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What is ‘sludge’?
Why is this question be raised in Yelm – again, almost 30 years later?
“‘Crapshoot’ — How Sewage Contaminates Our Food Supply”


“Each year, millions of tons of sewage sludge
is disposed of on fields in the United States.”
Photo credit: Susan A. Secretariat/Flickr



– Editor’s Note:
The issue of sludge was a major news story here in 1989 when the City of Seattle purchased a large track of land in the Bald Hills to dump their sludge here on our pristine landscape. After much public outcry, including a march on the State Capital in Olympia by such local notables as JZ Knight and Linda Evans, Seattle finally dropped plans for a Yelm dump zone and sold their land.

Recently, a Yelm councilor asked about how the city’s sludge is handled because of required upgrades and other issues at Yelm Public Works, as massive funding imperatives become more in the spotlight this Autumn. The following article is an excellent information piece on how problematic sludge is.


– “It’s Time to Talk (Again) about Sewage Sludge on Farmland”
“The “land application” of sewage sludge has been promoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1993 as the preferred method for the disposal of this by-product of municipal wastewater treatment. Millions of tons of hazardous sewage sludge have subsequently been spread on farmland and public parks in the United States. Sometimes it is bagged and sold as “organic” fertilizer and compost in garden supply stores. No matter how it is processed or how slick it is marketed as a fertilizer or soil amendment, putting sewage sludge on land is a health and environmental disaster.

Has sewage sludge caused any farm damage? Once the sludge leaves the wastewater treatment plant, it is not tracked; there’s no national system for reporting sludge-related health or environmental problems; and farmers are not known for having deep pockets, which is what it would take to bring the issue of damages to U.S. courts.”

What is sludge?
“Isn’t sludge just treated feces and urine? No, it is whatever goes into the sewer system and emerges as solids from municipal wastewater treatment plants. Sludge can be (its exact composition varies and is not knowable) any of the 80,000 synthetic chemicals used by industry; new chemicals created from combining two or more of those 80,000; bacteria and viruses; hospital waste; runoff from roads; pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs; detergents and chemicals that are put down drains in residences; and, of course, urine and feces flushed down toilets,” by Laura Orlando, In These Times and the Institute for Public Affairs.
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– “‘Crapshoot’ — How Sewage Contaminates Our Food Supply”
Story at-a-glance
* “Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes,” a documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada, commands attention to sewage and how it is handled
* Today’s sewage contains chemicals, heavy metals, hospital waste, industrial solvents and pharmaceuticals, all of which remain in the sludge produced by waste treatment plants; this sludge is often repurposed and added as fertilizer to soil used on farms, gardens and lawns
* Like most people, you may give little thought to waste treatment and how the items you drop down the drain or flush in the toilet may be affecting the environment, food supply and public health.
By Dr. Mercola.
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Posted by Steve on September 6, 2017 at 12:01 am | Permalink

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2 comments

  1. It is so important to remember that sewer sludge aka biosolids is NOT just poop – it is a concentration of all domestic and industrial pollutants that go down drains and sewers. It has some good stuff in it, which plants can use, but a huge load of thousands of other contaminants.  Please read what independent scientists have to say on this issue –

    Three Informed Views on Sewer Sludge (aka Biosolids)

    Dr. Caroline Snyder – “Land-applied municipal sewage sludge (biosolids) is a highly complex and unpredictable mixture of biological and chemical pollutants. Biosolids generated in our large industrialized urban centers is very likely the most pollutant- rich waste mixture of the 21st century.”

    Dr. Marilyn Cameron – “We are concerned that farmers are not being provided adequate information about biosolids and the negative impacts that its use could have on your soils, groundwater and surface water sources, livestock health, and property values. Farmers will be the ones left paying the price for any damaged land, contaminated water, or human, wildlife and livestock illnesses, etc. Farmers may also suffer losses resulting from lack of consumer confidence in local foods”

    Dr. Richard Honour – “”Few in any governments appreciate that nearly all chronic diseases are caused by long-term exposure to low levels of environmental contaminants and pollutants. We should be trying to minimize this exposure, not amplifying it. It is time to end land disposal of Toxic Sewer sludge, and look at cleaner, greener alternatives – gasification / pyrolysis.”
    Let’s get on the right side of history, and use this waste resource to make energy. It is time to stop covering Mother Earth with our cities’ toxic sewage.

    And see this link for a great overview of the issues – http://bit.ly/2kehQlP by Dr. Thomas Maler
    A great article from Scientific American – https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/drugs-chemicals-seep-deep-into-soil-from-sewage-sludge/

    Comment by Don Vincent on September 10, 2017 at 12:16 pm

  2. January 2019 – And now there is a new petition for sewage sludge application off 128th & Bald Hills Rd. near the Nisqually River! Hearing in late January. Time to gather support and get mobilized once more! This Fire Mountain Group is bad news – just ask Mason County.

    Comment by Mark Kenney on January 4, 2019 at 12:10 am

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