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No Bio Waste In The Nicola Valley
I will begin by stating that we are primarily concerned with recent application of bio-solids or bio-waste to lands in the Nicola Valley. In specific to lands along the Sunshine Valley Road and to Dry Lake, though we understand there are other areas implicated.
We strongly believe that the Nicola Valley should not become a dumping ground for human waste. The reasons are many.
Firstly would you like such stuff dumped in your backyard? Not likely. We were driving to town last week and noticed a horrid odor. We caught up to a large truck, it had held a load of bio-waste and still stunk. Not pleasant at all.
We can’t help but wonder if the stuff is as benign as some say. If so why not spread it one the fields near where the stuff is collected. In other words keep your own crap close to home, don’t send it to us. Recently though we discovered that bio-waste or bio-solids as it is sometimes called is not as benign as we think. We never thought it was. One only need to consider what people could flush down their toilets to know otherwise. Industry, hospitals, street run off, its all goes down the same eventual drain.
There is an on-line document complied and published by Cornell University called “Case for Caution Revisited: Health and Environmental Impacts of Application of Sewage Sludge to Agricultural Lands. (http://cwmi.css.conrell.edu.case.pdf)
This case study cites many of our concerns, and we have highlighted some of its points below.
There are many new scientific findings regarding environmental and health implications in the application of sludge to fields. There are a growing number of complaints about illness, even death from exposure to Class B sludge. (Class B sludge is defined as a pathogen containing sludge that can be used as fertilizer in situations where public exposure is limited) Class B sludge makes up the bulk of these bio-solids or wastes. Our concern is how does one limit exposure to stuff put on fields when prevail winds may lift it, plowing may reintroduce it, leaching may take it down into the water table? When its dry or is spread can the particles be controlled? No they can not.
Environmentally, such applications are foolhardy since the ground once contaminated by the sludge can not be uncontaminated. The contamination can remain for decades. Studies have been done on the sludge generated by each sewage plant. We are unaware of any studies that consider long term cumulative effects. If this sludge is layered one load atop the other, over time, will it not create a cumulative, ever increasing concentration of undesirable components?
Some of the chemicals in this sludge are truly frighting; lead and cadmium. The Cornell study shows that both these elements have a negative effect on reproduction and are contained in all sewage bio-solids. Studies have also shown that cattle who feed on sludge covered fields show an accumulation of toxic metals in edible body organs, which implicate the human food chain. Grazing beef also also developed signs of copper deficiency. A recent study has also shown that sheep grazing on fields fertilized with sewage sludge develop bone tissue abnormalities.
The organic colloids found in sewage sludge facilitate a significant increase in leaching of metals into surrounding substrate and eventually groundwater.
Bio-solids can carry chemical irritants and pathogens that impact human and animal health; Bio-solids of inhalable size have been found to contain coliforms.
Some of the other chemicals found in bio-solids are; brominated flame retardants, antibacterials, wastewater treatment flocculant polymers, organotoxins, sufracants, fragrance, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. They also contain an array of organic chemicals, some of which have demonstrated toxicity. There is new information suggesting that antibiotics and pharmaceuticals have an impact on plants. Some chemicals found in bio-waste actually become more toxic as they combine with others.
Bacterial regrowth had been observed in sewage sludge, as has antibiotic resistant bacteria. This is of great concern. Environmental monitoring has shown an ever increasing prevalence of a broad range of persistent pharmaceuticals in soil and water. Studies have shown that sewage treatment plants are an important point source of antibiotic and antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment. So we ask, why transport it and spread it around?
One study even showed that PRIONS- Transmittable Spongiform Encephalitis which is highly resistant to disinfectant procedures could enter the sewage treatment facility through slaughterhouses, laboratories, meat processing and private game dressing. Is it worth the risk?
The very structure of our soil can be impacted. Even the lowly earthworm has show adverse effects where bio solids have been used.
Although sewage sludge does contain plant nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen it also contains a whole range of harmful chemicals, pathogens, and substances produced by human activity. Until we can guarantee that our waste is benign, we should avoid spreading it on our lands, into our waters and into our air.