I contacted a close friend of mine who sold chemicals to Sewage Treatment facilities on the east coast and in the Southeast for seven or eight years. He is now a High School Chemistry teacher, so I trust what he says. Here are some of the questions he suggested to me that people need to be asking. Some of these were asked and answered at the June 11th meeting, so my apologies for listing some of the same questions that have been asked:
- Where is the waste coming from and is it from industrial or residential sources?
- How is the sewage being treated, is it a digested (typically an anaerobic process) or an aerobic waste?
- Is the sewage biologically active when being spread? Is the sludge (sewage) being tested for heavy metals and for harmful pathogens (bacterial and protist)?
- How much phosphorus and nitrogen does the sludge contain, is there concern about run-off or contamination of water ways or ground water pollution?
- How close are these farms to communities and new neighborhoods? Are these communities using ground water or county water sources? Will there be ground water monitoring at these farms or communities?
- What are the rules (DEQ) when it comes to land application of sewage? How often? How much? In rain? After rain? When do the farms have to be tilled and how often? If the farmer plants crops is there an issue with food/feed crop contamination?
The concerns around the use of treated sewage sludge have been around for quite a while. I came across this 1999 article out of the Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, Georgia and their fight against spreading of sludge as fertilizer.
Here is the link to the Nutri-Blend Biosolids Land Application and the Public Notice – Environmental Permit Application from the Campbell County Government web site. The PDF of the Land Application lists the locations where Nutri Blend has applied to spread the sludge. The Public Notice PDF has the information at the bottom for how people can submit comments or questions. ALL COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS MUST BE IN BY JULY 13, 2009.
CONTACT FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS, DOCUMENT REQUESTS AND ADDITIONAL
INFORMATION: Kevin A. Crider; DEQ – Blue Ridge Regional Office, 7705 Timberlake Road,
Lynchburg, VA 24502; Phone: (434) 582-5120; E-mail: Kevin.Crider@deq.virginia.gov; Fax: (434) 582-5125