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Grand Bay, Alabama is Mobile's toilet

September 4, 2008

It is our position to attempt to stop a process that we as a community feel exposes us to disease causing organisms, produces an extremely offensive odor that robs us of our right to enjoy outdoor activities and to breathe clean air, devalues our property and is potentially hazardous to out pets, groundwater, wildlife and environment.

We as a community have experienced repeated health related symptoms such as headaches, sore throats, earaches, eye infections, sores in our noses, diarrhea, eczema, asthma, and staph infections. Three members of out community are battling staph now and we have two other documented cases. Through our research we have discovered similar cases in other communities where Class B sludge is distributed. According to the EPA, Class B sludge may contain sufficient quantities of Class B biosolids pathogens to warrant restricted public access. And yet our children ride their bikes beside fields where sewage is frequently dumped. There are no warning signs posted to alert the public of the potential health threat we are being exposed to. Were it not for our own tenacious endeavors to educate ourselves, we would be ignorant to the risks that our families are being exposed to.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health collected air samples for bacteria and endotoxin and bulk samples of sludge and found potentially pathogenic bacteria in both. There are four major types of organisms found in biosolids, bacteria, viruses, protozoa and parasitic worms. We are very concerned about our exposure to airborne contaminants. We are not aware of any practices to reduce vector attraction, rats, mice, birds, mosquitoes, flies, etc. According to the EPA Guide to the Part 503 Rule, biosolids must be incorporated into the soil within six hours after being placed on the soil surface. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health states Class B biosolids should be incorporated (thoroughly mixed) into the soil to prevent suspension into the air during periods of dryness. We as a community have never witnessed these fields being disked. We are concerned about mosquito bites and other insects that may potentially carry disease.

Data is sparse concerning many of our concerns but there is enough evidence to prove the potential health risks that we are facing. It is a fact that pathogens are found in Class B sludge and can regrow in disposal sites. There is certainly a shift in scientific evidence on human health and environmental safety concerning Class B sludge. Class B sludge would never be allowed to be spread over golf courses and yet the fields that surround our homes are used as landfills for sewage. This is a city problem that is being visited upon us in the county. We have spend thousands of dollars to have septic systems installed to take care of our own sewage. It is our belief that if there is any doubt whatsoever in the safety of the use of Class B sewer sludge in our community that it should be stopped immediately, regardless of the ADEM protocols being followed. We are not expendable and our rights are being violated.

Stacy Thornton and Dee Dee Spann, Grand Bay AL

See "Grand Bay residents upset that farmland is fertilized with processed sewage,"  Sunday, August 31, 2008, by Ben Raines Press-Register Staff Reporter,