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August 28, 2008

Dear Honorable US Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee Members:

This letter is in response to the many requests of those who have become ill from the land application of what our government and the industry that profits from it refers to as “biosolids” – a clever but unabashed public relations term designed to disguise what it truly is. These requests are from individuals, like me and my family, whose lives have been forever altered by these applications. Below are just a few examples of sludge related illnesses for your review. Please consider the effects to these citizens due to the exposure of sewage sludge land applications.

 My mother was mobile to the extent that she was able to walk down our driveway, two tenths of a mile long, almost every day. We live approximately one mile away from a site that was sludged. When my mother fell ill, the first question asked by the pulmonologist was if she has had any exposure to chemicals or gases. She now, after three months of diligently exercising her lower limbs, is able to walk from her bed to the bathroom with the use of a walker and someone at her side. She has overcome pneumonia, two bouts of congestive heart failure and countless episodes of stomach problems, along with a mysterious rash. Considering she had none of these specific problems before sludge, and we have lived in this house for eleven years, I would like for someone to prove to me that the sludge was not the cause.

As for me, I have the upper respiratory problems and a constant raw, inflamed, irritated throat that still lingers in addition to the initial stomach related problems that first plagued me, along with constant headaches. We have a family of four with similar complaints and we had a forty-eight-year-old female die of a heart attack with no prior history of heart problems, leaving behind a husband and a twelve year old son. They lived across the street from the sludge applications.

This is an account of only a few of the fifteen people affected in my immediate community in Prince Edward County, Virginia. In another county a lady in her early forties had pneumonia and was then diagnosed with e-coli in her lungs. She has to go to the hospital every so often to be placed on a machine that will shake up the bacteria in her lungs. She is on a maintenance dose of antibiotics one full week out of the month for the rest of her life. Her neighbor has a bacterial infection of her nose and has to have maintenance doses of antibiotics. Another neighbor was sick for ten straight days and lost fifteen pounds. Yet another neighbor had to have a lobe removed from his lungs because of a bacterial infection. There are others in this community with similar problems and stories to tell if given the chance.

These are just a few accounts of victims here in the state of Virginia. Many other states have been affected and their citizens have expressed their grievances. I am in touch with other victims across the United States and they are willing to come forth and tell their stories as well. Please tell us what it is we need to do to get the much-needed help for the many citizens who have been affected by these applications. Each road we have traveled down has met with a new obstacle.

Please put yourselves in our shoes and visualize the burdens and frustration we have had to bear. We ask for a moratorium on land applications until it has been thoroughly investigated and proven safe. The burden of proof should lie on the Biosolids Industry and not on the citizens.

Below are just a few questions of concern that citizens have:

1. We want to know why the decisions on sludge have been made by a very few when it affects a great many?

2. Why is it when we submit the data and peer reviewed scientific information requested, the only results we see is that the bar has been raised to another level?

3. Why is our integrity constantly challenged and that of our physicians, the very doctors of medicine that know our health history before the applications and after? Why are they ignored? Who has the right to challenge their training and education?

Please hear our voice and prevent this from happening in the future to other citizens and their families.


Mary H. Carwile, Chair
Commonwealth Coalition
Pamplin, VA 23958

County Representation for Virginia Commonwealth Coalition.
Towns of: Albemarle, Essex, Isle of Wight, Nottaway, Augusta, Frederick, Appomattox, Fauquier, Loundon, Henrico, Charlotte, Madison, Amherst, Goochland, Fairfax, Hanover, Shenandoah, Rockingham, Amelia, Greene, Northumberland, Lunenburg, Clarke, Dinnwiddie, Buckingham, Greenville, Cumberland, Surry, Chesterfield, Arlington, Campbell, Halifax, Prince Edward, Bedford, Lousia, Nelson, Mecklingburg, Culpeper, Paige, Sussex.