wastewater plant, out on the highway, with a load of sludge, with no cover over it. Dr. Lewis believes that allows particles of sludge to blow off and put surrounding motorists' health at risk.
Dr. Lewist "Any cars traveling behind that truck would take the contaminated materials into the ventilation system of their vehicles. So, they would be breathing it."
So we went to talk to Teresa Battenfield at the city of Houston's Public Works Department.
Anna: "Judging by the fact that there are trucks out there that are not covered."
Battenfield: "I don't know which trucks you've seen that are not covered."
Anna: "The ones coming from your waste water treatment plants."
Battenfield: "Well, why don't you give me information why we need to do that and I would gladly have the trucks covered."
In fact, state and federal laws do not require it, but the EPA's own recommendations for managing Class B sludge say the product ".. must be transported to the storage site in vehicles that are appropriate.." and that "trucks must be covered."
"The material is not blowing off of those trucks I don't think(s) there's any evidence that there is," said Synagro's Ross Patten
Ross Patten heads Synagro, the company Houston hired to haul its Class B sludge. Contrary to the claims, he says it is a product that has been proven safe by the government, and other scientists.
Ross Patten: "I do not believe, from all the information that I've looked at, that there's any potential harm to anybody."
But, what about those recommendations from the EPA?
Patton. "In the state of Texas, and you know it very, very well, it is not a requirement in the state of Texas to put tarps on trucks."
Anna: "Could it be maybe the right thing to do in this case?"
Patton: "(long pause) If our customer wants to cover the trucks, we certainly would cover the trucks."
His customer is the city of Houston and city officials tell us they will now be taking a look at whether to require those trucks be covered in the next hauling contract.
By the way, about one-third of the city's wastes are turned into sludge, the other two-thirds are turned into a fertilizer product.
If you have got a problem or a tip call our 11 News Defenders Investigative Hotline at 1-888-FOR-K-H-0-U.
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