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From : 
Len Martin <lcmartin@csrlink.net>
 
To : 
"Jack Shannon, Rush Township Supervisor" <jshan37@hotmail.com>,"Jim Lamont UMWA International Safety Rep." <Moosung74@aol.com>,"Rick Laird, Rush Township Supervisor" <lairds@pennswoods.net>
 
CC : 
"DEP David Hess, Executive Deputy Secretary" <DavidHess@state.pa.us>
 
Subject : 
Rep. George again asked PA DEP to suspend Class B sludge applications
 
Date : 
Thu, 11 Jul 2002 23:26:30 -0400
 
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National study faults science behind sludge rules

HARRISBURG, July 3, 2002 - State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, Democratic chairman of the House
Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, today again asked the state Department of Environmental
Protection to suspend Class B sludge applications after a national, 18-month study determined that federal
safety standards are outdated and inadequate.

“It’s time the DEP put protection before corporate profits and convenience,” said Rep. George, D-74 of
Clearfield County. “”Ignoring the latest study raises the stakes that land application of sewage sludge is a
reckless gamble with Pennsylvanians’ health and welfare.”

The study released Tuesday by the National Academies, an umbrella group encompassing the National
Academies of Sciences and Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, found:

    A serious lack of health-related information about people exposed to treated sewage sludge.
 
    The Environmental Protection Agency used an unreliable 1988 survey to identify hazardous chemicals in
    sludge when it set national standards.
 
    Chemicals not identified in the 1988 survey have since been found to be of potential concern.
 
    The EPA has not been verifying if pathogens are dying off, whether the land is being used for agriculture
    or grazing, or whether public access is adequately restricted.
 
    Studies of workers exposed to raw sewage are not an adequate substitute for studies of populations
    exposed to sludge.

“Twenty-three months ago today, I called for the immediate suspension of all Class B sludge applications in
Pennsylvania after the Centers for Disease Control determined workers may be exposed to disease-causing
organisms while handling Class B sludge,” Rep. George said. “This latest study highlights the unstudied
hazards in sludge and makes it imperative that the DEP suspend sludge applications while working with the
sludge industry to make it safer.”

Rep. George noted that many of the regulatory faults found in the National Academies’ study have been
demonstrated in Pennsylvania. Sludge is suspected in the death of an 11-year-old Clearfield County boy, who
died in 1994 a week after playing in a mine site where Class B sludge was applied. The site contained no
warnings of the sludge, despite federal regulations requiring them, and the DEP apologized to the boy’s
mother after it had wrongly maintained that her son died of a bee sting and that the site had not been sludged.

“The DEP also was being either dishonest or ignorant when it insisted that the pathogen that killed the boy was
not found in sludge,” Rep. George said. An industrial hygienist for the National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health refuted the DEP, saying, “I don’t know why it [the pathogen] couldn’t be” found in sludge.

The Academies’ study (Page 135) noted that, new studies of the contaminant concentrations in biosolids
should include evaluation of pollutants not included in previous surveys. “Data gaps that result in the inability to
assess risks need to be identified so that research can be conducted to fill those gaps,” it said.

“Most Pennsylvanians should be aware by now that the DEP is in the business of promoting sludge, not
warning the public of its dangers,” Rep. George said. “However, this latest study raises the ante on DEP’s
gamble on the safety of sludge. It is a gamble no Pennsylvanian should be subjected to until we know
conclusively the dangers inherent in sludge.”

Rep. George said the study gives new impetus to the scores of amendments and bills he has filed over the last
20 years that would increase inspections, treatment and local control over Class B sludge, which is not treated
as extensively as Class A sludge. Scientists at the CDC have recommended that all sludge be cleaned to
Class A standards because of the risk that diseases could be transmitted through the Class B sludge.

“While the DEP ignores the mounting evidence and the public outcry against sludge, Senate Bill 1413 would
harm hard-fought efforts by municipalities to restrict sludge,” Rep. George said. “I can’t state the case against
sludge any better than the EPA microbiologist who said, ‘The worst thing about sludge is not what we know
about it, but what we don’t know about it.’”

The Academies’ study, “Biosolids Applied to Land: Advancing Standards and Practices,” is available on the
Internet at www.nap.edu.

Return to member's media index

National study faults science behind sludge rules

HARRISBURG, July 3, 2002 - State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, today again asked the state Department of Environmental Protection to suspend Class B sludge applications after a national, 18-month study determined that federal safety standards are outdated and inadequate.

“It’s time the DEP put protection before corporate profits and convenience,” said Rep. George, D-74 of Clearfield County. “”Ignoring the latest study raises the stakes that land application of sewage sludge is a reckless gamble with Pennsylvanians’ health and welfare.”

The study released Tuesday by the National Academies, an umbrella group encompassing the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, found:

  • A serious lack of health-related information about people exposed to treated sewage sludge.
     
  • The Environmental Protection Agency used an unreliable 1988 survey to identify hazardous chemicals in sludge when it set national standards.
     
  • Chemicals not identified in the 1988 survey have since been found to be of potential concern.
     
  • The EPA has not been verifying if pathogens are dying off, whether the land is being used for agriculture or grazing, or whether public access is adequately restricted.
     
  • Studies of workers exposed to raw sewage are not an adequate substitute for studies of populations exposed to sludge.

“Twenty-three months ago today, I called for the immediate suspension of all Class B sludge applications in Pennsylvania after the Centers for Disease Control determined workers may be exposed to disease-causing organisms while handling Class B sludge,” Rep. George said. “This latest study highlights the unstudied hazards in sludge and makes it imperative that the DEP suspend sludge applications while working with the sludge industry to make it safer.”

Rep. George noted that many of the regulatory faults found in the National Academies’ study have been demonstrated in Pennsylvania. Sludge is suspected in the death of an 11-year-old Clearfield County boy, who died in 1994 a week after playing in a mine site where Class B sludge was applied. The site contained no warnings of the sludge, despite federal regulations requiring them, and the DEP apologized to the boy’s mother after it had wrongly maintained that her son died of a bee sting and that the site had not been sludged.

“The DEP also was being either dishonest or ignorant when it insisted that the pathogen that killed the boy was not found in sludge,” Rep. George said. An industrial hygienist for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health refuted the DEP, saying, “I don’t know why it [the pathogen] couldn’t be” found in sludge.

The Academies’ study (Page 135) noted that, new studies of the contaminant concentrations in biosolids should include evaluation of pollutants not included in previous surveys. “Data gaps that result in the inability to assess risks need to be identified so that research can be conducted to fill those gaps,” it said.

“Most Pennsylvanians should be aware by now that the DEP is in the business of promoting sludge, not warning the public of its dangers,” Rep. George said. “However, this latest study raises the ante on DEP’s gamble on the safety of sludge. It is a gamble no Pennsylvanian should be subjected to until we know conclusively the dangers inherent in sludge.”

Rep. George said the study gives new impetus to the scores of amendments and bills he has filed over the last 20 years that would increase inspections, treatment and local control over Class B sludge, which is not treated as extensively as Class A sludge. Scientists at the CDC have recommended that all sludge be cleaned to Class A standards because of the risk that diseases could be transmitted through the Class B sludge.

“While the DEP ignores the mounting evidence and the public outcry against sludge, Senate Bill 1413 would harm hard-fought efforts by municipalities to restrict sludge,” Rep. George said. “I can’t state the case against sludge any better than the EPA microbiologist who said, ‘The worst thing about sludge is not what we know about it, but what we don’t know about it.’”

The Academies’ study, “Biosolids Applied to Land: Advancing Standards and Practices,” is available on the Internet at http://216.32.180.250/cgi-bin/linkrd?_lang=EN&lah=bc915458f3028ce9fee701a809b51516&lat=1026490259&hm___action=http%3a%2f%2fwww%2enap%2eedu.

Return to member's media index

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