Family moves on after dairy

By Rob Pavey
Staff Writer
Sunday, July 3, 2011

Michael Holahan/Staff

Bill Boyce and his wife, Carolyn, opened a restaurant behind their house after closing their long-running family dairy farm.

KEYSVILLE, Ga. --- Bill Boyce loves the smell of wood smoke and the telltale hiss of chicken grilled to perfection.

"I still don't fish, still don't hunt and still don't play golf," he said. "But I sure love to cook."

Boyce and his wife, Carolyn, opened Country Boys Cooking in 2005 after spending most of their lives operating a family dairy established by Bill's father in 1947.

Today, the dairy, its 1,400 cows and almost 700 acres are gone.

The Boyces spent years trying to advance their claims that improperly treated sewage sludge -- applied to their land by City of Augusta officials as free fertilizer -- caused the downfall of their dairy by poisoning both cattle and soil.

A $550,000 jury award in June 2003 left the family, in the words of their lawyer, "vindicated but not compensated."

The award was a fraction of the $12.5 million in damages sought by the family in a trial that was watched nationally because of its implications on federal rules governing the use of sludge as fertilizer.

The end of the trial heralded the end of an era for the Burke County family.

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Press Release: LOCAL CITIZEN GROUP RELEASES ITS OWN DOCUMENTARY FILM TO EDUCATE PUBLIC ON RISKS OF SPREADING SEWAGE SLUDGE ON FARMLAND IN NC

PRESS RELEASE

June 27, 2011

Contact: Myra Dotson, Chair
(919) 270-7534
Betty Cross, Co-Chair
(919) 929-3281

In keeping with its mission to educate the public about the practice of spreading toxic sewage sludge on farm and forest land, SEWAGE SLUDGE ACTION NETWORK (SSAN), is pleased to announce the release of a new documentary film. Created for SSAN by local film makers Don Yonavjak and Tina Motley-Pearson, the documentary aims to raise public awareness of issues involving land application of sewage sludge. Yonavjak and Motley-Pearson have brought attention to numerous environmental issues through their work in several North Carolina counties including Alamance, Chatham, Orange, and Wake.

Farmland application of toxic sewage sludge is a severe environmental insult and a largely ignored crisis that has been kept from the public for over 30 years. This devastating practice is an under recognized source of air and water pollution, food contamination, human illness and death.

Please join our efforts in educating the public about this practice by sharing our new documentary with friends, colleagues and elected officials. A download can be made from the site. Please contact us to schedule a showing and a presentation for your group, neighborhood, church, or synagogue.

E-Coli Outbreak in Europe Traced to Human Feces, NOT animal manures

The strain of Escherichia coli that has caused lethal food poisoning in northern Germany was almost certainly carried by bean sprouts. The bacteria have not been found in food, but epidemiological investigation of what victims ate point towards one German sprout farm.

Meanwhile, mounting evidence suggests the bacterial strain responsible for the outbreak has been circulating in Germany for the past decade – and in people, not cattle as initially supposed.

Food Chain Breach: Radioactive Sludge Used for Fertilizer on Farms


The revelation that natural gas drilling companies are dumping radioactive waste water into our rivers virtually unregulated was shocking enough, but now the New York Times is reporting that radioactive sludge is being used for fertilizer on our nation’s farms. You heard right: radioactive fertilizer – a direct line to the food chain.

Has the whole world gone stark raving mad? Well, if not the whole world, at least the part that handles U.S. environmental regulation.

The news that radioactive material is being used for fertilizer on the farms that produce our vegetables and milk (among other food products) should make even the most permissive pro-industry segments of the American public exceedingly uncomfortable. Radiation outside the food chain – in rivers, for example – is one level of risk, but radiation contamination in the food chain is a much more serious and insidious threat to public health.

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Sludge not 'suitable' for worms

By Matthew Haggart on Sat, 26 Mar 2011

Cromwell worm farmer Robbie Dick has commissioned laboratory tests on sewage sludge from the Queenstown Lakes District Council's Project Pure facility near Wanaka. Photo by Matthew Haggart.

Independent laboratory tests have indicated treated sewage sludge from the Queenstown Lakes District Council's Project Pure wastewater facility near Wanaka contains disease-carrying organisms and is unlikely to provide any benefits for farmland pasture.

A test of the sludge by Soil Foodweb, a global microbiology testing organisation which has a laboratory in Roxburgh, has found the biosolid waste contains no beneficial organisms which will be conducive to soil or plant life.

MS Awareness Week

March 17, 2011 | Posted in: Opinion

March 14-20, 2011 is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. Please be conscious of the prevalence of multiple sclerosis in this area and in the United States. There is no known cure or cause of MS. There are many theories and genetic predispositions. But, personally, I believe the prevalence of man-made toxins in our environment are contributing to the extensive amount of autoimmune illnesses such as MS as well as the multitude of cancers in this country.

I have been informed of sewage sludge being dumped on our farmland all over Orange County. This sludge is given free to area farmers and may include “hundreds of dangerous pathogens, toxic heavy metals, flame-retardants, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, pharmaceutical drugs and other hazardous chemicals coming from residential drains, storm water runoff, hospitals, and industrial plants” along with “antibiotic-resistant bacteria created through horizontal gene transfer.” This sludge is being dumped regularly on farmland in our county.

If you are as concerned as I am, I urge you to contact your congressman to support H.R.254, the Sewage Sludge in Food Production Consumer Notification Act. This act would prevent food and animal feed from being grown on land spread with toxic sludge.

You never know what cancer or autoimmune disease you may prevent by stopping this practice. Please help stop the spreading of this unspeakable sludge concoction on our local farmland and all over the country.

And please remember this is MS Awareness Week.

Debbie L. Nichols
Chapel Hill

Is sewage sludge safe on crops?

Guest Column:
Published: Mar 16, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Mar 15, 2011 05:43 PM

Is sewage sludge safe on crops?

by Betty Cross

A recent article in The Cary News highlighted a new dewatering device at the Cary wastewater treatment plant. The new equipment will separate liquid from solids resulting in dewatered sewage sludge, which can then be labeled as "fertilizer." There is much more to know about the composition of sewage sludge than is revealed in the story. Wastewater treatment plants were never designed to produce fertilizer. Wastewater treatment plants were designed to clean the water discharged from the plant.

Though sewage sludge contains nitrogen and phosphorous beneficial to crops, it also contains myriad other chemicals, heavy metals and pathogens harmful to the environment and human health. The Environmental Protection Agency sets limits for only nine heavy metals (out of 28) and certain pathogenic bacteria. Only a few organic chemicals are measured out of thousands in use. Because our waste streams have been channeled into centralized wastewater treatment plants, everything sent down the drain from homes, hospitals and businesses, along with stormwater runoff and landfill leachate, winds up concentrated in sewage sludge.

Two examples of chemicals harmful to humans, and for which limits in sludge have not been set, are the antibacterials triclocarban and triclosan. These endocrine disruptors are found in many consumer products and concentrate in sewage sludge. A study at Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health determined that approximately 75 percent of the ingredients washed down the drain by consumers persist during wastewater treatment and accumulate in sewage sludge. In the EPA's Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey, triclocarbon was found in 100 percent of the samples taken and triclosan was found in 94 percent. These two chemicals interfere with hormones needed for proper brain and reproductive system development in children. A recent study at Ohio State University shows that both chemicals can enter the food chain through sewage sludge used as fertilizer on agricultural fields. There is nothing in the dewatering process that removes triclocarban or triclosan from sewage sludge.

Another disturbing finding from the Water and Environment Research Foundation (WERF) is that dormant bacteria in dewatered sewage sludge can reactivate when exposed to air and water. The researchers suspect that anaerobic digestion and high centrifuge separation renders some bacteria viable but nonculturable, therefore non-measurable. Once the bacteria leave the treatment process, they can multiply exponentially. It seems there is no way to assure consumers that dewatered sewage sludge is free of pathogenic bacteria.

If shopping for compost or fertilizer this spring, whether in bags or in bulk, ask what's in it. If the answer is sewage sludge, please be aware, no one really knows what it contains or if it is safe to use. It hasn't been tested.

Cross is the co-chairwoman of the Sewage Sludge Action Network.

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