Sludge News

Sludge News

The "land application" of sewage sludge has been promoted by EPA since 1993 as the preferred method of sludge disposal. Millions of tons of hazardous sewage sludge have subsequently been spread on farmland, school yards, and parks in the United States. This practice is a health and environmental disaster and must stop. People are organizing to end the dumping of sewage sludge on land, and they could use your help. Learn about toxic sludge and say no to its disposal on farms, parks, and other places where it poisons water and soil and make humans and animals sick.

The United States isn't the only place where sludge is dumped on land as a systematic disposal practice. Parts of Europe and Canada are also being sludged. Why? Sewage sludge is a byproduct of wastewater treatment. Dumping it on land is the least expensive way for municipalities to get rid of the stuff to make room for more. Also, the "land application" of sewage sludge can also be called "recycling," which helps fool the public and satisfies policy mandates for reducing landfill volumes. And there's push back from the sludge haulers - corporations that sign contracts with municipal authorities to remove the toxic material from the wastewater treatment plant. They do not want policy changes that will squeeze them out of the revenue stream, thus the corporate and corporate surrogates' constant and aggressive pressure on communities, politicians, and environmentalists to keep things as they are. (For example, Synagro, a major sludge corporation, has existing contracts to manage sludge worth billions of dollars. The corporation's top ten contracts provide them with over $1 billion.)

In a February 2012 news story out of Canada, a representative from the David Suzuki Foundation said, “The David Suzuki Foundation does not support the dumping of sewage sludge, treated or otherwise, on farmland. The potential for heavy metal and chemical contamination of crops grown in soils that are ‘conditioned’ with sludge from sewage treatment plants, and the potential for impacts on animal and human health from consuming those crops, raises concerns.” The Suzuki Foundation hit the nail on the head.

Changing federal policy can end the systematic contamination of our food supply and the degradation of our health from sewage sludge. What to do with it? Keep it off our food, gardens, yards, parks, and fields: keep sewage sludge out of life cycles.