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SLUDGE VICTIMS

May 2001 update - compiled by Helane Shields - prepared for WWW by ESRA

Subject: BEHUN, UMWA and RUSH TOWNSHIP SYNOPSIS Date: November 26, 2001
From: Len Martin

Alison Harmelin of ABC Fox 23 on 11/16/00 did an investigative report on the death of Tony Behun. The program started with this introduction: "A little boy with a dirt bike dies under suspicious circumstances. A community begins searching for answers. Six years later a trail of deception leaves many people still wondering - if there was nothing to hide - why try to bury the truth?"

September 1994 - Class B Non Exceptional Quality Biosolids, from the city of Philadelphia, PA, began being hauled to an active strip mine site in Centre County, Rush Township, Pennsylvania. By the end of September, approximately 5,600 tons of Class B Non Exceptional Quality sewage sludge had been spread at the rate of 304 tons per acre. Because of the rocky mine surface and large quantity of sludge applied, the majority of sludge remained exposed to the surface, literally inches thick.

October 13, 1994 - 11 year old Tony Behun rode his dirt bike through this freshly applied sewage sludge. Sadly no signs were posted warning Tony of the dangers that lay ahead. Even though the land owners sign contracts requiring them to restrict public access from 30 days, up to a year after each application, the EPA and DEP unfortunately fail to enforce site restrictions. Even so - if signs had been posted stating "Biosolids Utilization Area" - what child would know the meaning of Biosolids? Tony was covered head to toe with black putrid smelling material. His mother made him remove his clothes in the garage and bathe immediately. His bike was hosed down to remove the sludge that was caked on it.

October 15-17, 1994 - Tony Behun became ill; he had lesions on his arm and was treated by a doctor for flu like symptoms.

October 19, 1994 - Tony Behun illness worsened and again was taken for medical treatment. He was lifeflighted to Pittsburgh where a team of medical professionals were baffled. Tony's parents were asked by the doctors "what may have Tony gotten into that was out of the ordinary?" At the time they didn't think of sludge or Tony's exposure to it because they had been told it was perfectly safe.

October 21, 1994 - At 7:35am, 11 year old Anthony (Tony) Behun was pronounced dead.

October 1994 - A mine worker, at the site where Tony was exposed to sludge, said several co-workers became ill and they were afraid to say anything for fear of losing their jobs. He said when the trucks left the site, sewage sludge, which was caked on the tires was deposited and scattered on the Township roadway for nearly one mile. He and Decatur Township supervisor, Dave Cowfer believed that sludge was the cause of Tony's death from day one .

February 21, 1999 - Tony's father, Joe Behun sent an abstract of Tony's death to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) stating Tony rode through sludge just days prior to his death. Mr. Behun wanted the CDC's help in identifying the cause and source of his son's death.

February 1999 - Five area representatives (including township supervisors Dave Cowfer from Decatur and Jack Shannon from Rush) met with PA DEP in Hawkrun to voice their concerns regarding a proposed 522 acre sewage sludge land application site which was in close proximity to the area's water supply. During the meeting the speculation of sludge causing young Tony Behun's death was mentioned. DEP official Doug Saylor with laughter in his voice said "it was the boy's fault because he was trespassing and had no right to be there in the first place."

* PLEASE NOTE: Tony's age and full name was mentioned at this meeting *


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