Sludge Moratorium

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Send a message to Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Washington State Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon: You must immediately impose a state-wide emergency moratorium on approving all pending permits for land application of sewage sludge

Please use the following text as a reference when writing your message. More details about our specific objections to spreading sewage sludge on agricultural lands can be found HERE.

Impose an immediate moratorium on approval of permits for biosolids disposal on agricultural lands

Dear Ms. Bellon and Gov. Inslee,

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Here is the pertinent contact information and message text:

Governor Jay Inslee

Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Phone: 360-902-4111
Fax: 360-753-4110
Email (from his website’s contact form):

Maia Bellon, Director, Washington State Department of Ecology

Ecology Headquarters
PO Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Phone: (360) 407-7001
Fax: (360) 407-6989

Dear Ms. Bellon and Gov. Inslee,

You must immediately impose a state-wide emergency moratorium on approving all pending permits for land application of sewage sludge.

Residents who live in an area near Davenport, Washington called Mill Canyon successfully challenged a proposal to spread municipal sewage sludge (aka “biosolids”) on nearly 900 acres of nearby agricultural land uphill from where they live, garden and farm. The area they defended includes their natural watershed.

They didn’t want sewage sludge to be applied to agricultural lands in their watershed. They fought hard against it. Now, due to their efforts, sludge will not be applied to lands immediately adjacent to the canyon where they live, according to a newly approved permit, issued December 13th by the Department of Ecology.

The scale of the win for the committee is significant. The total acreage that will have sludge applied is reduced from the original 887.45 acres to 157.77 acres in the final permit. The original application indicated sewage sludge would have been applied less than one mile from Mill Creek residents’ farms, gardens and wells and less than half a mile from the source of a private spring used for drinking water that figured prominently in comments sent to the Department of Ecology citing concerns over potential contamination from the sludge. With the approved permit, the closest to the canyon any sludge will be applied is over 5 miles away.

Despite this victory, sewage sludge is still being applied to thousands of acres of agricultural soils in Washington every year. There will really be no victory until the practice of spreading sewage sludge on farmland is relegated to the dustbin of history where it belongs.

Hundreds of industrial, pharmaceutical and organic pollutant contaminants are known to be present in sewage sludge but are completely ignored by Department of Ecology biosolids regulations. The Department routinely approves sewage sludge for land application based on just two pathogen indicators and whether concentrations of only nine metals (Arsenic, Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Molybdenum, Nickel, Selenium and Zinc) are within its arbitrarily-set parameters for those metals. With respect to what is known to contaminate sewage sludge, this degree of oversight is inadequate to assure safety.

Current regulations allow permit holders to repeatedly apply biosolids (sewage sludge) to agricultural lands with no regard to accumulations of pollutants beyond the nine metals.

Numerous irregularities, omissions and incomplete responses were present in the permit application for land application of sewage sludge near Mill Canyon (Site Specific Land Application Plan for Rosman Farms Unit, a Component of Fire Mountain Farms, Inc. Application for Coverage Under the General Permit for Biosolids Management, Permit No. BT9902) which call into question the integrity of ALL such permit applications as well as Department of Ecology’s capacity and desire to adequately administer the entire state sludge program in fulfillment of its mission to “protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s environment for current and future generations.”

Therefore, I demand that Washington State Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee immediately impose a state-wide emergency moratorium on approving all pending permits for land application of sewage sludge until a thorough review of the science is completed and the findings incorporated into re-worked regulations pertaining to sewage sludge disposal in Washington state.

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TAKE ACTION: Demand Your Right to Know About Toxic Sewage Sludge in Your Food! Congress must act.

Ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor the Sewage Sludge in Food Production Consumer Notification Act

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