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An Open Letter About Sludge To The United States Senate

September 10, 2008

When I drive through the areas where sludge is being applied to the farm fields that grow the food for our families and our livestock, the smell is the immediate clue that something is wrong.

Sludge from wastewater treatment plants is not clean manure: the farmers who grow our food are being lied to. And, the smell is not the problem. The smell is merely the, “canary in the coal mine” that concentrated toxins are being poured onto the land that feeds us. Do we kill the “canary”; pursue the goal of eliminating the smell to pretend that we are not poisoning our future? Do we continue to dump known poisonous refuse on our food supply and wonder where the E. coli and Salmonella and cancer came from? The smell is not the problem.

When the rains wash the sludge run-off into our waterways, leaching into our underground aquifers and wells, the slick of pathogens and pollution is the immediate clue that something is wrong. And, the rain is not the problem. The rain is merely making an effort to refresh the one source of our existence – water.

Do we pretend that a few more feet of plant barriers will save us from the carcinogens we know remain in our waste and refuse? Do we splash more chemicals into the water that every living thing needs to survive, adding to the expense and health risk? The rain is not the problem.

When our friends and neighbors suffer from festering wounds or gasp for breath or run from their own homes or weep for their dead children, they are accused of making trouble in their communities by demanding to be safe. And, our friends and neighbors are not the problem.

Our communities, expecting their elected officials and democracy will protect them, deserve the health, wealth and happiness that our laws should promote. Do we pretend that the bacteria and diseases will avoid our bodies because we create bad laws that defend corrupt and deadly business practices? Do we abuse democracy by renaming the false and misleading corporate funded studies “progress”? Our friends and neighbors are not the problem.

We know what the problem is. We know that testing for 9 elements out of the thousands of toxins and heavy metals in our sludge is the deadly game that our EPA and DEP and lawmakers have been playing with the sludge industry. We know it’s time for elected officials to create laws that protect all of our hometowns. We know our farmers need the truth about killing their landscape and livestock and our food supply. We know it’s time to stop looking to the false science and testing to excuse the poison and pathogens and pus and poo that are poured where we eat. We know it’s time for companies to prove they are not poisoning us, not for communities to prove that they are being poisoned.

We know what the problem is. It’s time for us to value the democracy and the humanity and the science that we deserve. It’s time to stop pouring our toxic sludge on the land where we get our food and the water where we get our drink. And it’s time to stop now.

Darree Sicher