (1987) Vol. 19, No. 9.p. 133, pretreatment by industry would not help 
York City control the toxic metals. They say, "The 1970 to 1972 study of the  
sources of these heavy metals in New York City waste-water concluded that 
even with zero discharge by industry, 94 percent of the zinc, 91 percent of 
copper, 84 percent of the cadmium and 80 percent of the chromium being 
discharged would continue to be discharged by sources virtually immune to 
treatment (Ref.  1)."

Furthermore, the study found p.  142), "For land application, the Task 4 
Report used NYDEC criteria (Table 5).  It concluded that because of metals  
concentration, 94% of New York City Sludge is presently unacceptable for land 
application.  After pretreatment, either through local limits or categorical
standards, 83% to 84% of New York City Sludges would still be unacceptable 
for land application.  The reason for this is that non-domestic sources of 
pollutant loading, not industrial sources, are primarily responsible for 
with this sludge use.

According to information furnished to the Texas Department of Natural 
in 1992, New York City did have a major sludge problems: 1) 12 of 14 treatment
plants failed copper limits; 2) 1 plant failed the cadmium limit; and 3) 3 of 
plants failed arsenic limits.

New York City had a much greater problem under the proposed regulation with 
organics: 1) the sludge was so contaminated that 11 of the 14 plants failed 
PCBs because they could not get a clean sample.  The test equipment 
detection levels were well above the proposed regulated level in part 503; 2) 
same was true for Toxaphene at 4 of the 14 plants; 3) 1 plant failed on 
Diemethyl Nitrosamine because of the detection level; 4)  9 of 14 plants 
on DDT/DDE/DDD levels because of very high equipment detection limits.

Yet, Texas still welcomed the sludge which was too contaminated to be used    
as a fertilizer in New York State.  In fact, according to the fact sheet, by 
time the sludge got to Texas it was magically transformed from an extremely  
hazardous waste into Exceptional Quality (PC) Biosolids.

What actually happened was that EPA/WEF's Alan Rubin and Writer/Coordinator, 
Dave Trouba, did a little creative writing in the fact sheet. There is little 
doubt Alan Rubin was involved because he was on loan to WEF from EPA for two 
years just to train the WEF members in how to circumvent the environmental 
laws. From the first statement, it would appear that neither one of them had 
the slightest clue about EPA test procedures. 

EPA/WEF Statement:
          Biosolids are analyzed and tested routinely for pollutants and 
disease causing organisms using Toxicity Characteristic Leachate Procedure 
(TCLP) tests.

          The TCLP test method can only be used to detect a few of the 
estimated 500,000 chemicals which can be found in sludge. The TCLP test 
method can not be used for detection of disease causing organisms in sludge. 
The TCLP test simulates, in a laboratory, the potential for a small 
percentage of a hazardous substance
to leach out of a given sample under mismanaged landfill conditions.  There 
is no direct correlation between TCLP test results used in the Fact Sheet and 
the Total Metals Test used for the Part 503 regulation. In fact, based on the 
problems New York City had with the detection limits, there may be no 
relationship between the Total Metals Test results and the actual quantity of 
a pollutant in the sludge.

The Total Metals Test, which is normally used by POTWs, is a cheap test. It 
supposedly measures the total amount of metals in a given sample.  As an 
example, in column 1 of Table 1, in the fact sheet, the EQ or PC federal 
limit for lead is 300 ppm which is derived from the standard Total Metals 
Test methods. The lead level of 193 ppm in column 2, for Merco,  according to 
the fact sheet, is derived from the TCLP hazardous waste test method.  The 
193 ppm is only that small part of the lead which would supposedly leach out 
of the hazardous waste under mismanaged landfill conditions at a rate of  
about 1 part in 20.

This indicates that had the total metals test method been used, the Part 503 
EQ limits of 300 ppm would have been exceeded by approximately 3,560 ppm. 
This would also have exceeded the New York State ceiling limit of 840 ppm for 
lead by approximately 3,020 ppm. 

Actually the numbers indicate that New York City's pretreatment program must 
have improved the quality of the sludge at least by half since the Water 
Science    Technology study of 1987, which showed the average level of lead 
in the NYC sludge was 6,400 ppm.

If this sludge was so clean, as the fact sheet indicated, why wasn't it 
spread on farmland in New York  State?  Why did New York City have to pay 
Merco $800 a ton to take sludge out of State when the average instate cost 
(according to a Pima Gro Systems letter to Imperial County, dated May 17, 
1996), for municipalities to
recycle sludge in a comparable State like California ranges "from the high 
teens and low twenty dollar per ton for biosolids?"

The disturbing fact is that this Class B sludge sent to Texas may be the 
least hazardous portion (27%) of the NYC sludge. The major portion (67%) is 
processed into Class A sludge by the New York Organic Fertilizer Company 
where there are no records or labels required to leave a paper trail when the 
product leaves the plant. Not only that, but no politician or "regulator" is 
really concerned about the odors and the dust carrying pathogenic bioaerosols 
off the site. 

The Biosolids Fact Sheet 1 noted that, "Merco handles 27% of New York City 
biosolids.  About 67% goes to the New York Organic Fertilizer Company, where 
they are pelletized.  According to the Fact Sheet, pelletized biosolids have 
been used on dry wheat farms in Colorado, irrigated cotton and grain farms in 
Arizona, and Citrus orchards in Florida. The remaining six percent is 
landfilled." (p.5)

EPA/WEF Statement:
          After treatment in New York City, Merco voluntarily tests the 
biosolids to further ensure compliance with metal and pathogen requirements 
before they are loaded into sealed containers for shipment to Texas. The City 
of New York also conducts its own tests.

          In spite of all these tests, according to their own Fact Sheet, In 
September 1993, a series of human errors in New York City and in Texas led to 
the application of
nine rail containers of biosolids that had failed to meet the detention 
requirement for PSRP (time for pathogen reduction) . (p. 3)
          Regardless of what the cause was, it was still put on the land 
without meeting the Pathogen reduction requirements in Part 503.  The EPA/WEF 
fact sheet
claimed tests for pathogens done on the soil showed the pathogen levels had 
dropped to acceptable levels. The problem is that while there is an 
acceptable level pathogen standard for sludge and water, there is no pathogen 
standard for soil. The acceptable level for fecal coliform in sludge is two 
million (2,000,000) units per milliliter of sludge vs unacceptable level in 
water (for boating) of twenty (20) units of fecal coliform per milliliter. A 
milliliter is one gram. Oh, and the acceptable level for Class A sludge is 
one thousand (1,000) units of fecal coliform per milliliter.
           According to their own fact sheet, pathogen reduction has been a 
problem, especially pathogen regrowth.  The fact sheet says, "In Texas, the 
testing for the presence of pathogen indicators has occasionally revealed 
varying levels above the federal and state regulatory limits, causing concern 
about pathogen regrowth during transport."   The excuse for the regrowth, 
which the fact sheet claimed was verified by an independent analysis by 
Alternative Resources, Inc., of Stroudsberg, Pa., was "variations were most 
likely caused by inconsistencies in the sampling and analytical methods at 
the five separate labs conducting the analysis. (p.  3)

          We are supposed to believe that five separate laboratories, who 
follow approved EPA procedures, can not perform a simple fecal coliform test, 
which is done routinely by municipal treatment plants.  If these 
inconsistencies are occurring in five separate laboratories how can we place 
any confidence in any of the results of tests done to detect pathogens? Who 
are Alternative Resources, Inc.? Is it a laboratory?  Was any pathogen test 
actually performed by Alternative Resources for comparison, if not, why not? 

EPA/WEF Statement:
          Several stricter-than-normal measures, either imposed by Texas or 
volunteered by Merco were implemented. These included: a biosolids 
application rate at less than agronomic rate; an initial 2-year delay before 
grazing cattle on biosolids-applied land.

          An agronomic rate as defined in the fact sheet is "the rate of 
biosolids application that is designed to provide the amount of nitrogen 
needed by a crop or vegetation to attain a desired yield by minimizing the 
amount of nitrogen that will pass below the root zone of the crop or 
vegetation to the ground water."

If the agronomic rate is needed to provide the right amount of nitrogen to 
the crop, why have they applied the sludge at levels below the agronomic 
rates? How will the sludge applications benefit the soil if they fail to meet 
the nitrogen requirements?  For what reason have they chosen to apply at 
these rates? Is it because they fear acute adverse health effects or 
environmental damage at even agronomic rates?

If sludge is as safe as they claim and if the test results show the sludge to 
be so `clean' as indicated in the Table 3 on page 4 of the fact sheet, why 
are they preventing cattle from grazing on the sludge site for 2- years?  
EPA's Part 503.32(b)(5)(v) says, Animals shall not be allowed to graze on the 
land for 30 days after application of sewage sludge. It would appear someone 
knew disease organisms such as Salmonella could live in the environment and 
infect cattle for well over a year.

EPA/WEF Statement:
          Texas A & M research indicates that there is no significant 
airborne movement of organic material from the biosolids site (such as 
pathogens and/or plant materials) and particulate matter (other organic 
matter and inorganic matter, such as dust or metals). The University of 
Arizona recently did a study on bioaerosols to prove the public at Sierra 
Blanca had little to fear from bioaerosols.  The computer  
modeled a 100 square yard sludge disposal site, 10,000 yards from the 
However, the computer model still came up with the conclusion that within 
1600 feet of the site, there would be a extremely high infection rate.

Was it possible that the reason for the low application rates were to prevent 
the pathogens from leaving the site during the air sampling period? No 
mention is made of volatile compounds in the samples collected. Is that just 
an oversight or was it  possible they were not testing for the 
chemicals--dioxins, Furans, PCBs which are detected at low levels.
Dioxins have been detected even in the parts per quadrillion. Is it probable 
that no tests were conducted on any organic chemicals because they are not 
in Part 503 or anyplace else?

Two recent studies show that anyone living close to a sludge work site could 
be exposed to serious health problems from odors and bioaerosols transported 
off the sites. NIOSH has found that there is a connection between sludge and 
workers on theses site. The CDC recently assigned a Hazard Class 10 to the 
sites and suggested strict safety measures to protect the municipal sludge 
worker. Unfortunately, these warnings and safety measures are not required 
for private farms, their works, and their neighbors. To see how the current 
system works all we have to do is look at the second debunking fact sheet 
against Linda Zander of Washington State.
     Number 2 on the EPA list for WEF to debunk is Linda Zander. The Zanders 
did own a dairy farm until the cattle started dying, as well as some of their 
friend who lived on the farm. The worse part was when her children and 
grandchildren were infected by strange diseases. Linda, a very caring and 
compassionate person, created a non-profit organization called Help For 
Sewage Victims to offer any victims of sewage sludge--advice, information, a 
data base, and a sympathetic ear.  Since its inception, Help for Sewage 
Victims has been very effective in combating the spreading of sewage sludge.  
As of 1998, Zander's story and stories of others harmed by sewage sludge have 
been reported in over 30 mostly small newspapers and 4 farming magazines 
since 1991 as well as in John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton's book, TOXIC 

Through Zander's efforts and those of other tireless workers in grassroots 
movements across the United States, who have banded together to form the 
National Sludge Alliance, the harmful effects of land application of sewage 
sludge, sewage sludge composting and pelletizing are coming to light. Also 
through their efforts, a blinding light is being focused on a corrupt 
political and legal system.

Seeking recompense for the harm done them, Linda and Ray and their family 
filed suit against the sludge hauler, Western Services Inc., the district of 
Birch Bay, the towns of Lynden, Everson, Nooksack, and Sumas, Whatcom County, 
and Van Dalen in 1991.  When Linda went to the courts seeking justice for the 
terrible wrongs that were done to her and her family, she learned the painful 
truth that the justice system in the United States can be subverted by legal 
and procedural issues, especially where environmental issues are concerned. 
State Environmental Departments (and federal) are at the top of the pecking 
order. No other entity in federal or state government has the authority to 
investigate any problem attributed to sludge without their approval.
The suit against Whatcom County and the municipalities were dismissed under 
the Public Duty Doctrine by summary judgment. The Whatcom County Superior 
Court on October 8, 1993, held that the county had no duty to protect the 
Zanders, only a duty to the general public and they were individuals.  The 
Zanders' claim against the various municipalities was dismissed when their 
attorneys, Bricklin and Collins, failed to comply with the municipal claims 
statute 40 CFR Part 135 which states a 60 day notice has to be given before a 
suit can be filed under the Clean Water Act.  When the Zanders appealed the 
decision to the Washington Court of Appeals, the Court affirmed the trial 
court decision on July 31, 1995.  The Zanders' legal battle was halted when 
the Washington Supreme Court refused to review the decision.

When they brought a malpractice suit against Bricklin and Collins, the 
Superior Court of the State of Washington granted summary judgment of 
dismissal to the defendants, Bricklin and Collins. Although the judge noted 
that the state did have a responsibility to protect the individuals, the 
cities involved had a duty to dispose of the sewage sludge--and they were 
only doing their job. The Zanders' are appealing the decision of summary 
judgment based on malpractice which the judge concurred with, nuisance, 
trespass, inverse condemnation and damage to property and persons.

After 12 years of fighting, the Zanders have never had their day in court 
where they could address the sludge issues.  Powerful entities (Washington 
State Department of Ecology and King County Department of Metropolitan 
Services, the EPA, AMSA and WEF) have conspired to prevent this from ever 
happening. According to documented evidence, on February 22, 1993, two State 
Department of Ecology Representatives, Al Hanson, and  Kyle Dorsey, four King 
County Metro representatives, Mark Lucas, Carol Ready, Steve Gilbert, Dan 
Sturgill and their legal counsel, Salley Tenney, of the Metro Legal 
Services,.Mel Kemper of the City of Tacoma, Hal Thurston, an attorney 
representing the cities that were involved in the Zanders' lawsuits and four 
individuals also associated with the Zander law suit, met in a closed meeting 
to discuss the Zander Case.
According to Keith A. Bode, as recorded in the Zander Action Summary, the 
legal cost to stop her will exceed $500,000 dollars. Bode warned those in 
attendance at the meeting that Zander had to be stopped. He said that she had 
identified 18 medical experts (including physicians, immunologists, 
toxicologists, and nutritionists), 9 veterinarians, 2 property 
valuation/devaluation experts, 3 soil/hydraulic/geologic experts and 1 
testing lab who would testify about the dangers of sewage sludge use to 
humans and animals. Bode warned that there would be extra-regional impact and 
"This action must not be settled". He reminded those present:
     The public persona of biosolids is precarious, at best,
     and each member of WEF and AMSA can be assured that
     Zander appears dedicated to capitalizing on every
     available opportunity to publicize her scare story...and
     remember, with respect to land application, the farming
     community comprises less than 2% of the population, so
     she need only reach a narrow population to cripple land
     application. It is essential that her soapbox be removed
     and her credibility challenged before our regional
     problem has any more effect (than she has now)
     nationally or internationally on land application of

Aren't these lovely people? Does any politician really think this is in the 
public's best interest?

Jim Bynum
PO Box 34475
N. Kansas City, Mo. 64116

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