Need further proof of corporate contempt for democracy?
The fine residents of Montgomery Township PA and, in fact, all Americans should be outraged at the sneaky and underhanded tactics that have been undertaken by the largest sewage sludge spreader in Franklin County – Synagro.
Last Spring, Montgomery Township residents made a common sense appeal to their Board of Supervisors to create and pass an ordinance that would help to protect them from the very real health risks posed by the spreading of municipal sewage sludge on land near their homes.
Due to fear on the part of the Board of Supervisors that Synagro would sue them if they passed a truly meaningful ordinance, the supervisors placated this feared corporate bully and, instead, created an almost toothless ordinance. The only real teeth the ordinance had was that the spreaders of this toxic goo would be required to post signs around the perimeter of the property where the sludge was spread. The purpose of these signs was to notify passers-by that real caution should be exercised so as not to come in contact with the sludge.
Title 25, subsection 271.932 of the Pennsylvania Code states the following as it relates to site restrictions for sewage sludge;
(5) Site restrictions.
(i) Food crops with harvested parts that touch the sewage sludge/soil mixture and are totally above the land surface may not be harvested for 14 months after application of sewage sludge.
(ii) Food crops with harvested parts below the surface of the land may not be harvested for 20 months after application of sewage sludge when the sewage sludge remains on the land surface for 4 months or longer prior to incorporation into the soil.
(iii) Food crops with harvested parts below the surface of the land may not be harvested for 38 months after application of sewage sludge when the sewage sludge remains on the land surface for less than 4 months prior to incorporation into the soil.
(iv) Food crops, feed crops and fiber crops may not be harvested for 30 days after application of sewage sludge.
(v) Animals may not be allowed to graze on the land for 30 days after application of sewage sludge.
(vi) Turf grown on land where sewage sludge is applied may not be harvested for 1 year after application of the sewage sludge when the harvested turf is placed on either land with a high potential for public exposure or a lawn, unless otherwise specified by the Department.
(vii) Public access to land with a high potential for public exposure shall be restricted for 1 year after application of sewage sludge.
(viii) Public access to land with a low potential for public exposure shall be restricted for 30 days after application of sewage sludge.
Now, as if the preceding were not enough to indicate to the average, literate person that they and their children should avoid contact with land applied sludge, Paul Gilman, EPA Deputy Administrator stated on a CBS Evening News report that aired on October 29, 2003 that:
"At this point the agency has taken the position that the material [biosolids a.k.a. sewage sludge] is safe, but because there's significant uncertainty about that, we've got to revisit that question,". "There's no doubt we have to be more sure about this than we are today."
Based on all of this, does it seem unreasonable, (except to those who will benefit financially), to require signs to be posted that specifically point out the caution that should be exercised by anyone that comes close to a sludged field?
Instead of signs that urge caution, here is what Synagro's and DEP's signs display:
If the same example was applied to the Surgeon General Warning on cigarettes, here is what would appear on the side of cigarette packs:
The contempt and disrespect Synagro (and those they have contracts with) exhibits toward the human beings who live in, raise their families in and pay their taxes in Montgomery Township is absolutely despicable and should not be tolerated by any American regardless of your opinion of sewage sludge. This is a true slap in democracy's face and we should all be incensed by Synagro's actions.
The good people of Montgomery Township made one mistake – instead of demanding that the ordinance specify the exact language that should appear on these signs, they trusted, (perhaps naively), that Synagro and PA's DEP would exercise some decency and would take the steps necessary to make sure parents were aware of a possible risk and would make sure their children did not innocently wander into these toxic minefields.
I guess they assumed the people running Synagro and DEP had some degree of human decency. I am saddened to see they were mistaken.
Scott H. Blanchard
President - CROPS
BLO fecit 20031119