Organic Consumers Association

CFS, OCA & Other Groups File Legal Petition Against Sewage Sludgeon Farm Lands

October 7, 2003

CONTACT: Laura Orlando, (617) 524-7258,

EPA Petitioned to Stop Land Application of Sewage Sludge

Georgia Court Case Links Sludge to Death of Hundreds of Dairy Cows

WASHINGTON petitioned Acting EPA Administrator Marianne Lamont Horinko to place an immediate moratorium on the land application of sewage sludge and ultimately
to prohibit the practice. The action was taken after a Georgia court ruled
that land application of sewage sludge < in compliance with EPA's sludge
rules < caused the deaths of 300 prized dairy cows at the Boyce-family farm
in Burke County, Georgia.

More than 23 million gallons of sewage sludge from the Messerly Wastewater
Plant in Augusta, Georgia, were applied on Boyce farmland under the
provisions of EPA's sludge program. After the Boyce cows were fed hay grown
on the sludge-covered fields, hundreds of the cows died. When the family
connected the deaths to sludge and stopped feeding their cows from these
fields, the mortality rate for the Boyce herd returned to normal.

"We have watched for years as the heavy metals and other toxic materials
present in sewage sludge, and accumulating in the soil, have sickened and
killed animals, and even people," said Laura Orlando, a spokesperson for the
coalition. "This Georgia court ruling is a fire bell in the night warning us
to end this deadly practice before we irreparably contaminate our nation¹s
food sources and farmland."

An assessment of the EPA sewage sludge program conducted by its own Office
of the Inspector General in 2002 concluded that, "EPA cannot assure the
public that current land application practices are protective of human
health and the environment."

EPA promotes the land application of sewage sludge < called biosolids by
industry < for disposal of this hazardous material from wastewater treatment
plants. Millions of tons of sludge have been spread on farmland across the
United States. The Georgia court ruling adds an important legal precedent to
the growing body of evidence that this EPA-permitted practice harms public
health, livestock and the environment.

Because of the hazardous waste materials routinely disposed of into sewers,
sludge routinely contains industrial wastes, hospital wastes
(pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, disease-carrying organisms), radioactive
wastes, heavy metals, and synthetic organic compounds (e.g., PCBs and
related compounds), as well as human fecal waste. All of the hazardous
chemicals used by American industry can be found in sewage sludge.

The Cornell Waste Management Institute alone has received over 350
sludge-based health complaints. Documented symptoms include respiratory
complications, abscesses, reproductive complications, cysts, and tumors,
asthma, weight loss, fatigue, eye irritations, flu-like symptoms,
gastrointestinal complications, headaches, immunodeficiency problems,
lesions, nausea, nosebleeds, and rashes. Nationwide, thousands of people
have reported sludge-related health problems, and at least three human
deaths have been attributed to sewage sludge.

"This petition is a legal document that compels a formal response within 60
days,"added Orlando. "EPA will not be able to dismiss this the way it has
ignored the mounting evidence that sludge is a health hazard to people and

The petition to EPA offers a detailed case regarding the dangers of land
application of sewage sludge and requests this practice be prohibited.
Signatories include the United Mine Workers of America, Clean Water Action,
the Organic Consumers Association, the Center for Food Safety, Farm Aid, and
Citizens for a Future New Hampshire. Please go to
<> for the full
text of the petition and a complete list of signatories.

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