February 25, 2010 Issue


Snyder opposes sludge use

Dear Editor:

The evidence is mounting that using sewage sludge as a cheap fertilizer sickens neighbors, harms livestock, pollutes ground water and permanently degrades agricultural soil. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency continues to promote this practice by not revising its unprotective policies that govern the land application of sewage sludge.

Several EPA top sludge managers are currently defendant in a Qui Tem case. The plaintiffs in this case--two Georgia dairy farmers who lost their herds to sludge-- accuse EPA of illegally applying for and receiving government funds that were used to publish a fraudulent paper that allegedly proves that sludge did not wipe out their herds. Yet earlier a jury ruled that one of the farmer’s cattle were sickened and killed from forage grown on sludge-treated land. And last year a court ordered the US Department of Agriculture to compensate the other dairy farmer whose land was permanently poisoned by sludge.



Every day, trucks with sludge from Augusta’s Messerley Waste Water Treatment plant-- the same sludge that killed cattle and ruined land—still roll into Columbia and Jefferson counties, dumping their hazardous- waste- containing muck on hundreds of acres near rivers, on karst, with or without permits.

The Federal Clean Water Act defines sewage sludge as a pollutant. In fact sludge is not one pollutant, but a complex mixture of thousands of contaminants, many of which are hazardous and stay in the soil for a long time. Current regulations permit every industry, institution and business in Augusta, every month, to discharge 33 pounds of hazardous waste into the Messerley sewage treatment plant. These hazardous materials concentrate in the resultant sludge.

Sewage treatment plants are an inexpensive way for industries to get rid of pollutants and hazardous waste. Once they end up in the sewers, industries are no longer liable for damages those wastes might cause.

But the landowner is, and the risks are borne by the farmer who uses this material and by the neighbors who are exposed to it.

A 2002 National Academy of Sciences panel warned that there is no scientific basis for the current sludge disposal policies. The NAS panel also warned that sludge is such a complex and unpredictable mixture that it is impossible to adequately assess its risks when it is land applied.

Even with honest testing and even when all regulations are followed, sludge is and remains an unpredictable mixture of many pollutants, most of which are NOT regulated.

Take detergents: They are not regulated. Yet when they break down they form nonylphenols, chemicals that harm fish in very small amounts. Every month we learn of a new sludge incident. For example in Georgia’s neighboring state, Alabama, 5,000 acres, as well as groundwater, were permanently contaminated by sludge containing high levels of toxic perfluorochemicals. PFCs are not regulated. EPA knew about this contamination for 12 years but ignored it until outraged citizens filed a class action suit.

Top managers at EPA’s Office of Water collaborate with state agencies and the sludge industry. Their mission is not to protect human health or the environment, but to protect those who profit from sludge spreading.

All over the country EPA, working with the powerful sludge lobby, ignores or covers up sludge incidents, just as it did in Georgia.

Scientists who document harm caused by sludge are discredited or silenced, so that EPA and the industry can continue to claim that sludge spreading is safe, beneficial and sustainable. To perpetuate this myth, industry-friendly scientists and consultants hired by the sludge lobby debunk honest research that documents the harm caused by this practice.

For more information, visit sludgefacts.org.

Caroline Snyder
Sandwich, NH

Gordy looks for silver linings

Dear Editor:

My heart goes out to the many family breadwinners in Jefferson County and across the nation who can’t find a job.

However, as warmer weather nears, a silver lining is on the horizon, at least in west Georgia.

The city of West Point, which used to be know as a textile center (remember West Point-Pepperell?) is now the home of a brand new Kia vehicle plant owned by a South Korean enterprise.

Several weeks ago the first Kia vehicle (an SUV) rolled off the assembly line. It was quickly purchased by a wealthy Georgian who owns the Chic-Filet fast food chain. He is a devout Christian. You don’t see any Chic-Filet restaurants open on Sundays.

Speaking of textile plants, there is even a silver lining to the fact that it is difficult to find a textile plant in the USA. Remember the Brown Lung disease that affected thousands of textile workers in this country?

It is my considered opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court decision permitting abortion on demand as a means of birth control is one of the root causes of the economic quagmire in which we now find ourselves.

How is this so? Simply put, we have murdered persons who would have grown up to be doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers and members of a myriad other professions. All would have been taxpayers.

I am a Christian and believe we should leave who…yes, a fetus is a human in the womb starting at conception…lives and dies up to God!

The Bible says God knew us even when we were in our mothers’ womb.

Some years ago, I read a book entitled At Ease And Other Stories I Tell My Friends, an autobiography by one of the greatest presidents we’ve ever had.

In it, Ike tells of his greatest regret…having appointed Earl Warren as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

One of my greatest regrets is having voted for Jimmy Carter, because he was a “Georgia Boy.”

Anyway, getting back to my theme of silver linings, despite what was contained in one of Pres. Carter’s speeches that America had seen its best days, I beg to refute that.

Despite our economic mess caused not necessarily by Wall Street but by thieves, for example, the Enron scandal and notably a billionaire who stole most of his wealth instead of earning it by hard work! He’s now in the pen.

And, oh yes, let’s not forget another prime cause of our economic quicksand: Amateurs in Washington who forget what they said yesterday and say the opposite the next day.

No, Mr. Carter, better days are coming, in fact, they have already begun, starting with Virginia, New Jersey and now Massachusetts. Hello, Sen. Brown!

Spring is coming and so is November!


Bob Gordy

Clements suggests a candidate

Dear Editor:

Just as I never understood why any sane person would want to be president of this country at the end of Bush’s eight years, (Obama/McCain) with few exceptions I never understood why any rational person would aspire to be a teacher in the out of control public school system’s classrooms.

Fortunately there are some public schools that do not fit the national disaster picture. We are fortunate that Jefferson County does not reflect the national picture as a whole. When replacing retiring JCSS Carl Bethune no one should come ahead of JCHS principal Molly Howard. Problem is whoever replaces Molly should be someone who has trained under Molly for several years but with Molly in the top job she will be in position to influence the entire school system.

Do not take this as my supporting the “New superintendent or Molly’s replacement must live in Jefferson County” static that I often hear. Carl has proven that is not a reasonable requirement.

You sometimes have to go outside to get the right person for the job. We are not faced with that problem. Molly is the right person. Homegrown and proud of it.

Robert Clements


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