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Sludge opponents: 'We're not going to have it'

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 8:52 am

CONCORD, N.C. -- Opponents of proposed sewer sludge spreading permits came out in force to the Cabarrus County Commissioners meeting on Monday.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD) and its contracted partner, Synagro, are seeking permits from the state Department of Energy and Natural Resources (NCDENR) to spread sewer sludge, or “biosolids,” on farmland in Cabarrus, Rowan and Iredell counties, including several sites in Gold Hill.

Biosolids are the solid materials left behind after wastewater is treated. CMUD treats an average of 81 million gallons of wastewater every day and produces about 100,000 wet tons of sludge annually, according to the agency’s website. The sludge is applied free of charge to more than 16,000 acres of private farmland in the region.

Residents of rural Cabarrus County are in an uproar over the prospect of sludge being spread on fields near their farms and residences. They fear negative impacts to human health, the environment and land values. They also say the sludge contains industrial toxins like PCBs and pathogens.

“There are no benefits in allowing the human waste to be dumped on our farmlands, which would lead to the contamination of ground and surface water,” said Rodney Kindley, who lives on St. Stephens Church Road near the proposed spreading area.

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