Funds, political influence, and solutions are three things that sludge-warriors are typically short of. But here is a letter Mary Carwile has just sent the Va. legislature offering some short-term and long-term solutions. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VA Legislators January 9, 2008Dear Honorable Delegates and Senators:We have been following the Biosolids Expert Panel meetings and make it a point to have concerned citizens present for each of the committee meetings: Health and Environment Committee meetings as well as the Full Panel meetings. It has been quite a learning experience for all of us.We ask that you consider the following for possible legislation for the upcoming General Assembly session.1. Alternatives to Land Applications of Biosolids/Sludge:Land application of municipal sewage sludge is not a sustainable, beneficial, or safe practice. Hundreds of rural sludge-exposed neighbors have reported serious adverse health effects. Deaths have been linked to this practice. Groundwater has been impacted. Livestock ingesting hay grown on sludged land has died. The repeated sludging leads to the accumulation of persistent pollutants in a non-renewal resource, resulting in degradation of farmland. Therefore we propose the following solutions:(1) Short term: sludge should be stored in properly sited landfills or monofills; monofills are specifically designed storage pits for biosolids/sludge, they will be constructed to house sewage sludge that will be covered at all times and capped when full. It will also be designed so there is little to no leakage and will be monitored at each site same as landfills.(we are in the process of investigating this option further and will keep you abreast of new developments.) These pits will not be in close proximity to any populated area so that there would not be an odor problem or a problem with delivery.(2) Long-term: sludge should be used as a source of renewable energy through high temperature gasification. It is the perfect material for small, decentralized waste-to-energy plants. Monofills are the immediate answer to the storage of sludge until technology has been developed to utilize the constituents in sludge with quantifiable and acceptable risks. We suggest Legislators apply for an EPA or Department of Energy Grant to build a high temperature gasification pilot plant.To reduce risks to human health and the environment we urge you to modify the current sludge management rules:1. Limitations on Field Storage of Biosolids/Sludge:(1) Field Storage of biosolids/sludge shall not be permitted for longer than seven days. If sludge is stockpiled longer, pathogen testing is required.2. Minimum Biosolids/Sludge Buffers:No biosolids/sludge shall be applied (1) within 1.5 miles of any residence, business, or place where people gather on a regular basis or (2) within 3.5 to 5 miles of immune or respiratory system- compromised individuals or individuals who have suffered health problems in conjunction with the spread/disposal biosolids/sludge and (3) request from physicians that their patients should not be exposed to the constituents in biosolids/sludge.3. Sludge should not be top dressed but immediately incorporated into the soil4. Sludge should not be applied on grazing pastures.Thank you for your time and consideration of citizens input on the biosolids/sludge issue in our state.Respectfully,Mary H. Carwile, Chair
Commonwealth Coalition (CRAS)