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Sludge, farmland, and food

September 7, 2008

I live in rural North Caroliina in Orange county between Burlington and Chapel Hill. Sludge has spread on pastureland in this area for many years. I have neighbors who have asthma and other health problems related to sludge. At a recent hearing in Burlington concerning a permit for sludge application, a woman living in a housing subdivision next to where sludge is spread is unable to go outside for days after the sludge has been applied.

North Carolina is growing rapidly like many states in the south. The spreading of sludge on farmland should increase with the increasing population, but the farmland available will obviously decrease as more houses are built. The encounters between sludge and people will increase and it is only a matter of time before this becomes a huge nuisance issue for large numbers of people.

Of more concern to me is the huge numbers of chemicals from personal products, cleaning supplies, drugs, industrial waste, heavy metals and other unknown chemicals that may build up in the soil and run off into the streams over time.

This area has a number of farms and organic farms. How long will it be before these farms, our produce, and farm animals are contaminated? Will we be building our schools and houses on sludge contaminated land? I understand that something has to be done with this material, but cities are completely oblivious to this wholesale contamination of the environment. More sustainable alternatives must be found.

Sludge was killing the ocean and the practice of ocean dumping was stopped. Sludge may kill farmland a lot slower, but we really can't afford to find out the hard way.

Pamela Groben (Tomberg), Mebane NC