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. . .takin’ the “BS” out’a the BlogoSphere (and MSM), one shovel-full at a time

Multiple Sclerosis and BS

Bloged in Miscellaneous by Gutter Grunt Monday January 14, 2008 at about 8:46 am

Maureen has sent around a link to an epidemiological survey of residents living near BS-farms in Ohio. It was done by Khuder et al. and reported last year in Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health 62:5, 2007. A .pdf version is here: Link

This study is pretty poorly done and the authors acknowledge a lot of its shortcomings, but the flaws tend to understate the findings. It’s an important report and I’ll be analyzing it in more detail over at the Mother Site later this week. I raise it here as another example of how the BSers lie when they claim there is no evidence that BS is not safe.

Almost hidden in Khuder’s data (Table 3) is an observation I found shocking. Of 437 exposed people (living within 1 mile of a BS field) who responded to the survey, 5 reported multiple sclerosis. None of 176 unexposed responders reported MS.

The incidence of MS in the exposed group is 14x higher than the normal US population.

This situation is reminiscent of a situation in the late 1980’s when Bob Waters, a former SF 49ers quarterback came down with another neurological disease, ALS - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Waters found out that two of his teammates from the 49ers 1964 season also had ALS. The prevalence of ALS in the population is far, far less than MS (50 per 100,000 v. 1171 per 100,000), and the odds of three members of a group of about 70 people having ALS are “astronomically small.” The only suspicious factor anyone could find was that 49ers practice field had been sludged with Milorganite.

Of course Milorganite is produced by Milwaukee. So on Feb. 18, 1987 Milwaukee’s mayor, Henry Maier, obviously fearing a lawsuit, authorized an investigation of Waters’ claims. The investigation team was led by Henry Goldberg, medical director of the Milwaukee Industrial Clinics. THE NEXT DAY Goldberg held a press conference to announce their conclusions that Miloganite was not the problem.

You can draw your own conclusions. Mine is that someone needs to step in here and carry out proper, long-term studies to see if neurological diseases and other diseases/disorders are being caused, spread, or exacerbated by BS. And if anybody fakes any data or intentionally mis-characterizes data and thereby contributes in any way to another person contracting a disease from BS, then the person faking the data ought to do some hard time in lock-up.

– GG

Short and long-term solutions.

Bloged in Strategies, Technology by Gutter Grunt Thursday January 10, 2008 at about 9:00 am


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 humhaven10@aol.com.

VA Legislators January 9, 2008
Dear 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 soil
4. 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.
Mary H. Carwile, Chair
Commonwealth Coalition (CRAS)

Wyatt v Synagro — Post #1

Bloged in Litigation, Virginia, Sludge, Environment -- Humans Screwing Nature by Gutter Grunt Wednesday January 9, 2008 at about 10:01 pm


Wyatt v Synagro is the negligence/nuisance suit currently before the Surry County Circuit Court. For a number of reasons this appears to me to be the most significant BS case that has been prosecuted in Va. — ever. For one thing, it’s the only case in which the victims — the sludgees — have been on the offense.

Barbara Rubin has a page on her website where you can download the court documents in .pdf format. Link. These documents are a goldmine of legal arguments for anyone contemplating taking Synagro on in other counties in Va. Thanks, Barbara, for making them available.

Here is a quick and dirty summary of the case so far.

Sandra Wyatt and 5 other plaintiffs sued Synagro and Sussex-Surry LLC for negligence, private nuisance, trespass, and “punitive damages.” Sussex-Surry owns the land that Synagro is spraying the BS on. It’s timberland next to the plaintiffs’ homes and the BS is being sprayed into the trees.

James Slaughter is the main lawyer for the BSer’s. He’s the same lawyer who sued Appomattox County in 2005. He seems to be the main sludge-suit in Va. I have seen at least one self-laudatory article sort of promoting himself as “The Va BS King” or something. I would venture a guess that he has made as much money pushing BS onto the rural counties as anyone else in the state. More on Slaughter and his firm in a later post.

The plaintiffs are represented by H. Bishop Dansby and Chris Nidel, who, at the moment, are kicking Slaughter’s butt. Read on.

The lawsuit was filed in the state circuit court for Surry County, Va. but Synagro removed it to the federal court in Richmond. Slaughter did this probably to get the case out of Surry, which is where the jury will come from. Synagro knowis that any “Surry jury” is going to have a few members who have smelled this BS. (It will be an interesting question: must the judge exclude from the jury people who think Synagro’s BS stinks? Generally, a person with first hand information about a case is disqualified if the information would influence them in any way.)

The federal judge, Henry Hudson, was having none of Slaughter’s federal case theory. The Wyatts ask Judge Hudson to move the case back to state court and the judge was more than willing to comply. But he went farther, his opinion was very supportive of the Wyatt’s case. So Slaughter shot himself in the foot trying to remove the case to federal court. Not only did it not work, but already he has one judge saying there is a case here. Judge Hudson’s opinion was then used against Synagro in the state case.

Back at the ranch, in the state court, Synagro tried to get the judge to toss the case out. Judge ?? (I can’t read his signature) wrote a very clear opinion (excepting his signature) basically telling Synagro to get ready for trial. The judge did punt one of the plaintiffs, the Wyatt’s daughter, on the grounds that because she did not live on the property, she had no rights in the suit, even though she is exposed to the BS twice a day when she feeds her horses on her folks’ property. I’m not sure this was the right decision because the daughter could still have a cause under the negligence claim regardless of where she lives. But I can’t imagine not having the daughter in the case would have much impact on the plaintiffs’ case unless her injuries are more evident or easier to prove than the other plaintiffs’.

The judge also bounced the Wyatt’s trespass count. This is probably of no significance either since the Wyatts would have had to prove almost the same facts to prevail at trespass as they will have to prove for private nuisance. A jury would lump them together anyway when awarding damages.

Finally, the judge threw out the count for punitive damages on the basis that punitive damages is not properly pled as a count. Punitive damages belongs in the “prayer for relief” which is where you tote up the $$ you want to recover from the defendants. The plaintiffs did have punitive damages in their prayer, so removing it as a count has absolutely no effect on the case. The judge was just trying to tidy up the pleadings a bit. He knows that whomever wins the case, there will be an appeal.

In short, the Wyatts & Co. are off to a very good start. After discovery is complete, Synagro will try again to get the case bounced out on summary judgment. They will argue that there’s not enough evidence for the Wyatts to prove their case to a jury. The fight will be over there is enough evidence to link the plaintiffs’ injuries to the BS hanging in the trees next to their house. My guess is that Synagro’s chances of succeeding in summary judgment are even less than their chances were of removing the case into federal court.

Synagro may not let the case go long enough to get to summary judgment. I look for Synagro to settle this pretty quickly. Slaughter has already got 2 strong judicial opinions upholding the right to sue BSers for nuisance in state court. The last thing Synagro wants is for a jury to hear this case. Historically, when BSers are defendants, they are quick to buy out plaintiffs rather than risk a jury decision. But a larger problem for Synagro is that the Wyatts’ lawyers have done such a great job presenting the legal arguments in their motions and briefs that other potential plaintiffs across the state will have a lot of the hard work already done for them.

A lot more on this case to come. I’m still reading all the documents filed so far.

– GG

2008 — a hot year for Va. BS litigation?

Bloged in Litigation, Virginia, Environment -- Humans Screwing Nature by Gutter Grunt Tuesday January 8, 2008 at about 9:47 am

Maybe; maybe not.

As far as I know, there is now only one BS case active in Va. That’s the Wyatt suit against Synagro for negligence and nuisance over in Surry County. You can get a .pdf of the complaint from the Loudounnats site — here.

This could be a very significant case, and it will likely get rolling in the next few weeks. I believe Barbara is organizing all the filings for publishing on the Loudounnats.org. I’ll let you know when they are available, and I’ll try and follow that case on this blog. (BTW the Loudounnats site has a helpful (slightly out of date) summary of BS litigation across the country. Link.)

Negligence/nuisance have never, so far as I know, been raised as causes of action against the BS-ers in Va. So this case could have a very significant impact.

Hopefully some county in Va. will acquire the temerity to stand up to the state and the BS-ers a assert their right to ban land application of sludge under the Federal Clean Water Act, 33 USC section 1345(e). As noted in Spew #12 over at the Mother Site, Steve Martin and I tried to get Amherst County to step up to the plate and protect their citizens from BS, but we were met with stone, cold silence, aka cowardice, from the Board of Supervisors. The legal costs would amount to about $2 per resident, and a favorable outcome would virtually solve the BS problem for all rural counties.

But unless citizens are willing to front up and force their elected officials to take some action, the chance of them doing so on their own is nil. In the mean time, let’s hope the Wyatt’s action opens some doors into the courtrooms for the poor people who have to live next to a BS-farm.

- GG

The Sludgers’ Basic Lie

Bloged in Sludge, Environment -- Humans Screwing Nature by Gutter Grunt Saturday January 5, 2008 at about 3:18 pm


The sludgers and the government bureaucrats who push BS (i.e., US EPA and Virginia Department of Health mules) invariably argue that BS applied to land is safe because there is no evidence that it is not safe. This is not just twisted logic, it is a means of lying.

The major problem with current BS practices is that it is not possible to be certain that each load of sludge is safe. When the sludgers and b’crats make an unequivocal statement that the stuff is safe, they are flat out lying because no one knows whether each load is free from toxic levels of metals, organics, radioactive materials, and harmful biologicals such as endotoxins, prions, and viruses.

What is more frightening is that they repeat these lies to courts and the courts base their decisions on the lies. Then the lies become established as part of our jurisprudence. Example: US Federal District Court Judge Moon’s decision in O’Brien v. Appomattox County.

I recently ran across a letter Prof David Pimentel of Cornell University sent to the state b’crats in Maine summarizing experiments he carried out with BS generated in Syracuse and Cayuga Heights, NY. In a first set of experiments they found sludge from Syracuse had an effect on insects as if it were an insecticide, but the Cayuga sludge was OK. Then they retested the sludges.

“. . .subsequent experiments using sludge from the same locations, we found the crops and insects responded similar to the first experiments. What was unexpected was that the crop plants did poorly and the insects were negatively influenced by some unknown chemical(s) in the Cayuga Heights sludge. We consulted a toxicologist but did not have sufficient funds to conduct an investigation of the chemical pollutants that were NOT supposed to be in Cayuga Heights sludge. This illustrates the problem with sludges-one batch may be alright for agricultural use but the next may not be. Needless to say we never ate any of the crops produced on fields with either the Syracuse sludge or the Cayuga Heights sludge.

“We also fed earthworms on Syracuse sludge and then fed Japanese quail the contaminated earthworms. We found that the earthworms concentrated one of the heavy metals, cadmium. This metal was found to be toxic to the quail. It is quite possible that this and other heavy metals commonly found in sludge will be toxic to other bird species that feed on contaminated earthworms.” [Bold added]

Here’s the link

Prof. Pimentel’s strongest point is, I believe, understated. The batch to batch inconsistency and uncertainty is the major problem with current BS practices. Unless each and every container full of BS is thoroughly tested, it’s a crap-shoot — literally.


Is the end of the sludge-wars in sight?

Bloged in Technology by Gutter Grunt Tuesday January 1, 2008 at about 9:36 am


Just five hours into 2008, the first post of any new year has to be positive, and in this field the only positive news comes in the form of technology.

Maureen has just sent out an article from Dunedin, Fl, where they hope to change BS into watts or mpgs using “plasma arc flow” technology from a company named MagneGas. Their website: http://www.magnegas.com/technology.html

This is eventually what every community will be doing with the malordorus BS we all produce but despise so much, and one day, soon, BS will become a valuable source of energy for cars and electric generating stations. I mean soon. 2010. Maybe sooner.

As a patent lawyer I see a lot of this technology now in development.The “plasma arc flow” technology Dunedin is looking at is an “underliquid electric arc” in which a huge DC current is passed between a tungsten electrode and a carbon (coal) electrode submerged in the BS slurry. If you go to pat2pdf.org and enter the patent number 6926872, you can get a fairly readable discussion of the technology Duneden is looking at and the technical hurdles faced by inventors in this field. I would warn you tho’ that patents represent the apex of legalese-babble-idiocy, and you will find sentences like the following:

“As a matter of consistency only, the cathode, as defined and used in the specification herein, will sometimes be referred to as the first electrode and accordingly, the second electrode will sometimes be referred to as the second electrode.” (This is not a joke; it’s typical.)

The technical problems standing between BS and gas you can use to power a car are not insurmountable, although a number of companies have gone bust trying. Basically, you have to organize a couple of electrodes that will survive temperatures of 10,000 F. without burning out. Because they are submersible, there are all sorts of problems sealing the electrodes that must be resolved, too. But the solutions are coming, and when they get here, our fight with the BS haulers and sludge-farmers will be over because there won’t be any BS haulers or sludge-farmers.

– GG

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