Sewage Sludge Action Network Reorganizes

The Sewage Sludge Action Network (SSAN) has announced that it has reorganized as a project of The Center for Community Alternatives, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in North Carolina.

SSAN is comprised of residents of Alamance, Orange and Chatham counties, and says it will continue to focus on educating the public about the risks to public health and the environment from the spreading of sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants on farmlands.

Each year hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage sludge are spread on farmlands in over 70 counties in North Carolina. Farmers are given sludge free of charge to be used as a fertilizer and are not informed about the vast amounts of unregulated, untested toxic chemicals that concentrate in sewage sludge.

Betty Cross, SSAN Co-Chair, said that antibacterials found in sewage sludge are a special concern. “Triclosan and triclocarban are endocrine disrupting chemicals that concentrate in sewage sludge. These two chemicals interfere with hormones needed for proper brain and reproductive system development in children. Studies show that both chemicals can enter the food chain through the use of sewage sludge used as fertilizer on agricultural fields.”

SSAN is working at a grassroots level on a number of projects that include:

  • Developing a farmer education program on the risks of using sewage sludge as a fertilizer;
  • Increasing buffers on sludge spreading near schools, day care centers and other public places;
  • Protecting drinking water supplies by removing sludge fields permitted in critical watersheds;
  • Advocating for stricter enforcement and regulation of sludge spreading;
  • Partnering with other organizations dedicated to protecting NC’s surface waters, drinking water supplies, farmlands, and public health; and,
  • Producing a local documentary that includes interviews with local residents about their opinions and experiences with sewage sludge.

"The mission of SSAN is to educate the public about the practice of spreading toxic sewage sludge on farm and forest land. In addition to poisoning farmland, sewage sludge contaminates groundwater, surface waters, the air we breathe and the food we eat,” said Myra Dotson, Chair of SSAN. “For 30-years this practice, disguised as “free fertilizer,” has turned farmland into toxic waste dumps, and has been largely unknown to citizens. The public has a right to know.”

The next SSAN meeting will take place on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Orange Grove Volunteer Fire Department, 6800 Orange Grove Rd., Hillsborough, NC 27278. Interested members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend.

For more information contact Myra Dotson, Chair, SSAN at (919)270-7534 or mdotson at