Politics of Hazardous Chemicals and Etiologic Agents on Water, Land and Air
The Ticking Time Bomb Explodes
Jim Bynum, VP 11/7/2009
Help For Sewage Victims
The ticking time bomb theory was promoted in a 1980 EPA funded publication "Waste Alert". This term was used in
response to the "time honored practice" of dumping hazardous chemical and sewage waste in shallow land burial sites.
At the same time the Office of Solid Waste Division was intent on cleaning up these massive hazardous waste dump
sites such as Love Canal and Velsicol's 350,000 barrel Hardeman County, Tennessee drum farm, the Office of Water
Division was focused on creating even more chemical and infectious hazardous sewage waste dump sites on
agricultural land under an Inter agency Policy (signed by FDA and USDA). The Water Division promoted the time
honored practice of using sewage as a fertilizer. This eventually resulted in placing this chemical contaminated
infectious waste on your lawn and your child's school grounds as well as in public parks. However, the Office of Water
refused to require the use of the chemical toxicity test for sludge use to determine if the sludge meets the hazardous
waste criteria. The chemical toxicity test used to determine the hazardous level of a substance in waste was designed to
indicate the difference between the level of a hazardous substance disposed of in a landfill and the potential acid
leaching of a portion (approx. 20 ppm = 1 ppm or 5%) of the hazardous substance into the ground water above the
drinking water maximum contaminate levels (MCLs) at a mismanaged landfill. To illustrate the point, if you are dealing
with exceptional quality Class A sludge biosolids with 300 ppm of lead in it, the hazardous leaching level could be 15
ppm. That is 3 times the designated hazardous waste level. It is assumed that the total heat inhibited infectious bacteria
E. coli and Klebsiella are less that 1,000 colonies per gram. However, the bacteria in the sludge biosolids has not been
heat inhibited so no one knows what those numbers are.
Congress was smart enough to declare that a waste with infectious characteristics was a hazardous waste in the 1976
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (updated Solid Waste Act). In an ironic twist of science, EPA decided
to use Christiaan Eijkman's modified elevated temperature test that is used to confirm recent human fecal contamination
in drinking water and food as the gold standard for assuring the safety of primary human fecal material, sewage sludge.
The twisted science is that if a few pathogenic gram negative coliform such as E. coli and Klebsiella are confirmed in
the elevated temperature fecal coliform test, it indicates there are more pathogens in water, which was not elevated to
the same temperature. The Eijkman elevated temperature test is now referred to as the Fecal coliform test. The higher
heat of the test not only inhibits the growth of primary fecal coliform E. coli and Klebsiella, but it suppresses the growth
of other pathogenic gram negative bacteria. Gram negative bacteria are the major group responsible for antibiotic
resistant hospital acquired infections. The time bomb has exploded. Antibiotic resistant bacteria have become common
in community outbreaks. However, the prime examples are not gram negative bacteria. They are Methicillin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE). Neither strain existed in 1980, and do not
show up in the fecal coliform test, nor does the gram negative E. coli 0157:H7 which was created about 1974.
Courts in Missouri and Georgia have now documented that the hazardous substances in sludge are cattle killers, just as
EPA documented in the 1980s "Waste Alert". EPA's Water Division still claims the fecal coliform test, and coliform test
indicate pathogens may be present, but do not reveal any pathogenic bacteria in water, sewage effluent used to irrigate
food crops, or sewage sludge used as a fertilizer or soil amendment on grazing land, food crops, school grounds, parks
and home lawns. What they mean is that they don't know which gram negative pathogens are active in the tests and
that low temperature coliform test for water are allowed a 5% failure rate as long as E. coli and klebsiella can not be
confirmed by the elevated temperature fecal coliform test.
The political climate has favored public and private business over protecting human health and the environment. As
examples, Acetonitrile is a chemical that is metabolized to hydrogen cyanide and thiocyanate in the body. In 1992
alone, 11.3 million pounds were released into the atmosphere. It was found in air ranging from 2 to 7 ppb in both urban
and rural areas. The upside is there is an extreme shortage of the product in 2009. A recent action in May 2009 to
revoke the pesticide carbofuran tolerances on food by EPA might signal a new era at EPA. However, we have to
wonder why EPA had a very long comment period of 500 days when the "Short-term health effects include headache,
sweating, nausea, diarrhea, chest pains, blurred vision, anxiety and general muscular weakness." Long term, it causes
damage to the nervous and reproductive systems. Both meet the RCRA definition of a hazardous waste -- but they are
not hazardous if they are being used???? EPA also plans to address "unacceptable risks to farmworkers during
pesticide application and to birds in and around treated fields".
The results of politicizing hazardous waste and agency policies is the high number of pandemics now suffered by the
public and the chronic inflammation many of us must live with. Chronic inflammation is a result of the immune system
running wild while trying to protect our bodies from the hazardous substances and infectious etiologic agents in our air,
food, or water that we have eaten, inhaled, drank, or absorbed through our skin.
EPA and Its Partners --The Stakeholders in the Hazardous Waste Game
The term stakeholder original meant someone who held the gambling stakes with no interest in the outcome of the
game. As used by EPA and its partners today, the term means "those groups without whose support the organization
would cease to exist.". This usage of the term was first defined by Stanford Research institute, a spin off from Stanford
University. Two examples are the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) and the National Biosolds
Partnership (NBP) organization created and supported by members of Water Environment Federation (WEF) to
promote toxic sewage sludge use on agricultural land, school grounds, parks and home lawns without regard to public
health and the environment. Also, of interest here is that Stanford University holds the first patent for creating chimera
bacteria such as E. coli 0157:H7 which is creating havoc in food and public health, especially where treated sewage is
used to irrigate food crops.
Some folks think we are the most intelligent group of people that has every inhabited this planet. Recent political history
tends to prove that is not true, However, on the surface it does appears to be true. In a little over hundred years we
have developed automobiles, airplanes, space craft, television, and the World Wide Web known as the Internet. We
have also created over 80,000 chemicals with unknown health effects, either alone or in combination. To top that off, we
have developed the god like ability to create new forms of infectious etiologic (disease causing) agents never before
seen in nature, and for which we have little or no treatment.
During that same time period we were dumping toxic wastes contaminated with chemicals and etiologic agents into
water, on land and into the air as a means of disposal without any concern for the damage to human health or the
environment. In the early part of the 20th century it was understandable to some degree. Raw sewage was being
released into surface water. Many municipalities had huge land treatment farms for the treatment of sewage. Sewage
treatment plants were just starting to be evaluated by some municipalities because sewage contaminated drinking water
was a known cause of cholera. Toxic chemicals, metals and infectious pathogenic agents were never a major
consideration in the disposal of sewage. Milwaukee started to heat dry sewage sludge in 1926-27 and sell it nationally
as Milorganite fertilizer for golf courses and ball parks. In 2007, about 30 Milwaukee playgrounds and ballfields were
closed after high levels of PCB contaminated Milorganite was donated for use as a fertilizer. The official opinion was
that it was not likely to cause disease in children playing on the fields.
The organization "Federation of Sewage Works Associations" was created the following year after Milorganite came on
the market to promote the industry science. The name was later changed to Federation of Sewage and Industrial
Wastes Associations in 1950 which was actively involved in research based on the level of science available at that
time. In 1960 the name was changed to Water Pollution Control Federation which continued research. In the 70s
members of the Water Pollution Control Federation became involved EPA's sludge disposal research and when the
Proposed Part 503 sludge use and disposal regulation was release in 1989, the Water Environment Research
Foundation was created as an independent scientific research organization funded by industry and the federal
government geared toward proving sewage sludge and treated sewage effluent was safe for use as a fertilizer and
irrigation of food crops. The Water Pollution Control Federation name was changed to the Water Environment
Federation (WEF) in 1991 and one of the first order of business was to create a name change task force whose
purpose was to dream up a new name for sewage sludge disposed of on agricultural land and marketed as a consumer
fertilizer and soil amendment for home use. The final choice, biosolids, was chosen as a means to convince the public
and political bodies that toxic sludge was simply biological solids and not a solid waste as defined by the RCRA. The
name was not complete untrue, since even treated sludge is composed of biological active infectious pathogens
included free with solids in a liquid base. Heat dried sludge such as Milorganite is a biological solid waste loaded with
desiccated biological bacteria and endotoxins components (which may become active when wet) and hazardous
substances. Elevated heat causes most gram negative bacteria to become dormant, with a few exceptions. The primary
pathogenic bacteria that are used as indicators in the elevated temperature fecal coliform test used on sludge to imply
its safety are two gram negative heat inhibited pathogenic coliforms, E. coli and klebsiella. Sludge with less than 1,000
colonies of total E. coli, Klebsiella or other gram negative bacteria with the thermotolerant gene per gram may be
designated Class A. Sludge with less than 2 million colonies of total E. coli, Klebsiella or other gram negative bacteria
with the thermotolerant gene per gram is designated Class B.
EPA released the final Part 503 Use and Disposal regulation in February 1993 with the stipulation that if sludge disposal
was considered to be the "normal application of fertilizer", along with a Federal NPDES permit, then a release of
hazardous substances (503 pollutants) would not create any liability under the Superfund Act. By December of 1994,
EPA's John Walker and Bob Bastian had compiled a list of 19 sludge horror stories they gave to the WEF to debunk.
Not only that, but they found a writer the WEF was ordered to hire and listed the people to furnish the information and
how to handle the Candidates for the Rest of the Story. To top it off, the funding for the WEF project would come from
EPA's pollution prevention budget. WEF implies that all of the horror victims listed as reviewers approved the "Fact
Sheets". The most notable victim listed as a reviewers is Linda Zander, President, Help for Sewage Victims. The horror
stories were written up as WEF Biosolids Fact Sheets and posted on the Biosolids Partnership website, another
organization created by EPA and its stakeholders to promote sludge use as a fertilizer and soil amendment.
Walker's instructions to WEF's Nancy Blatt were explicit, "If the cases were (2) Zander, (4)Miami-Dade,
(5) Tree Kill, (6) Miniature horses, (7) Bioaerosols, (10) AIDS, (11) Lou Gehrig's Disease, (12) Turf
grass loss, (13) Dead cattle in NC; then the audience might be the general public who various anti
groups tell the "horrors" of these cases and to which we would tell the rest of the story. The audience
might also be WEF biosolids spokesperson and/or the wastewater professionals who would be working
with the general public to tell the authoritative truth. Some of the cases may be written up for more than
one audience, (i.e., differently for each different audience.)"
Walker's memo did not explain to Blatt how to handle number "(14) BLM policy opposing use of
biosolids on Federal lands: equating it(s) use to hazardous waste dumping and landfilling raising
SUPERFUND liability concerns."
The horrors referred to here, according to Walker's 12-29-94 memo are, "(2) Linda Zander case - sick &
dead cattle, worker health -Farm Bureau and Dairy Today stories. (5) Tree kill in Washington State with
King Co METRO biosolids on Weyerhauser land. (6) Miniature horse deaths in Oklahoma. (7) Biosolids
-- claim need for 2 to 5 mile barrier in NYC. (10) Biosolids a cause of AIDS, (11) Biosolids used on ball
fields causing Lou Gehrig's Disease -what it took to debunk this claim. (12) Maryland turf grass grower
crop loss due to biosolids use - involved grower's use of a highway roller on his fields. (13) Raleigh,
NC-- dead cattle from nitrate poisoning due to forage with high nitrogen content. Forage was not mixed
with other low-nitrate fodder as advised by the POTW."
The Zanders' have never had their day in court where they could address the sludge issues even though their dairy
was destroyed. 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 biosolids.
The Zanders were not the only ones to have their dairy farm destroyed. Ed Roller's dairy farm in Sparta, Mo. was
destroyed by contaminated runoff from a neighboring sludge farm. Robert Rune's dairy cattle in Vermont were
destroyed by crops he raised on sludged land. The Andy McElmurray dairy farm and Bill Boyce dairy in Georgia were
also destroyed by crops raised on sludged land. Only Roller, McElmurry and Boyce have received any court ordered
compensation which did not cover the damage. However, the court did order USDA to compensate McElmurry for land
that was to contaminated to grow crops. Many of the dying cattle were sent to the slaughterhouse and into the food
chain. Just as important, contaminated milk from the dairy cattle was also allowed to enter the food chain by regulators.
The Alice Minter Trust farm in Kansas City, Mo. was also destroyed for growing crops by runoff from the City owned
sludge farm. Individual soil test reveal that both E. coli and Salmonella were at over 800,000 colonies per 100 grams of
soil. The individual test for heat inhibited E. coli and Klebsiella fecal coliform revealed levels of only 3000, 9000 colonies
per 100 grams of soil. However, a third test revealed 650,000 fecal coliform per 100 grams of soil in an area the City
had mistakenly applied sludge 7 years earlier. The crops from this contaminated soil as well as the City's sludge farm
went directly into the human foodchain.
Studies have documented Salmonella infection of cattle grazing on pastures fertilized with toxic sewage sludge and a
cycle of infection from humans to sludge to animals to humans. (Taylor and Burrows. 1971, WHO. 1981, Dorn, 1985)
Studies have also documented the acute toxicity of organic pollutants in sewage sludge (which the EPA does not
address in the beneficial use regulation) and that the pollutants in sludge may not leave any indication in the body as to
the actual cause of death. (Babish. 1981, 1985). Beneficial use, according to two EPA funded "scientific studies" is
based on the fact that "Suitable landfill sites are, however, being exhausted. Thus sludge is now being applied to
farmland by many municipalities." (Dorn, 1985). and "The limited capacity of sanitary landfills is quickly exhausted, and
communities are not providing for new landfills." (National Research Council (NCR), 1996). The federal Bureau of Land
Management has over 250 million acres which could help the landfill situation, but as noted above it thinks about
Superfund liability. As EPA noted in the preamble to part 503, "Sludge disposed of in a sanitary landfill will not harm
anyone, nor will it contaminate the food or water supply." (Federal Register (FR.) 58, 32, p. 9375).
In 1914, the Public Health Service settled on the gram negative family Enterobacteriaceae member E. coli as an
indicator of recent fecal contamination in food when incubated for 48 hours at 37 deg C to produce gas and/or acid in
the coliform test. The 1919 medical textbook Modern Surgery opined that the bacillus of Escherich may be responsible
for appendicitis, peritonitis, inflammation of the genito-urinary tract, pneumonia, inflammation of the intestine,
leptomeningitis, perineal abscess, cholangitis, cholecystitis, myelitis, puerperal fever, wound infections and septicemia.
Even as late as the 1950s, scientists still thought the 1904 Eijkman test (fecal coliform test) which incubated samples at
46 deg C for 48 hours was the definitive test for E. coli proving recent fecal contamination from warm blooded animals. It
was assumed other gram negative coliform were from cold blooded animals. Most important, scientists found that
bacteria were becoming resistant to the new antibiotic penicillin. By that time the politicians were starting to come to
terms with pollution in the water and solid waste disposal problems and the damage it could do to human health and the
environment. Antibiotic resistance became evident in the late 1940s but medical science did not make its way into
waste industry science. When EPA final found genetic DNA was being transferred between bacteria in sewage
treatment plants and new antibiotic resistant bacteria being created in 1982, EPA's own research was not included in
the EPA data base.
By 1950 there were 19 municipalities with heat drying sludge facilities turning out toxic sludge fertilizer. Western states
were using sewage effluent containing infectious etiologic agents to irrigate crops. Cities like Chicago was selling dried
sludge at $15 dollars a ton even though it cost the City $60 dollars a ton to "manufacture" it. By 1978, according EPA's
William Sanjour, "Thousands of Chicago-area back yards have been contaminated in a program that continued for one
year following GAO 's warning to EPA."
As late as 1983 pathogenic etiologic agents were not considered to be a problems for cattle grazing where virus
indicators survived for 19 weeks, Salmonella survived 70 weeks and Fecal coliform (E. Coli-Klebsiella) survived for 73
weeks. No one considered the danger then, or now, because the time honored practice of using human waste on crops
had been going on for thousands of years. Scientists had not quite figured out that the local communities become
immune to their local infectious etiologic agents. CDC refers to the phenomenon as "Travelers' diarrhea" which affects
about 10 million international travelers a year.
Not only that but scientists considered the deadly heavy metals were simply "rare earths" -- lead in paint and gasoline
was great and safe -- mercury was a good antiseptic or preservative in eye drops, eye ointments, nasal sprays, and
vaccines. We knew little about the chemicals we created that could kill us -- DDT protected us -- PCBs was perfect for
cooling electrical transformers -- Carbon Tetrachloride was great for fire protection and as a cleaning solvent -- Vinyl
Chloride was the coming thing. No one considered waste chemicals buried in the ground might destroy a town as it did
at Love Canal, NY or that using waste oil containing PCBs as a dust suppressant might destroy Times Beach, MO.
Scientists were just starting to learn about infectious etiologic agents (i.e., viable microorganism or its toxin which
causes, or may cause, human disease and include bacteria, bacterial toxins, viruses, fungi, rickettsiae, protozoans, and
parasites) in food and water.
Contaminated towns and communities are a common fact of life. Chemical companies, pesticide companies and mining
companies have historically been the main source of hazardous substances that destroy the towns and communities
with little or no liability. Now, they have been joined by Land Grant Universities and colleges who promote the practices
The Ticking Time Bomb -- Viable but Unculturable Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and genetic engineering.
The latter half of the 20th century was a time of exploration in many scientific fields, especially genetic engineering.
However, the waste industry did not consider infectious bacteria survival to be a problem on agricultural land for animals
of any type. In a 1961 study the Public Health Service found that when bacteria were dehydrated they could no longer
be cultured by standard laboratory methods. However, further research proved that the bacteria could be rehydrated
and the original numbers could be cultured. It would be another 20 years before Rita Colwell's laboratory studying
marine water and sediment put a name on the phenomenon, viable, but nonculturable bacteria.
USDA's John Walker originally reported this phenomenon to EPA in 1973, as heat generated in limed sludge caused
Salmonella to disappear for about 30 days. It would take another 7 years before Charles F. Russ AND William A. Yanko
of the Los Angeles County Sanitation Department studying sludge compost discover that heat from the composting
process dehydrated Salmonella making it nonculturable, but which could be rehydrated to become viable after being in
a desiccated state for over a year. Sludge scientists continue to refer to this phenomenon as regrowth rather than
recovering from a viable but nonculturable state.
The early focus on genetic engineering of bacteria and viruses that would eventually be disposed of on agricultural land
was in a hit and miss way with few if any safety procedures. As the science developed, antibiotic resistant genes were
inserted in the bacteria as markers to confirm gene transfer had taken place. The first patent application to create
recombinant bacteria that could not exist in nature was applied for in 1974 by Stanley Cohen of Stanford University and
Herbert Boyer of the University of California. They describe the process as: "The ability of genes derived from totally
different biological classes to replicate and be expressed in a particular microorganism permits the attainment of
interspecies genetic recombination. Thus, it becomes practical to introduce into a particular microorganism, genes
specifying such metabolic or synthetic functions as nitrogen fixation, photosynthesis, antibiotic production, hormone
synthesis, protein synthesis, e.g. enzymes or antibodies, or the like--functions which are indigenous to other classes of
organisms--by linking the foreign genes to a particular plasmid or viral replicon." The patent was issued to Stanford
University in 1980.
The patent invention to create "chimera" bacteria was supported by grants from National Institute of Health, National
Science Foundation and the American Cancer Society. According to Boyer, recombinant science became such a
concern the federal government became involved and stopped the experiments. However, the Naval Bioscience
Laboratory was also on the University of California Oakland Campus and very involved in bacterial and viral research,
for a good purpose of course, as the biological weapons program had been shut down by President Nixon in 1969.
Nonetheless, the Bioscience Cell Culture Laboratory furnished the stock cultures for Nixon's 1971 "war on Cancer". This
was also the location of the first documented case of E. coli 0157:H7 infection in an unidentified Naval Officer. E. coli
0157:H7 is unique for 4 reasons: 1) the gene to ferment lactose was removed which makes it invisible to the colifrom
and fecal coliform test; 2) a very unique Central American strain of shigella toxin gene (documented in a California
outbreak) was inserted in the bacteria; 3) the scientists inserted antibiotic marker genes to verify gene transfer; and 4)
chimera E. coli 0157:H7 actually become more deadly when exposed to antibiotics. As Boyer also notes, all the early
experiments were dumped down the sewer because they did not think they could exist in nature. The first E. coli 0157:
H7 outbreak was documented in a fastfood chain with roots in California in 1982. The first wild boar documented to be
infected with the chimera was found in California's Salinas Valley in 2006 where sewage effluent was used to irrigate
spinach which produced an outbreak that cost the food industry over 100 million dollars.
Creating chimera foods is the current growth industry. The down side is that no scientist know what the outcome will be.
Genetic engineers attach a gene for resistance to antibiotics to the desired gene, such as a creating a pesticide, in new
strains of foodchain crops. In theory the pesticide produced by the plant will kill pest without affecting humans or
animals. This raises concern about new sources of antibiotic resistance in the environment such as: 1) producing
residues that would cause environmental or health problems; 2) creating toxic or allergenic reactions and 3) creating
new plant, animal or human diseases as well as creating chronic inflammation in the body. While chronic inflammation
sounds rather benign, it is involved in such diseases gastritis, cardiovascular Diseases (hearth attacks and strokes),
asthma, arthritis, reflux to name a few.
A New Era Controlled by the Waste Industry Needs
EPA opened its doors for business on December 2, 1970. "EPA's [claimed] mission is to protect human health and to
safeguard the natural environment—air, water, and land—upon which life depends." "The President's [Nixon] charge to
the first EPA Administrator was to treat "air pollution, water pollution and solid wastes as different forms of a single
problem." The main purpose of the reorganization that gave birth to EPA was to introduce a "broad systems approach
[that]...would give unique direction to our war on pollution." However, the broad systems approach was doomed by
Congress when it failed to use standard terms in the Environmental laws for toxic chemicals and heavy metals such as
arsenic, cadmium, chromium and lead. Each law uses a different term for the same toxic chemicals and heavy metals
which, depending on the law, affect either humans or organisms. The implication being that humans are not a class of
The first EPA Administrator, William D. Ruckelshaus, (December 1970 to April 1973) said that he and EPA were starting
with "no obligation to promote commerce or agriculture." and a "imperative" need for unbiased state pollution control
boards." Congress enacted the Clean Air Act (CAA) in 1970 to control air pollution. The Federal Water Pollution Control
Act was updated in 1972 and renamed the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) followed in
1974, the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976 (TSCA), and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in
1976. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) followed in 1980. The
RCRA was updated in the 1984 Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA). The CERCLA was updated in 1986
to become known as the Superfund Amendments and the later updated as Superfund Amendments Reauthorization Act
According to a 2003 EPA document, "EPA is called a regulatory agency because Congress authorizes EPA to write
regulations that explain the critical technical, operational, and legal details. For example, the Resource Conservation
and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires EPA to write standards for managing hazardous waste. Its central mandate requires
EPA to develop standards to “protect human health and the environment” but does not say precisely what those
standards should be. As in many other laws, Congress entrusts EPA to develop most of the details for regulations
based on our technical and policy expertise." http://thewatchers.us/EPA/7/2003-EPA-regulations.pdf
Congress was very specific as to the nature of a hazardous waste in the RCRA and, by implication, is the only law
concerned with the specific potential hazards to human health:
(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.
The technical and policy expertise has been used over the years to put the public health at risk by promoting the use or
recycling hazardous waste as a fertilizer. The theory is by using or recycling hazardous waste it is no longer a waste
and no longer hazardous. As an example, the infectious characteristics of a waste such as sewage sludge makes it a
RCRA hazardous waste. However, 39 years after EPA was created the hazardous waste regulations still do not address
the required list of infectious pathogenic etiologic agents, nor does it offer any treatment processes for infectious waste.
All pollution ends up in water. What pollution that doesn't go directly into water from air and water pollution control
facilities, is dumped on land as solid or liquid waste, much of which has hazardous characteristics that may damage the
environment or human health. There is an exclusion in most environmental laws which are used to allow the continued
contamination of our air, food and water supplies with hazardous substances which is destroying public health..
There was a major loophole left in the CWA. While sewage and sewage sludge are defined pollutants, and the sewage
treatment plant is a point source of pollution, when sewage sludge is transferred to agricultural land it is considered to
be a fertilizer. Pollutants and toxic pollutants (i.e., organic and inorganic chemicals as well as pathogenic
mircroorganisms) contaminated stormwater runoff from agricultural land was excluded from the law. There was a good
reason, municipal owned agricultural land (sewage farms) have been used for the treatment of sewage and sewage
sludge since the late 19th century in the United States. The soil was used to purify the sewage by filtering out the solids,
before the water entered the aquifer, and the solids were considered to be a crop fertilizer. Today, we call the land
treatment of sewage biosolids fertilizer and reclaimed water beneficial use because it is used to irrigate crops and
recharge aquifers. Nothing has changed in the last hundred years except we now know this is a dangerous practice and
a few simple name changes have been dreamed up to place the liability on private farm owners.
RCRA defined sludge to mean any solid, semisolid or liquid waste generated from a municipal, commercial, or
industrial wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and a solid waste
means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control
facility "but does not include solid or dissolved material in domestic sewage" between a residence and the sewage
treatment plant, even if hazardous chemicals were a part of the mixture, as the untreated waste would be regulated
under the CWA. However, sewage sludge is a solid waste under RCRA which must be disposed of in a sanitary landfill.
If sludge is contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms, which it is, the infectious characteristics associated with the
pathogenic microorganisms makes it a hazardous waste. RCRA was interpreted to mean that a hazardous waste or
solid waste was only a waste if it could not be recycled on agricultural land as a fertilizer and must to be disposed of or
thrown a way.
The Hazardous Constituents list in Appendix VIII includes substances that meet the following criteria:
1. Inclusion in the Clean Water Act list of priority pollutants
2. Chemicals considered hazardous to transport by the Department of Transportation
3. Chemicals identified as carcinogens by the U.S. EPA's Carcinogen Assessment Group
4. Chemicals with high acute toxicity, as identified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's
Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances list.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The
Agency is responsible for tracking hazardous substances at Superfund sites, under the CERCLA, that may harm human
health and the diseases they cause as the name suggests. However, Etiologic agents that cause disease are
addressed by the sister agency, CDC. In recent 2009 Congressional Hearings, it was found, "ATSDR often seeks ways
to avoid linking local health problems to specific sources of hazardous chemicals. Instead, says one current ATSDR
scientist who spoke to the Committee on the condition of anonymity: “It seems like the goal is to disprove the
communities’ concerns rather than actually trying to prove exposures.”" One more loophole, or exclusion, was needed
for EPA's sludge use policy on fruits and vegetables to work. That exclusion was included in the CERCLA for controlling
and cleaning up Superfund sites. The law does not cover "the normal application of fertilizer at a Superfunds site."
The environmental laws were interpreted by Agency lawyers to create administrative law in the form of regulations,
which became accepted as real law. The problem was the Agency was given the authority to determine the allowed
levels of pollution and what parts of the laws would be enforced or ignored. Two major examples were give in the 2002
EPA OIG Status Report Land Application of Biosolids: Despite a declared mission to protect public health and the
environment, "EPA officials said investigating health impacts from biosolids is not an EPA responsibility; rather, they
believe it is the responsibility of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the Centers for Disease
Control, and local health departments." Furthermore, "Compliance and Enforce has disinvested from the program."
This creates a very confused justice system which places public health at risk. Not only that but when a regulated entity
stakeholder wanted to remove a troublesome part of a regulation, it was simple to sue the Agency and win, when the
Agency did not or would not defend its position. Losing in court was very useful as will be outlined later.
According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), none of those laws or regulations were really meant to
place a burden on the regulated community. OMB's History of Major Regulatory Programs states that, "The Nixon
Administration established in 1971 a little known review group in the White House called the "Quality of Life Review"
program. The program focused solely on environmental regulations to minimize burdens on business. These reviews
did not utilize analysis of the benefits and costs to society." President Carter institutionalized the "benefit-cost analysis"
and President Reagan created the "regulatory relief' rather than "regulatory reform" program in 1980.
As of January 2009, EPA still has that mentality, "As we have noted previously, states are the lead Agencies for
implementing the non-hazardous waste programs and, as such, we want to make sure that state programs are not
adversely affected by any decisions that are made by EPA."
During the 70s and early 80s American scientists belatedly figured out antibiotic resistant bacteria were entering
treatment plants. As antibiotic resistant genes were being transferred from dead bacteria to other bacterial species in
sewage treatment plants and drinking water treatment plants, a higher percentage of antibiotic resistant bacteria was
leaving the treatment plants than entered them.
What is most disturbing is some EPA studies can not be found in its own data base. As an example,
In a 1982 study on sewage UV light disinfection, EPA's own Mark Meckes wrote, "It is evident from this work as well as
the work of others that antibiotic resistant coliforms are entering the aquatic environment via treated municipal
wastewater effluence. When bacteria which carry transmissible R-factors (R+ bacteria) (R=resistance) are ingested by a
human host, the R-factors may transfer into commonly occurring bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract." Furthermore,
"Several researchers have pointed out that waste water, treated or untreated, is a primary contributor of bacteria to the
aquatic ecosystem. Studies have been conducted which demonstrate that significant numbers of mutli-drug-resistant
coliforms occur in rivers, bays, bathing beaches and coastal canals. Waters contaminated by bacteria capable of
transferring drug resistance are of great concern since there is the potential for transfer of antibiotic resistance to a
pathogenic species. Available information documents that conventional wastewater purification methods without
disinfection are not adequate for removal of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Wastewater disinfection is, therefore, the only
means whereby communities can limit the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the water environment since it
seems unlikely that antibiotic chemotherapy will be reduced."
However, it is not quite that simple. It was found in the late 70s that over 90 percent of coliform bacteria in raw sewage
is E. coli. However, in passing through the treatment plant, E. coli only makes up about a third to a fourth of the
remaining gram negative lactose fermenting bacteria enumerated in the coliform test.. The other 3/4 is 25 percent
Klebseilla and 50 percent Enterobacter - Citrobacter. Furthermore, it was found that these bacteria would actually grow
in disinfected wastewater with doses as high as 11 parts per million (ppm) of chlorine. The maximum contaminate level
for chlorine drinking water is 4 ppm. There is no accounting made for other Aerobic and Facultative nonfermenting
gram negative bacteria, gram positive bacteria, spore forming bacteria or viruses in water, sewage or sludge that
require much higher levels of disinfection to inactivate.
By the end of the 70s, researchers discovered the coliform and fecal coliform test's incubation temperatures determined
the level of bacteria population estimate. Using incubation temperatures; 35 °, 41.5 °, 43 °, 44.5 °, and 35°C for 4
hours followed by 18 hours at 44.5°C population estimates ranged from 100% down to 5% of the potential population
with the highest temperature in the fecal coliform test yielding the lowest percentage of bacteria. The higher
temperature of the fecal coliform test inhibited the growth of E. coli (The fecal coliform) and suppressed the growth of
Klebseilla, Enterobacter, and Citrobacter (coliform).
In the 1973 Proceedings of the Joint Conference on Recycling Municipal Sludges and Effluent On Land, It was
acknowledge there was an unknown quality about the uses of sludge than most people were comfortable with at the
time. In the presentation "THE PROPERTIES OF SLUDGE" by EPA (Dean & Smith) stated that primary sludge contained
"disease-causing" organisms that may remain viable in sludge. It was noted that sludge treated with chlorine produces
hydrochloric acid and chlorinated compounds. The presentation claimed using lime to raise the pH of sludge to 11-12
killed bacteria and viruses. However, it was noted limed sludge may putresce as "bacterial action at the edges
produces CO2 and the pH drops." It was further noted that heat drying sludge for fertilizer use was cheaper than
incineration. However, there was a caveat, bacterial activity would cause the heat dried sludge to putrefy when it got
wet. In the question and answer section, USDA's John Walker questioned if raising pH with lime would really kill
bacteria? USDA research showed that Salmonella was inactivated with high pH, but in about 30 days after application
the original levels of Salmonella were found.
Two years after Congress enacted major cradle to the grave legislation (RCRA) to protect the American public from
hazardous substances (pollutants), Internal politics raised its ugly head at EPA, sludge regulators went to war over
sludge in 1978 and the public completely lost the law's protection. Sewage sludge disposal had become a major
concern for EPA's Office of Water because sludge was considered an infectious hazardous solid waste under RCRA
contaminated with toxic pollutants (CWA) and hazardous substance/constituents (RCRA) including toxic heavy metals.
Apparently, Walker transferred from USDA to EPA Office of Water to run the sludge program sometimes prior to 1978
and the sludge war between the Office of Solid Waste (OSW) and the Office of Water (OW) broke out. Some 70 billion
dollars was given out in the 70s by the OW as Clean Water Act grants to build sewage treatment plants. As a result,
millions of tons of hazardous chemical and pathogen contaminated sludge was created. Neither, the OSW or the OW
wanted Congress to include sludge as a solid waste under RCRA as Congress had given OW authority in 1972 to
regulate sludge under the CWA. However, Congress never intended for the Clean Water Act to be the primary
enforcement tool for the regulation of sludge: "(1) Purpose - This section was not intended to be [the] primary source of
regulation of sludge but was intended as [a] cautionary measure to provide additional protection against dangers to
navigable waters caused by disposal methods unregulated by section 1311 of this title, i.e. careless land disposal and
deep ocean dumping of sludge from vessels. ---" (Title 33, part 1345, note 1)
William Sanjour, Branch Chief , Hazardous Waste Management Division, forecast the future in a memo to his bosses.
Since many municipal sludges would meet any reasonable definition of aFirst Steps in Taking Sewage Sludge Outside the Law
hazardous waste, I wrote a memo(3) warning of the implications of including
municipal sewage sludge in the definition of solid waste in any of the proposed
bills that were being discussed. In light of the Construction Grant Juggernaut,
we did not want to be involved in that can of worms. In that memo I concluded:
What will happen, then, if Congress gives EPA regulatory authority over hazardous
wastes? Will we have one policy for hazardous wastes which go through municipal
treatment plants and a different policy if it goes through an industrial treatment
plant? if so, we will end up in court looking like fools. Will we fail to adequately
regulate industrial wastes for fear of compromising EPA's policy on municipal sludge?
If so, we will be brought into court for failure to perform our duty.
Highly contaminated back-yard soils have now been found In Chicago, where sludge was
used as a mulch. Thousands of Chicago-area back yards have been contaminated in a
program that continued for one year following GAO 's warning to EPA. Many similar
programs are still ongoing nationwide--without restriction
Clearly there is a confrontation ahead, which can only be avoided by not getting
regulatory authority or by changing EPA sewage sludge policy. Nevertheless, when
RCRA became law in October of 1976, municipal sewage sludge was included in
the definition of solid waste and my worst fears came true. As we shall see, the
result of this inclusion was not to strengthen the laws concerning the safe use of
municipal sludge but rather to weaken the regulation of hazardous
I should think that in regulating pollution which its own regulations and funds created,
EPA would apply at least the same standards as it does to pollution created by
industry. If EPA takes advantage of its position to write lesser standards for its own
pollution it will surrender the moral leadership it now commands.
By September, everyone involved recognized the futility of resisting the sludge
juggernaut -- everyone but me, that is. I was finally instructed by Gary Dietrich,
Jorling's hatchet man, to weaken the standards for land farming hazardous industrial
waste to the comfort level of the Water Office, regardless of the consequences to
human health(14) And the consequences of this cruel decision were indeed far
ranging and severe as not only sewage sludge but raw industrial hazardous waste is
"recycled" into fertilizer to this day(15). Eight days after this decision I was canned(16).
Different people handled the defeat in different ways. I became a whistleblower(17).
My ex-boss, Jack Lehman, consoled himself with the knowledge that there was a
potential medical treatment for the people we were poisoning(18). And Bob Tonetti
wrote the definitive letter to the Washington Post(19).
It was John Walker's position that hazardous sludge could not be regulated under the CWA with restrictions equal to
those in RCRA. In a September 12, 1978 memo Walker wrote,
"Bruce Weddle''s position (stated in the attached August 28 memo) Is that
standards promulgated for sludge disposal under 405(e) will provide
equivalent levels of environmental protection to those being developed
under RCRA. If management of wastes under Subtitle C and sludge
management under 405/4004 must be entirely equivalent and
consistent, then we cannot live with 3004—250.55-5 Land Farms,
pp. 103-111 and 250.56-2 Soil Conditioning Products. These
subsections of 3004 would essentially preclude the utilization
of sludge as a method of disposal."
The goal of 405/4004 sludge regulations should be to promote low-cost sludge
management with emphasis on minimizing risks, consumption of energy and
resources and maximizing recycling and reuse benefits, the application of some
low levels of toxic substances to land for food crop production should not be
prohibited; rather, it should be controlled by proper rates of sludge/toxic
application, soil management, etc. The potential risks of permitting some low
levels of most potentially toxic metals and persistent organics to land just have
not been demonstrated as being that great.
In 1979, EPA issued Part 257, Criteria for classification of solid waste disposal facilities and practices -- and -- 257.3.5
Application to land used for the production of food-chain crops. Sludge Land Farms were restricted to extremely low
levels of Cadmium, PCBs and pathogen reduction was a minor concern. The states, not EPA, were responsible for
preventing "Open dumps" caused by improper disposal of solid waste.
EPA redefined the RCRA definition of sewage sludge, sludge and solid waste to allow sludge use as a fertilizer implying
that municipal sewage treatment did not create sewage sludge.
such waste having similar characteristics and effect.
- Sewage sludge means solid, semi-solid, or liquid residue generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a
- Sludge means any solid, semisolid, or liquid waste generated from a municipal, commercial, or industrial
wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility or any other
plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material
- Solid waste means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment
In 1980, the hazardous waste regulation Part 261 only addressed four basic characteristics: ignitability, corrosivity,
reactivity, or toxicity. EPA defines toxicity as "Toxic wastes are harmful or fatal when ingested or absorbed (e.g.,
containing mercury, lead, etc.). When toxic wastes are land disposed, contaminated liquid may leach from the waste
and pollute ground water." The hazardous waste level is defined by a test (Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure -
TCLP) designed to simulate the acid leaching of toxic waste will undergo (approx. 5% of the total toxic substance) if
disposed of in a mismanaged sanitary landfill. It was expected that this would create a plume containing the toxic
substance above the Maximum Contaminate Level (MCL) allowed in drinking water. The test has nothing to do with the
damage the toxic substances can do to human and animal health at the elevated level of the test itself.
As with the RCRA, the Part 261 regulation specifically excludes "Domestic sewage and Any mixture of domestic sewage
and other wastes that passes through a sewer system to a publicly-owned treatment works for treatment" [as a solid
waste -- and by implication sewage sludge] “Domestic sewage” means untreated sanitary wastes that pass through a
sewer system." However, there was different set of rules for industrial wastewater, as it does not exclude sludges that
are generated by industrial wastewater treatment. A space is still "Reserved for Etiologic Agents" and for Infectious
Waste Treatment Specifications.
Arming The Ticking Time Bomb With A Policy
In 1980 EPA issued a policy statement on sludge: Acceptable Methods, Based on Current Knowledge, for the Utilization
or Disposal of Sludge From Publicly Owned Wastewater Treatment Plants. However, EPA established that after
reviewing sludge from 180 treatment plants 50 percent of the sludge would not qualify for land application, including
Milwaukee's Milorganite and Chicago sludge.
To accomplish the goal of the policy, EPA stated, "- to avoid conceivable stigmatization, we are willing to re-name
recycled hazardous wastes "regulated recyclable materials." That wasn't good enough for farmers and in 1983, the
"regulated recyclable materials" title was shortened to "recyclable material"." Not only that, but in 1985 the title was
applied to all hazardous waste. EPA said, "---commercial hazardous waste derived fertilizers would not have to undergo
chemical bonding to be exempt." from the law. FR 45, No. 98, Monday, May 19, 1980, p. 33207, FR 48, No. 65,
Monday April 4, 1983, p. 14485, FR 50, No. 3, Friday January 4, 1985 p. 646
In 1981, EPA, FDA and USDA signed the federal policy: Land Application of Municipal Sewage Sludge For The
Production of Fruits and Vegetables -- A Statement of Federal Policy and Guidance. The responsibilities of each
Agency was spelled out, EPA was responsible for maintaining the integrity of our environment, FDA was responsibility
for maintaining the integrity of our food products, and USDA was responsible for maintaining the integrity of our
agricultural production. All three agree that heavy metals, toxic organic compounds, and pathogenic microorganisms
are a great concern. EPA, FDA and USDA states that the safety of food grown on sludge is assures as long as the
guidance is followed. There is a caveat, the "government can not offer any indemnity against product recall, seizure, or
other enforcement actions, -- However, the risk of such enforcement actions would be no greater than the risks
associated with normal farming and processing practice." The basic guidance was in the 1979 solid waste regulation
Part 257. The policy "recognizes that pathogen survival is greater in warm, moist environments, than in extremely arid
or colder environments."
EPA's 1981, Project Officer, Robert K. Bastian, explained the move away from regulated sites in, Institutional
Constraints and Public Acceptance Barriers to Utilization of Municipal Wastewater and Sludge for Land Reclamation and
Biomass Production. He said, "traditional environmental organizations, such as the National Wildlife Federation, National
Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Audubon Society have typically not mobilized their membership against
such projects" -- such as reclaiming mining sites with sludge. However, projects that include public involvement and/or
state requirements are a different matter.. He Said, "Each of these measures has effectively made the disposal of
sludge more complex and more costly, and in part has contributed to a shifting of the focus away from disposal methods
that are regulated to methods that remain unregulated, or regulated less severely."
EPA Ignores Evidence of the Time Bomb
The 1981 World Health Organization bulletin (WHO # 54) explained why the government could not offer indemnity.
"Quantitative evidence has demonstrated high levels of Salmonellae in sludge and their survival for many weeks in
sludge, on grassland, and in stored grass. The seasonal incidence from 1969 to 1978 of Salmonella isolations from
cattle (26646 sample) has been related to the times of year at which sludge was applied, and evidence from studies of
carrier rates and serotypes in cattle grazed on sludge-treated pastures has indicated a positive association and a cycle
of infection existing (man-sludge-animals-man). It has not been possible to control this cycle by improvements in meat
inspection at slaughterhouses. Accordingly, the Swiss authorities have decided that sludge must be hygenized before
using on land, The most suitable process is pasteurization prior to anaerobic digestion and in January 1981 there were
three plants in operation."
The 1981 Los Angeles County Sanitation District study for EPA, Factors Affecting Salmonellae Repopulation in
Composted Sludges also pointed out "The repopulation potential and recovery of Salmonella sp. and their close
relatives Arizona spp. and Citrobacter spp. in sewage sludge which had been composted. Salmonellae growth in
previously composted sludge was found to occur in the mesophilic temperature range (20 to 40degC), require a
moisture content of -20%, and require a carbon/nitrogen ratio in excess of 15:1.
These results also indicated that some enteric bacteria, upon desiccation, became dormant [viable, but
nonculturable] and in this state were highly resistant to both heat and radiation.
Optimal recoveries in the low bacteria sample occurred at the 21% moisture level at 28 to 36degC after a 5-day
incubation. The population increased more than four orders of magnitude under these conditions.
The indigenous salmonellae initiating this growth had survived in a desiccated state for over 1 year prior
to providing the proper moisture-temperature combination for the repopulation to occur. ---
as long as a demonstrated potential exists for repopulation of salmonellae in a commercial soil
amendment product produced from composted sludge, a potential health hazard exists for the user."
APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, Mar. 1981, p. 597-602
Two 1983 EPA studies illustrated the need for unregulated or less regulated disposal sites. In the study, Effects on
Cattle from Exposure to Sewage Sludge, it was found the Virus indicators survived 19 weeks, Salmonella survived 70
weeks and Fecal coliform (E. Coli-Klebsiella) 73 weeks. Sludge desiccation was the main factor in suppressing bacterial
growth. As Los Angles found in 1981, with proper moisture these bacteria were resurrected from death.
The most critical problem for EPA was that landfills were not protective of public health and the environment. A second
1983 EPA study, A Critical Review of Wastewater Treatment Plant Sludge Disposal by Landfilling, found "Sludge
landfilling (with or without the addition of municipal refuse) presents many environmental and public health risks and
managerial options. Environmental and public health risks include leachate contamination of water and soil resources,
destruction of native fauna and flora, obnoxious odors, aerosol and dust generation, pathogen transmission, and other
related nuisances.-- The risk of transmitting disease is of major concern for the various sludge disposal practices. The
direct pathways for disease transmission from sludge landfilling landfill operations include aerosols, vector transport,
direct contact, groundwater and surface runoff."
In 1984 EPA published another study that showed the danger to compost workers. The study Evaluation of Health Risks
Associated with Wastewater Treatment and Sewage Composting found an excess of abnormal skin, nose and ear
conditions, -- lab reports suggestive of low grade inflammatory response. Former workers at the Metropolitan Sewage
District in Chicago had excessive leukemia and esophagus deaths.
In the EPA history of 1985, "A. James Barnes, then a Special Assistant to Administrator Ruckelshaus and now EPA's
Deputy Administrator, commented recently that "we were not as true as we should have been to this notion of dealing
with environmental problems as a whole." By the end of Ruckelshus' second tour at the Agency (1983-85), the tone had
changed according to Jack Lewis [EPA Journal - November 1985], "Ruckelshaus himself refuses to idealize the early
1970s. In fact, he blames the idealism of the Year of the Environment for many of EPA's subsequent problems: "We
thought we had technologies that could control pollutants, keeping them below threshold levels at a reasonable cost,
and that the only things missing in the equation were national standards and a strong enforcement effort. All of the
nation's early environmental laws reflected these assumptions, and every one of these assumptions is wrong...The
errors in our assumptions were not readily apparent in EPA's early days because the agency was tackling pollution in its
most blatant form. The worst problems and the most direct ways to deal with them were apparent to everyone." "It was
dramatic to be here then, but the agency wasn't as productive in terms of substance or achievement as EPA is in 1985.
EPA has developed into the most competent agency in the federal government, and morale is still very high among our
extremely talented and dedicated staff. Today is the Golden Age."
The golden age was not so good for farmers and the public as EPA was opening the final door for municipalities and
corporations to transfer liability for hazardous waste disposal to farmers and home owners with a complete disregard for
their health or anyone else.
By 1988, when the Los Angeles County Sanitation District did another study for EPA, "Occurrence of Pathogens in
Distribution and Marketing Municipal Sludges, William A. Yanko, seems to have forgotten about his 1981 study
showing bacteria recovery from the desiccated state and talked about regrowth rather than recovery. However, he
made 3 major points: 1) "Although the use of sludge as a soil amendment is attractive, it is not without potential health
risks. Toxic chemicals, including heavy metals and industrial organics, may enter the food chain and present long-term
health risks."; 2) The plague causing bacteria Yersinia was consistently found in static pile compost. CDC authorities
state, "Outbreaks in people still occur in rural communities or in cities."; and 3) "significant increases in bacterial
populations, including salmonellae, occurred during subsequent production of commercial soil amendment products."
A short abstract of the study was sent out to the 12 national repository libraries.
The government is not exempt from the laws,
Each department, agency, and instrumentality of the executive, legislative,926 Government Instrumentality
and judicial branches of the Federal Government (1) having jurisdiction
over any solid waste management facility or disposal site, or (2) engaged
in any activity resulting, or which may result, in the disposal or management
of solid waste or hazardous waste shall be subject to, and comply with, all
Federal, State, interstate, and local requirements, both substantive and
procedural (including any requirement for permits or reporting or any
provisions for injunctive relief and such sanctions as may be imposed by
a court to enforce such relief), respecting control and abatement of solid
waste or hazardous waste disposal and management in the same manner,
and to the same extent, as any person is subject to such requirements,
including the payment of reasonable service charges.
The fraud of wrongful use of a government instrumentality is characterized by the lack of threatened Government employees have some protection with qualified immunity
or real pecuniary or proprietary loss, or obstruction of governmental activity. An example of such a
scheme might be the use of false United States Internal Revenue Service receipts to defraud private
persons of money. Furthermore, the United States has the right to ensure that funds be
administered in accordance with law and honesty without corrupt influence or bribery.
Thus, a scheme to defraud the United States can range from directly cheating or swindling money or
property from the government to simply using the government in a wrongful fashion with the only
injury being to the pride and integrity of the government. The case law demonstrates, moreover, that
any injury to the integrity of the government is sufficient.
[cited in USAM 9-42.001]
No agent, employee, or officer of the United States shall be personally
liable for any civil penalty under any Federal, State, interstate, or
local solid or hazardous waste law with respect to any act or omission
within the scope of the official duties of the agent, employee, or
officer. An agent, employee, or officer of the United States shall be
subject to any criminal sanction (including, but not limited to, any
fine or imprisonment) under any Federal or State solid or hazardous
waste law, but no department, agency, or instrumentality of the
executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Federal Government
shall be subject to any such sanction.
New Sludge Rules Are an Injury to the Integrity of the Government
Under Court Order, EPA developed the sludge regulations under the CWA. The court found that EPA and/or
municipalities could not issue pollution removal credits to sewage plant users under the Pretreatment Regulation Part
403 without a sludge regulation in place. Basically, this is a free pass to pollute a local environment to a certain level or
in the case of toxic contaminated sludge, even a local environment in another state.
The proposed sludge regulation was released in 1989 for comment. EPA admitted it completely lacked data on most
chemicals or pathogenic microorganisms to determine the safety of sludge. However, it did include a list of 21 cancer
causing agents found in sludge. Five were cancer causing by inhalation. Not only that, but EPA included a list of 25
pathogenic disease (etiologic agents) causing microorganisms found in sludge. It was EPA,s position that only four of
the many bacterial strains found is sludge, specifically E. coli, Salmonela, Campylobacter and Shigella caused a simply
However, there were three other problems as noted in the 1992 paper SLUDGE DISPOSAL: Sanitary Landfill - Open
Dump - Superfund Site : 1) only 28 out of 400 toxic pollutants were proposed for regulation; 2) 15 out of 25 toxic
inorganics on the superfund list were not included; and 3) thirty-three pollutants considered hazardous for land
disposal were not included. No state could afford to issue a permit to put the toxic disease contaminated sludge on food
crops and no retailer would dare sell a product with a label that listed 21 cancer causing agents for use on parks,
school grounds, home lawns and gardens.
EPA's Hugh Kaufman, explained part of the conversion process, which changed sludge from a regulated solid
waste to a fertilizer, at a New Hampshire conference on the "Dangers of Sludge", November 15, 1997, at the
Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H.. In 1989 EPA proposed sludge regulations that were very similar to
the rest of the developed world--Canada, Germany, the European countries. As a result of that proposed
regulation, politicians from all over the country started to pressure EPA--a young senator, Al Gore from
Tennessee, the head of the Environment Protection Agency in New York City--all of them implying and/or
stating directly that they could not land apply their sludge if EPA promulgated the regulations that were similar
to the rest of the developed world.
Commissioner Harvey Schultz of New York City's Department of Environmental Protection, explained it best in a letter to
EPA Administrator William Reilly, dated June 5, 1989, that "compliance with the pollutant standards would be difficult, if
not impossible, to achieve." According to the letter, "no disposal option covered by the proposal would be allowed or
feasible for eighty percent of the City's sludge." In closing, Mr. Schultz urged Mr. Reilly; "Considering the economic and
environmental importance of these regulations, the large volume of potentially beneficial sludge affected, and the cost
and paucity of landfill space, I urge you to devote the necessary resources to revise 503 in accordance with the best
available technical information.""
Separate but Unequal Regulations for the Disposal of Toxic Sewage Sludge.
"EPA's role in the management of industrial nonhazardous Waste [sludge] is very limited. Under RCRA
Subtitle D, EPA issued minimal criteria prohibiting "open dumps" (40 CFR 257) in 1979. The states, not EPA,
are responsible for implementing the "open dumping criteria," and EPA has no back-up enforcement
role." (FR. 62, 19, p. 4284, January 29, 1997)
In 1991, EPA issued the RCRA/CWA regulation 40 CFR 257 et al., Part 1, now simply Part 258—CRITERIA FOR
MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE LANDFILLS -- for municipal solid waste landfills that are used to dispose of sewage sludge.
It included a list of 62 chemicals for detection monitoring as well as a list of 220 Hazardous Inorganic and Organic
Constituents. Under CWA, they are actually referred to as Toxic pollutants in Part 401.15. It states, "The purpose of
this part is to establish minimum national criteria under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA or the
Act), as amended, for all municipal solid waste landfill (MSWLF) units and under the Clean Water Act, as amended, for
municipal solid waste landfills that are used to dispose of sewage sludge. These minimum national criteria ensure the
protection of human health and the environment."
This regulation did not include a separate definition for sewage sludge.
or industrial wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility
- Sludge means any solid, semi-solid, or liquid waste generated from a municipal, commercial,
exclusive of the treated effluent from a wastewater treatment plant.
supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material -- but does not include solid or
- Solid waste means any garbage, or refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water
dissolved materials in domestic sewage, or solid or dissolved materials in irrigation return flows or industrial
discharges that are point sources subject to permit under 33 U.S.C. 1342,
In a May 1992 memo, EPA's Burnell Vincent stated, "The sludge rule discussions with OW are on hold waiting for Ryan
[EPA] and Chancy' s [USDA] rewrite. Meanwhile, with the clock still ticking on the court deadline, OGC is asking ORB to
co-sign an affidavit that resolving our concerns will require more time and that they can be resolved within the
requested three-month extension." "Options facing the Agency if the problems persist in the next edition include boldly
publishing on admittedly weak science, using a factor of safety to compensate for any weakness, or scrapping the
whole exercise, promulgating the Feb 89 proposal as interim." His question was "Are human health and the
environment "pretty safe" with the application rates drafted, or does the Administrator need to hear that major work is
necessary just to be pretty safe? Can we feel ok as long as the uncertainty is fully discussed, both in the preamble and
the guidance documents?"
The land treatment of municipal sewage sludge was removed from the 1979 Part 257 solid waste regulation in 1993.
However, the land treatment of sewage sludge from industrial treatment plants was still regulated as a solid waste. The
soil must be kept at pH 6.5 except when cadmium is at concentrations of 2 mg/kg (dry weight) or less. Annual
application rates can not exceed 0.5 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha) on land used for production of tobacco, leafy
vegetables or root crops grown for human consumption. Concentrations of PCBs equal to or greater than 10 mg/kg (dry
weight) must be incorporated into the soil when applied to land used for producing animal feed, including pasture crops
for animals raised for milk.
40 CFR 257 et al./503), promotes open dumping under perceived loopholes in the law and claims: 1) that sewage
sludge generated from the treatment of domestic sewage, even if there is industrial sewage in it, is exempt from the
Public Laws, 2) part 503 is a self-implementing blanket permit (federal authorization) for the release of hazardous
substances [pollutants] on lawns, gardens and food crop production land, and 3) that if sludge is simply considered a
fertilizer, it is exempt from the liability provisions of Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and
Liability Act (CERCLA), even if a Superfund site is created. (FR. 58, 32, pp. 9326, 9263, February 19, 1993).
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."
Part 503 has no requirement for pH control and cadmium concentrations of 39 mg/kg is allowed in Class a sludge with
annual applications of 1.9 kg/hectare. For most agricultural sludge sites cadmium concentrations of 85 mg/kg is allowed
for food crops, feed crops, and fiber crops which may be harvested 30 days after sludge application (503.32(b)(5)(iv)).
Extremely strange when EPA research documents show bacteria and viruses may survive for a year in soil, while
bacteria may survive on plants for six months and viruses may survive on plants for 2 months. Part 503 implies that
PCBs are allowed in sludge used to grow food crops as long as the PCB level doesn't exceed 50 ppm.
The Devil Is In The Details
The part 503 sludge rule was released under the RCRA/CWA title as 40 CFR 257 et al, Part 2, now simply Part 503
STANDARDS FOR THE USE OR DISPOSAL OF SEWAGE SLUDGE. That is domestic sewage from households mixed
with toxic contaminated industrial waste was taken outside the law -- unless the sludge was incinerated under a 503.42
permit or placed on the land in a part 503.23 permitted sludge only surface disposal landfill (monofill). The most toxic
contaminated sludge is applied to the land under a self-permit for beneficial use as a fertilizer.
The 503 purpose does not include the minimum national criteria requirement to protect public health and the
environment. Nor does it mention being created under RCRA or CWA. According to Part 503, it would APPEAR that part
258 is the only manner of sludge disposal that complies with section 405(d) as stated in part 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 CWA.
According to 1986 court documents, "EPA has consistently interpreted the Section 307(b) requirement that removal
credits not prevent the use or disposal of sludge to mean that whatever use or disposal the POTWs make of their
sludge, they must comply with all applicable federal, state, and local requirements, not just whatever guidelines EPA
may have explicitly promulgated under Section 405(d). See 43 Fed. Reg. 27749 (1978); 40 C.F.R. 403.7(a)(3)(iv).
EPA claims the sludge use and disposal regulation is based on a Congressional mandate in section 4004 to find; "(g)
(5) alternate methods for the use of sludge, including agricultural applications of sludge and energy recovery from
sludge; ---" (PL 89-272 title III #4004 -Pl 94-580) and Section 405 of the CWA. However, EPA has ignored the
Congressional mandate in section 4004 to find; (g)(6) methods to reclaim areas which have been used for disposal of
sludge or which have been damaged by sludge."
EPA's John Walker and Robert Brobst became so involved in attempting to cover sludge damage to dairy farms in
Georgia they stepped across the line and lost their immunity. According to the courts it is illegal to help scientists get
government funds to create fraudulent studies in an effort to prove sludge is a safe fertilizer.
To fool land owners, EPA had to redefine RCRA municipal waste treatment plant sludge and falsely state there is no
industrial waste in Part 503.9 sewage sludge .
or otherwise enters a treatment works
- Person who prepares sewage sludge is either the person who generates sewage sludge during the treatment of
domestic sewage in a treatment works or the person who derives a material from sewage sludge.
- Domestic sewage is waste and wastewater from humans or household operations that is discharged to
- "Sewage sludge is solid, semi-solid, or liquid residue generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a
treatment works. Sewage sludge includes, but is not limited to, domestic septage; scum or solids removed in
primary, secondary, or advanced wastewater treatment processes; and a material derived from sewage sludge."
To make that work, EPA had to redefine treatment works to include industrial waste of a liquid nature entering municipal
wastewater plants rather than a treatment works that just treated domestic sewage..
- 503.9(aa) Treatment works is either a federally owned, publicly owned, or privately owned device or system used
to treat (including recycle and reclaim) either domestic sewage or a combination of domestic sewage and
industrial waste of a liquid nature.
According to EPA, "This is a key definition, because the standards in the part 503 regulation apply to sewage sludge
generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment works. When domestic sewage is in the influent to a
treatment works, even if the influent also contains industrial wastewater, sewage sludge is generated during the
treatment of the domestic sewage." (FR. 58, p. 9326)
EPA claims sludge is neither toxic or hazardous if it is being recycled for beneficial use. However, according to EPA,
Part 503 is a federal self-permitting regulation with the implicit authorization for the possible creation of a superfund site
without any potential liability. EPA states, "If the placement of sludge on land were considered to be "the normal
application of fertilizer," that placement could not give rise to liability under CERCLA." (Comprehensive Environmental
Response and Liability Act) --- "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.)
Under the CERCLA, the term “hazardous substance” means:
(A) any substance designated pursuant to section 311(b)(2)(A) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act [33 U.S.C.
(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] (but not including any waste the regulation of which under the Solid Waste
Disposal Act [42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.] has been suspended by Act of Congress),
(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].
While Part 503 purports to be a CWA regulation, EPA chose to add more confusion by redefining several terms
including: humans, hazardous substances, chemicals, etiologic agents, infectious disease causing microorganisms,
toxic pollutant, and pollutant in the sludge rule definition of a pollutant. Under "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 [living entity as
opposed to microorganisms] or offspring of the organisms."
To accomplish the protection from the hazardous substances in sludge disposed of as a fertilizer offered by a permit,
EPA released the Part 503 as a self-permitting regulation. In the seven states authorized to administer federal
authorized sludge disposal permits (Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin) the permits offer
a safe harbor for dumpers from environmental law requirements concerning the dumping of hazardous substances.
Some states not authorized to issue federal permits issue state permits to offer an implied safe harbor to sludge
dumpers. However, there is no safety net offered to the land owner who has been assured sludge (biosolids) is a safe
The ultimate insult to Congress and the American public, especial land owners, was given in a letter to Congressman
Conduit, dated October 1, 1993, by Martha G. Prothro, (EPA) Acting Assistant Administrator. In spite of the federal laws
which classify sludge as a solid waste that must be safely disposed of in a sanitary landfill, 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."
Under part 503, EPA offers the municipality an option to either violate the federal prohibition against open dumping of
solid waste or comply with the law: "When the 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 being disposed of on the land. In that
case, the requirements in the subpart on surface disposal in the final part 503 regulation must be met." (FR. 58, p.
The Surface Disposal requirements in Part 503 does offer minimum requirements to protect human health and the
environments which is not offered to farmers in the Beneficial Use Section. EPA warns that "Sewage sludge with high
concentrations of certain organic and metal pollutants may pose human health problems when disposed of in sludge
only landfills [503.23] (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)
As an example, Chromium is a listed toxic/hazardous substance/constituent and example of why EPA needed to protect
sludge dumpers from any liability associated with sludge dumping under the environmental laws.
Part 261.24 Chromium toxicity is legally designated hazardous at a level of 5 ppm/L (L=1000 gram liquid or dry weight
Part 503.23 Chromium maximum level 0-25 meter from landfill boundary is 200 ppm/kg (kg=1000 grams dry weight)
Part 503.23 Chromium maximum level in a landfill 150 meters from boundary is 600 ppm/kg
Part 503.13 Chromium maximum level for beneficial use when regulation was released 3,000 ppm/kg
Part 503.13 Chromium was removed from beneficial use section -- but retained in 503.23
Part 403 appendix g Chromium removal credit allowed for unregulated beneficial use disposed of on land is
100,000 ppm/kg -- 10,000 ppm may be hexavalent chromium 6.
No land owner would knowingly accept sludge contaminated with CWA labelled toxic pollutants. EPA explains why the
term is not used. "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)
One hundred and eighteen priority pollutants have been ignored for the last 16 years. EPA lists 17 heavy metals as
hazardous substances and 15 heavy metals as priority toxic pollutants. Yet, only eight are included in the current part
503 list of pollutants. The ninth metal in Part 503, Molybdenum, is not on either list.
EPA never planned to protect public health or the environment around sludge sites or homes.. It states "The
assessment does not quantify ecological losses caused by plant or animal toxicity, even though some numerical limits in
today's proposal are based on animal and plant toxicity values. Methodologies and data are not yet available to
accurately estimate the ecologicalimpacts from the use and disposal of sludge." (FR. 54, p.5780)
EPA apparently did not consider that bacterial contaminated animals and crops would have a national impact.
"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)
However, while EPA only requires testing for 9 pollutants it noted, "...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" (FR. 58, 32, p.9258).
1986 there were one to two million cases of food poisoning (Gerba) (EPA Risk Axssessment for landfilling sludge)
1990 there were about 6 million case of food poisoning
1994 there were about 33 million cases of food poisoning 9,000 deaths EPA-USDA- CDC-Report to President -From
Farm to Table (1997)
1996 there were about 80 million case of food poisoning (Ralph J. Touche-Chief Sanitarian -Public Health Service
1997 there we about 81 million case of food poisoning (GAO-report)
1998 CDC estimates 360 million cases of acute diarrhea, Most from unknown source of exposure.(1987 estimate) 9,100
1999 (Mead,et.al) (CDC) estimates there are only about 76 million foodborne cases annually, 325,000 Hospitalized and
CDC still uses these figures = 6.3 million illnesses per month, 27,000 people hospitalized each month, 416 dead each
Death and Infectious Disease Tables including inorganic and organic diseases
EPIDEMICS? PANDEMICS? COINCIDENCE? Parallels sludge biosolids and Reclaimed water use!
The Politics of Risk Assessment and Peer Review
No Stakeholders wanted the 1989 Part 503 released because it would have eliminated most disposal options for sludge.
The stakeholders could not have promoted sludge as a safe fertilizer with 21 listed carcinogenic heavy metals and
chemicals in it much less the 25 families of listed pathogens. A small group of stakeholders set out to change the rules
Some primary players who helped on the Biosolids Risk Assessment which claimed sludge use was safe.
Dr. Terry Logan of OSC, Dr. Andrew Chang of UC, Dr. Al Page of UC, Dr. Jim Ryan of EPA, Dr. John Walker of USDA
and Rufus Chaney of USDA.
Some of the same players controlled the Peer Review Committee
Dr. Terry Logan of OSU -- Co-chair of the Peer Review Committee, Dr. Al Page of UC - Co-chair of the Peer Review
Committee, Dr. James Ryan of EPA, Dr. Robert Bastian of EPA, Dr. John Walker of EPA, and Dr. Rufus Chaney of
The first step in their effort to gut the 1989 proposed regulation was for the Peer Review Committee to attack
the lack of science behind the regulation:
"It is evident from a review of the document that many of the conclusions reached by EPA are not driven by
science, but rather by policy decisions. In view of the inherent uncertainties in risk assessment and the
necessity for value judgements, the prominence of the policy decisions is understandable. However,
instead of acknowledging these policy decisions and justifying them on legal, political and social grounds,
EPA has in many cases, tried to make it appear that the basis for these decisions was scientific. This
problem permeates the proposed rule and technical support documents." "---We wish to emphasize that
EPA has disguised policy decisions with the risk assessment assumptions and database, apparently to
make it appear that the results derived scientifically. Had they wished to do the effort correctly they should
have, at the very least, clearly presented the underlying assumptions, data and models. Instead, these are
scattered through numerous documents in a manner that is very difficult to assess."
An unusual suggestion was to "Expand the proposed rule to include consideration of potential Fe (iron) and F
As noted earlier, Ryan and Chaney got the job of rewriting the Part 503 rule and there was no pretending it was a
scientific document. The first to go was the list of carcinogenic agents and list of pathogens. One prime change is the
restriction on harvesting of food crops. They added food crops to the 503.32(b)(5) Site restrictions for feed and fiber
crops. "(iv) Food crops, feed crops, and fiber crops shall not be harvested for 30 days after application of sewage
sludge." It negated the first restriction "(i) Food crops with harvested parts that touch the sewage sludge/soil mixture
and are totally above the land surface shall not be harvested for 14 months after application of sewage sludge."
1995, A Guide to the Biosolids Risk Assessment for the EPA Part 503 Rule indicate the scientists may have been
misguided by Dr James Ryan, Dr. Rufus Chaney, Dr. John Walker
They said risk assessment did not consider any of the cancer causing hazardous metals in sludge to be cancer causing
agents for the risk assessment. However, EPA has listed (1989) five of the admitted twenty-one carcinogens in sludge
are carcinogenic when inhaled in dust -- Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium IV and Nickel. (FR 54, p. 5777)
Furthermore, because the 13 organics looked at were either banned, no longer manufactured or restricted for use, no
organic chemicals were included in the risk assessment. Yet, the implication is the risk assessment was based on a 1 X
10,000 cancer risk. The major point of course is a risk assessment of 1 X 10,000 means nothing to one family with toxic
sludge on the lawn or a farm family with a few isolated neighbors. Especially, when a farmer is already handling
chemicals that could cause cancer or death.
Before the Part 503 was even release EPA asked the National Science Academy's National Research Council
Committee (NRC) to study the Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in Food Crop Production and reviewed the final
regulation's public health and public perception issues. According to the Preface of the study, the purpose was to
review the methods and procedure used to develop the risk assessment: "The committee was not constituted to
conduct an independent risk assessment of possible health effects, but instead to review the method and procedures
used by EPA in its extensive risk assessment, which was the basis for the Part 503 Sludge Rule."
To make sure the situation was under control and the right answers were given, Dr. Albert Page of UC was appointed
Chair of the Committee. Dr. Andrew Chang of UC was also appointed to the Committee. Both had been members of
the original Risk Assessment team. Dr. Page had also been Co-chair of the Peer Review Committee.
Most people do not read their final statement of warning in the study released in 1996.
- "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."
Private sector forces are hard won lawsuits for cattle deaths such as those won by Ed, Roller of Missouri, Bill Boyce And
Andy McElmurray of Georgia. It has taken a long time to get those cases through the courts and more are on the way.
Other private sector forces include Bill Marler who has won so many cases for clients affected by illness cause by food
grown in California where reclaimed water is used to irrigate crops in the 12,000 acre Salinas Valley. Education is a little
slower, but the Georgia courts have started the process.
In one McElmurray case the court found the City of, "Augusta's reports were unreliable, incomplete, and in some cases,
fudged." Furthermore, Jeff Larson, an official with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division ("EPD"), "also
reported that management at the facility was "literally a joke[,]" and that the "staff is the most demoralized bunch of
people I have ever witnessed[ .]"
Not only that but, "The administrative record contains evidence that senior EPA officials took extraordinary steps to
quash scientific dissent, and any questioning of the EPA's biosolids program ."
In the second case, "Relators plainly allege that Defendants Walker and Brobst “knowingly caused to be submitted  10
grant applications, whereby they would obtain federal funds, by the use of false or fabricated data[,]” to discredit the
lawsuits filed by Relators McElmurray and Boyce." Since “[t]he [qualified immunity] defense is designed to protect ‘all but
the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violated the law[,]’” Morse v. Frederick, __ U.S. __, 127 S. Ct. 2618,
2640 (2007) (internal citation omitted), the Court finds that Defendants Walker and Brobst are not entitled to qualified
Perhaps the Stakeholders Might Want to Reevaluate the Science and Politics Behind the Reclaimed Water
and Sludge Use Studies That Prove They Are Safe?
Some of the Peer Review members research has been funded by the EPA for a very long time. Many were involved in
the 1972 NC-118 project, "Utilization and Disposal of Municipal, Industrial and Agricultural Processing Waste on Land"
and the W-124 project, "Soil as a Waste Treatment System--a five year study involving the Land Grant Universities,
USDA and EPA"; "Optimum Utilization of Sewage Sludge on Land", a 5 year project involved 44 researchers from 15
Land Grant Universities, 3 USDA laboratories, 1 EPA laboratory, 2 municipal wastewater treatment agencies and TVA.
(This project was extended for two years). In 1984, the W-124 committee transformed itself into the W-170 committee
for another 5 year project, "Chemistry and Bioavailability of Waste Constituents in Soils". This was a slightly smaller
group composed of 25 researchers from 13 Land Grant Universities, 2 USDA laboratories, 1 municipal wastewater
treatment agency, 1 EPA laboratory and TVA.
Some members of the W-170 and predecessor Committees organized and conducted with EPA, in 1973 the "Joint
Conference on Recycling of Municipal Sludges and Effluent on Land". In 1975, 76, and 77, they published papers
dealing with standardization and methodology of using sludge and wastewaters on land. In 1979, they reviewed the part
257 solid waste sludge disposal regulation. In 1983, the W-170 committee sponsored a workshop on "Utilization of
Municipal Wastewater and Sludge on Land" with EPA, USDA, the University of California Kearney Foundation of Soil
Science, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Science Foundation.
Two years later in 1985, the W-170 committee organized and conducted a workshop on "Land Application of Municipal
Sewage Sludge". The Workshop assessed the validity of the assumptions made in the risk assessment process on fate
of sludge contaminates. Findings of the workshop are contained in a book entitled Land Application of Municipal
Sewage Sludge edited by (three members of the Peer Review Committee) A.L. Page, T.J. Logan, and J.A. Ryan. 
A final thought about paying attention to industry professionals. They will not always give you the facts as indicated by
reporter Dana M. Nichols of The Record, who quotes Diana Messina, a supervising engineer at the California Central
Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, "Fish are very smart, they can detect if they are being surrounded by a
hazard, and they will swim away."