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One whiff

September 6, 2008

One whiff is all it took to tighten my chest and make my lungs burn. My lips were numb for 5 minutes later. I'd just driven thru a cloud of aerosolized sewage sludge, sprayed legally within 100 feet (based on the flag placement and where I saw them spraying) of public highway 87S in Alamance County. Beautiful day out with my daughter, windows down enjoying the first few cool days of September. WHAM! the smell was unreal and sucked my breath out. I hurt. Imagine living beside this and getting slammed several times a year without anyway to drive away, as I did.

The farmer spreading has a choice, the sprayer-driver has a choice, but the neighbors have ZERO choice. I drove on but the numb lips lasted for miles. Finally it hit me; this is going on all over America and western europe. We are poisoning ourselves and our land for short term gain and the profit of corporations and cities. This is an environmental justice issue.

Poor farmers are being lied to and preyed upon. The most vulnerable members of our society and the most important, our rural communities are being poisoned in this 30 year experiment for the benefit of the cities. Do not tell me about rural septic tanks... they represent a small fraction of the vast loads of sludge spread on farm fields... besides, we place a huge import on proper percing land... is all that a sham? Is every county perc agent working a sham job? No. They matter and septic tanks work. If they don't... fix them, but don't use rural septic tanks as a way to include rural people in the blame for the 30 year long travesty.

We need to redirect the huge amount of contaminated sludge into a 100% municipal control loop and stop letting third parties take the liability away from the city and shift it to farm communities. To do this we could turn the sludge to energy, using low temperature, high pressure conversion to biofuel and fuel our cities. Many other alternatives are available rather than the simplistic and harmful practice of spreading unknown chemicals on our food growing fields.

Thanks for considering stopping this process. In 1993 congress had the sense to say that this process was harming the oceans and fish from ocean dumping. Now it is time to admit it harms small farm fields and people as well. Finally, if it is so very clean and harmless AND good fertilizer then why would any intelligent city manager let this revenue stream be given away for free. The fact that they do proves they are stuck with a damaging product they are desperate to get rid of rather than admit the great liability of the toxins borne by sludge.

Regards, MIke Holland, PhD Saxapahaw, NC