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SLUDGE VICTIMS

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

The Story of Someone That Does Not Existcontinued from previous page


have a tendency to have very mild allergies in the spring when the grasses grow, but nothing close to this. I began to lose weight for no reason this time.

Up until now, we had thought that we were 'safe' for a few years, since sludge may only be dumped every 3 years. Then we got a notice in the mail that the farmer across the street was applying to dump sludge (we were considered to be a directly abutting property this time). We banded with the 6 surrounding neighboring homes to protest this at the Board meeting. The farm in question was only a bit over 1 00 acres of land. Our homes were either directly abutting it, or separated by the road with creeks connecting the properties.

The Board again could have cared less about the neighbors and passers by who told of their illnesses. There were several people who complained of feeling ill or being unable to breathe when driving by the farm. Others were affected, but afraid to come forward because the 'powers that be' wanted the sludge. The County Supervisors were so set on allowing sludge that they even turned a deaf ear to the 84-year-old neighbor and her daughter that would be directly adjoining the sludged fields.

I wrote to Al Rubin (EPA), Anne Peterson (State Health Commissioner), countless state and national representatives, the sludge companies and each individual board member. I wanted to see a complete list of the constituents that could possibly be found in the sludge. My doctor had requested this so that they would know what I was exposed to. All I ever received were cold, distant letters from Anne Peterson stating that 'no one has ever gotten sick.' Therefore, I did not exist. The Health Departments pro-sludge cheerleader, Desiree Lopasic, did give me a list of heavy metals tested for in the Alexandria sludge. No pathogens, no other follow up. She told me it was 'psychosomatic'.

Not one board member ever wrote me back. No one from the EPA wrote me back. Of course, if they did, perhaps this would mean that they would be admitting that I exist. Bio Gro never wrote back. In phone calls to them I was called a 'trouble maker' and told to just keep my mouth shut. Calls to Recyc Systems were equally frustrating. I was told to 'prove it" when I said that I was sick. I told them to prove that I was not.

Whenever I would ask for scientific evidence proving the safety of sludge, all that I would receive was a packet of pro-sludge documents from VA Tech, the dumping companies, the Health Department and excerpts from the EPA 503 sludge rules. Everything was a case of the fox guarding the hen house. VA Tech studies were funded by the sludge dumpers and based on controlled field-tests to show how 'economical' it was to use sludge. Nothing scientific was ever presented to me. Nothing proving the safety to human, animal or environmental health was ever presented to me.

In March, my husband came home from work and upon entering the house said 'that's it, we are moving'. I was particularly dumbstruck due to the fact that I had just come home with brand new wallpaper for the dining room walls. We had only lived at the farm for 3 years. We had no equity and were just to the point where we were not living paycheck to paycheck. I tried to convince him otherwise, but he stuck to his decision. He could not take the pressure of going to meetings and being overwhelmed with sludge and watching me get sicker and sicker.

We began looking for a new place. The choice came down to Rappahannock and Shenandoah counties. Rappahannock had a ban in place and Shenandoah had a moratorium on sludge dumping until it could be proven safe. We wanted to stay close enough for my husband to commute to work. I managed to stave off the dumping companies and the farmers from further dumping by sending them letters stating that if we suffered any more damages we would consider it a 'personal attack' and take further action.

This did nothing for my health, though, which continued to plummet downhill. As we were leaving at the end of June, I came down with a fever. I had horrible chills for a couple of days. I would wake up soaking wet. I had no appetite. By this time I was approximately 84 pounds or


VIRGINIA - CULPEPER - VICTIM SUFFERS SEVERE HEADACHES, CONSTANT COUGH, NAGGING FATIGUE, NAUSEA, SEVERE DIARRHEA, RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS INCLUDING CHOKING, INABILITY TO BREATH. STATE AND FEDERAL HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY "NO DOCUMENTED CASES OF ILLNESS (FROM SLUDGE)"... YOUR SYMPTOMS ARE "PSYCHOSOMATIC"

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