Politics of Hazardous Chemicals and Etiologic Agents on Water, Land and Air The Ticking Time Bomb Explodes

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Politics of Hazardous Chemicals and Etiologic Agents on Water, Land and Air The Ticking Time Bomb Explodes

Jim Bynum, VP 11/7/2009
Help For Sewage Victims

The ticking time bomb theory was promoted in a 1980 EPA funded publication "Waste Alert". This term was used in response to the "time honored practice" of dumping hazardous chemical and sewage waste in shallow land burial sites. At the same time the Office of Solid Waste Division was intent on cleaning up these massive hazardous waste dump sites such as Love Canal and Velsicol's 350,000 barrel Hardeman County, Tennessee drum farm, the Office of Water Division was focused on creating even more chemical and infectious hazardous sewage waste dump sites on agricultural land under an Inter agency Policy (signed by FDA and USDA). The Water Division promoted the time
honored practice of using sewage as a fertilizer. This eventually resulted in placing this chemical contaminated infectious waste on your lawn and your child's school grounds as well as in public parks. However, the Office of Water refused to require the use of the chemical toxicity test for sludge use to determine if the sludge meets the hazardous
waste criteria. The chemical toxicity test used to determine the hazardous level of a substance in waste was designed to indicate the difference between the level of a hazardous substance disposed of in a landfill and the potential acid leaching of a portion (approx. 20 ppm = 1 ppm or 5%) of the hazardous substance into the ground water above the drinking water maximum contaminate levels (MCLs) at a mismanaged landfill. To illustrate the point, if you are dealing with exceptional quality Class A sludge biosolids with 300 ppm of lead in it, the hazardous leaching level could be 15 ppm. That is 3 times the designated hazardous waste level. It is assumed that the total heat inhibited infectious bacteria E. coli and Klebsiella are less that 1,000 colonies per gram. However, the bacteria in the sludge biosolids has not been heat inhibited so no one knows what those numbers are.

Congress was smart enough to declare that a waste with infectious characteristics was a hazardous waste in the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (updated Solid Waste Act). In an ironic twist of science, EPA decided to use Christiaan Eijkman's modified elevated temperature test that is used to confirm recent human fecal contamination in drinking water and food as the gold standard for assuring the safety of primary human fecal material, sewage sludge.

The twisted science is that if a few pathogenic gram negative coliform such as E. coli and Klebsiella are confirmed in the elevated temperature fecal coliform test, it indicates there are more pathogens in water, which was not elevated to the same temperature. The Eijkman elevated temperature test is now referred to as the Fecal coliform test. The higher heat of the test not only inhibits the growth of primary fecal coliform E. coli and Klebsiella, but it suppresses the growth of other pathogenic gram negative bacteria. Gram negative bacteria are the major group responsible for antibiotic resistant hospital acquired infections. The time bomb has exploded. Antibiotic resistant bacteria have become common in community outbreaks. However, the prime examples are not gram negative bacteria. They are Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE). Neither strain existed in 1980, and do not show up in the fecal coliform test, nor does the gram negative E. coli 0157:H7 which was created about 1974.

Courts in Missouri and Georgia have now documented that the hazardous substances in sludge are cattle killers, just as EPA documented in the 1980s "Waste Alert". EPA's Water Division still claims the fecal coliform test, and coliform test indicate pathogens may be present, but do not reveal any pathogenic bacteria in water, sewage effluent used to irrigate food crops, or sewage sludge used as a fertilizer or soil amendment on grazing land, food crops, school grounds, parks and home lawns. What they mean is that they don't know which gram negative pathogens are active in the tests and that low temperature coliform test for water are allowed a 5% failure rate as long as E. coli and klebsiella can not be confirmed by the elevated temperature fecal coliform test.

The political climate has favored public and private business over protecting human health and the environment. As examples, Acetonitrile is a chemical that is metabolized to hydrogen cyanide and thiocyanate in the body. In 1992 alone, 11.3 million pounds were released into the atmosphere. It was found in air ranging from 2 to 7 ppb in both urban
and rural areas. The upside is there is an extreme shortage of the product in 2009. A recent action in May 2009 to revoke the pesticide carbofuran tolerances on food by EPA might signal a new era at EPA. However, we have to wonder why EPA had a very long comment period of 500 days when the "Short-term health effects include headache,
sweating, nausea, diarrhea, chest pains, blurred vision, anxiety and general muscular weakness." Long term, it causes damage to the nervous and reproductive systems. Both meet the RCRA definition of a hazardous waste -- but they are not hazardous if they are being used???? EPA also plans to address "unacceptable risks to farmworkers during
pesticide application and to birds in and around treated fields".

The results of politicizing hazardous waste and agency policies is the high number of pandemics now suffered by the public and the chronic inflammation many of us must live with. Chronic inflammation is a result of the immune system running wild while trying to protect our bodies from the hazardous substances and infectious etiologic agents in our air, food, or water that we have eaten, inhaled, drank, or absorbed through our skin.

EPA and Its Partners --The Stakeholders in the Hazardous Waste Game

The term stakeholder original meant someone who held the gambling stakes with no interest in the outcome of the game. As used by EPA and its partners today, the term means "those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist.". This usage of the term was first defined by Stanford Research institute, a spin off from Stanford University. Two examples are the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) and the National Biosolds Partnership (NBP) organization created and supported by members of Water Environment Federation (WEF) to promote toxic sewage sludge use on agricultural land, school grounds, parks and home lawns without regard to public
health and the environment. Also, of interest here is that Stanford University holds the first patent for creating chimera bacteria such as E. coli 0157:H7 which is creating havoc in food and public health, especially where treated sewage is used to irrigate food crops.

Some folks think we are the most intelligent group of people that has every inhabited this planet. Recent political history tends to prove that is not true, However, on the surface it does appears to be true. In a little over hundred years we have developed automobiles, airplanes, space craft, television, and the World Wide Web known as the Internet. We
have also created over 80,000 chemicals with unknown health effects, either alone or in combination. To top that off, we have developed the god like ability to create new forms of infectious etiologic (disease causing) agents never before seen in nature, and for which we have little or no treatment.

During that same time period we were dumping toxic wastes contaminated with chemicals and etiologic agents into water, on land and into the air as a means of disposal without any concern for the damage to human health or the environment. In the early part of the 20th century it was understandable to some degree. Raw sewage was being
released into surface water. Many municipalities had huge land treatment farms for the treatment of sewage. Sewage treatment plants were just starting to be evaluated by some municipalities because sewage contaminated drinking water was a known cause of cholera. Toxic chemicals, metals and infectious pathogenic agents were never a major
consideration in the disposal of sewage. Milwaukee started to heat dry sewage sludge in 1926-27 and sell it nationally as Milorganite fertilizer for golf courses and ball parks. In 2007, about 30 Milwaukee playgrounds and ballfields were closed after high levels of PCB contaminated Milorganite was donated for use as a fertilizer. The official opinion was that it was not likely to cause disease in children playing on the fields.

The organization "Federation of Sewage Works Associations" was created the following year after Milorganite came on the market to promote the industry science. The name was later changed to Federation of Sewage and Industrial Wastes Associations in 1950 which was actively involved in research based on the level of science available at that
time. In 1960 the name was changed to Water Pollution Control Federation which continued research. In the 70s members of the Water Pollution Control Federation became involved EPA's sludge disposal research and when the Proposed Part 503 sludge use and disposal regulation was release in 1989, the Water Environment Research
Foundation was created as an independent scientific research organization funded by industry and the federal government geared toward proving sewage sludge and treated sewage effluent was safe for use as a fertilizer and irrigation of food crops. The Water Pollution Control Federation name was changed to the Water Environment
Federation (WEF) in 1991 and one of the first order of business was to create a name change task force whose purpose was to dream up a new name for sewage sludge disposed of on agricultural land and marketed as a consumer fertilizer and soil amendment for home use. The final choice, biosolids, was chosen as a means to convince the public and political bodies that toxic sludge was simply biological solids and not a solid waste as defined by the RCRA. The name was not complete untrue, since even treated sludge is composed of biological active infectious pathogens included free with solids in a liquid base. Heat dried sludge such as Milorganite is a biological solid waste loaded with desiccated biological bacteria and endotoxins components (which may become active when wet) and hazardous substances. Elevated heat causes most gram negative bacteria to become dormant, with a few exceptions. The primary
pathogenic bacteria that are used as indicators in the elevated temperature fecal coliform test used on sludge to imply its safety are two gram negative heat inhibited pathogenic coliforms, E. coli and klebsiella. Sludge with less than 1,000 colonies of total E. coli, Klebsiella or other gram negative bacteria with the thermotolerant gene per gram may be
designated Class A. Sludge with less than 2 million colonies of total E. coli, Klebsiella or other gram negative bacteria with the thermotolerant gene per gram is designated Class B.

EPA released the final Part 503 Use and Disposal regulation in February 1993 with the stipulation that if sludge disposal was considered to be the "normal application of fertilizer", along with a Federal NPDES permit, then a release of hazardous substances (503 pollutants) would not create any liability under the Superfund Act. By December of 1994, EPA's John Walker and Bob Bastian had compiled a list of 19 sludge horror stories they gave to the WEF to debunk. Not only that, but they found a writer the WEF was ordered to hire and listed the people to furnish the information and how to handle the Candidates for the Rest of the Story. To top it off, the funding for the WEF project would come from EPA's pollution prevention budget. WEF implies that all of the horror victims listed as reviewers approved the "Fact Sheets". The most notable victim listed as a reviewers is Linda Zander, President, Help for Sewage Victims. The horror stories were written up as WEF Biosolids Fact Sheets and posted on the Biosolids Partnership website, another organization created by EPA and its stakeholders to promote sludge use as a fertilizer and soil amendment.

Walker's instructions to WEF's Nancy Blatt were explicit, "If the cases were (2) Zander, (4)Miami-Dade, (5) Tree Kill, (6) Miniature horses, (7) Bioaerosols, (10) AIDS, (11) Lou Gehrig's Disease, (12) Turf grass loss, (13) Dead cattle in NC; then the audience might be the general public who various anti groups tell the "horrors" of these cases and to which we would tell the rest of the story. The audience might also be WEF biosolids spokesperson and/or the wastewater professionals who would be working with the general public to tell the authoritative truth. Some of the cases may be written up for more than one audience, (i.e., differently for each different audience.)"

Walker's memo did not explain to Blatt how to handle number "(14) BLM policy opposing use of biosolids on Federal lands: equating it(s) use to hazardous waste dumping and landfilling raising SUPERFUND liability concerns."

The horrors referred to here, according to Walker's 12-29-94 memo are, "(2) Linda Zander case - sick & dead cattle, worker health -Farm Bureau and Dairy Today stories. (5) Tree kill in Washington State with King Co METRO biosolids on Weyerhauser land. (6) Miniature horse deaths in Oklahoma. (7) Biosolids -- claim need for 2 to 5 mile barrier in NYC. (10) Biosolids a cause of AIDS, (11) Biosolids used on ball fields causing Lou Gehrig's Disease -what it took to debunk this claim. (12) Maryland turf grass grower crop loss due to biosolids use - involved grower's use of a highway roller on his fields. (13) Raleigh, NC-- dead cattle from nitrate poisoning due to forage with high nitrogen content. Forage was not mixed with other low-nitrate fodder as advised by the POTW."

The Zanders' have never had their day in court where they could address the sludge issues even though their dairy was destroyed. Powerful entities (Washington State Department of Ecology and King County Department of Metropolitan Services, the EPA, AMSA and WEF) have conspired to prevent this from ever happening. According to documented evidence, on February 22, 1993, two State Department of Ecology Representatives, Al Hanson, and Kyle Dorsey, four King County Metro representatives, Mark Lucas, Carol Ready, Steve Gilbert, Dan Sturgill and their legal counsel, Salley Tenney, of the Metro Legal Services, Mel Kemper of the City of Tacoma, Hal Thurston, an attorney
representing the cities that were involved in the Zanders' lawsuits and four individuals also associated with the Zander law suit, met in a closed meeting to discuss the Zander Case.

According to Keith A. Bode, as recorded in the Zander Action Summary, the legal cost to stop her will exceed $500,000 dollars. Bode warned those in attendance at the meeting that Zander had to be stopped. He said that she had identified 18 medical experts (including physicians, immunologists, toxicologists, and nutritionists), 9 veterinarians, 2
property valuation/devaluation experts, 3 soil/hydraulic/geologic experts and 1 testing lab who would testify about the dangers of sewage sludge use to humans and animals. Bode warned that there would be extra-regional impact and "This action must not be settled". He reminded those present: The public persona of biosolids is precarious, at best,
and each member of WEF and AMSA can be assured that Zander appears dedicated to capitalizing on every available opportunity to publicize her scare story...and remember, with respect to land application, the farming community comprises less than 2% of the population, so she need only reach a narrow population to cripple land
application. It is essential that her soapbox be removed and her credibility challenged before our regional problem has any more effect (than she has now) nationally or internationally on land application of biosolids.

The Zanders were not the only ones to have their dairy farm destroyed. Ed Roller's dairy farm in Sparta, Mo. was destroyed by contaminated runoff from a neighboring sludge farm. Robert Rune's dairy cattle in Vermont were destroyed by crops he raised on sludged land. The Andy McElmurray dairy farm and Bill Boyce dairy in Georgia were
also destroyed by crops raised on sludged land. Only Roller, McElmurry and Boyce have received any court ordered compensation which did not cover the damage. However, the court did order USDA to compensate McElmurry for land that was to contaminated to grow crops. Many of the dying cattle were sent to the slaughterhouse and into the food
chain. Just as important, contaminated milk from the dairy cattle was also allowed to enter the food chain by regulators. The Alice Minter Trust farm in Kansas City, Mo. was also destroyed for growing crops by runoff from the City owned sludge farm. Individual soil test reveal that both E. coli and Salmonella were at over 800,000 colonies per 100 grams of soil. The individual test for heat inhibited E. coli and Klebsiella fecal coliform revealed levels of only 3000, 9000 colonies per 100 grams of soil. However, a third test revealed 650,000 fecal coliform per 100 grams of soil in an area the City had mistakenly applied sludge 7 years earlier. The crops from this contaminated soil as well as the City's sludge farm went directly into the human foodchain.

Studies have documented Salmonella infection of cattle grazing on pastures fertilized with toxic sewage sludge and a cycle of infection from humans to sludge to animals to humans. (Taylor and Burrows. 1971, WHO. 1981, Dorn, 1985) Studies have also documented the acute toxicity of organic pollutants in sewage sludge (which the EPA does not address in the beneficial use regulation) and that the pollutants in sludge may not leave any indication in the body as to the actual cause of death. (Babish. 1981, 1985). Beneficial use, according to two EPA funded "scientific studies" is based on the fact that "Suitable landfill sites are, however, being exhausted. Thus sludge is now being applied to farmland by many municipalities." (Dorn, 1985). and "The limited capacity of sanitary landfills is quickly exhausted, and communities are not providing for new landfills." (National Research Council (NCR), 1996). The federal Bureau of Land Management has over 250 million acres which could help the landfill situation, but as noted above it thinks about Superfund liability. As EPA noted in the preamble to part 503, "Sludge disposed of in a sanitary landfill will not harm anyone, nor will it contaminate the food or water supply." (Federal Register (FR.) 58, 32, p. 9375).
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