NC poised to test what critics call a ‘snowblower blowing garbage juice’

By Matthew Adams, madams@newsobserver.com

August 12, 2017 10:00 AM
BRICKHAVEN

Three North Carolina landfills have the green light to collect liquid that leaks from trash and spray it into the air.

The disposal method has drawn criticism from environmentalists and some neighbors, but it could become more common if the legislature overrides a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper.

The state Department of Environmental Quality approved the spraying process for the three landfills, plus a coal-ash dump in Chatham County. The permits can be used for 90 days.

The bill passed by the legislature and vetoed in June by Cooper would require the department to approve spraying at lined landfills where wastewater is prevented from escaping into the soil. The agency would also be allowed to consider the process for unlined landfills. Certain landfills would be allowed to spray without a permit.

A pumping system takes the water from where it is stored and turns it into mist that fans direct to a contained area of the landfill. The idea is that water will evaporate and the contaminated particles fall back into the landfill.

The process promises to save millions of dollars for waste management companies in disposal costs, but has drawn questions about how the spray will be contained and whether it will drift through the air into surrounding communities.

Bobbie Mendenhall, who lives with her husband less than a quarter-mile from the Brickhaven Mine where coal ash is dumped, worries that contaminants will end up in the air her family breathes.

“I just think it’s ridiculous,” Mendenhall said. “To me they are just spraying toxic stuff into the air and ground.”

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Miami’s sewage is supposed to be pumped offshore but the pipe has sprung a leak

Miami Waterkeeper has discovered an ignored outfall sewage leak in Biscayne Bay, affecting our oceans, wildlife, and the health and safety of the public. Miami Waterkeeper

By Jenny Staletovich, jstaletovich@miamiherald.com

July 31, 2017 7:39 PM

A massive ocean outfall pipe intended to dump partially treated human waste in deep water far from Miami has instead been leaking in shallow water within a mile of tony Fisher Island for at least a year, an environmental group said Monday.

A Miami Waterkeeper diver sent to investigate the leak after a citizen tipped off the group recorded cloudy sewage spewing from the underground pipe earlier this month, near schools of fish and coral.

It’s not clear how much sewage is coming from the leak, but the pipe itself is capable of pumping 143 million gallons a day. On Monday, Miami Waterkeeper filed a notice of intent to sue in 60 days that cites Miami-Dade County emails saying the pipe had not been inspected in more than a decade.

“It’s extremely disappointing that the county would fail to act on this information and to allow this leak to occur for close to a year at this point,” said Waterkeeper Executive Director Rachel Silverstein. “It’s even more disappointing to find out how long its been since these outfall pipes have been inspected.”

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It’s Time to Talk (Again) about Sewage Sludge on Farmland


Each year, millions of tons of sewage sludge is disposed of on fields in the United States. (Image: Susan A. Secretariat / Flickr)

By Laura Orlando

The "land application" of sewage sludge has been promoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1993 as the preferred method for the disposal of this by-product of municipal wastewater treatment. Millions of tons of hazardous sewage sludge have subsequently been spread on farmland and public parks in the United States. Sometimes it is bagged and sold as “organic” fertilizer and compost in garden supply stores. No matter how it is processed or how slick it is marketed as a fertilizer or soil amendment, putting sewage sludge on land is a health and environmental disaster.

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Scientists’ open letter on the dangers of biosolids

Mar 01, 2016

The land disposal of sewage sludge has resulted in significant controversy, and a resistance movement is rightfully building to this misguided policy. Quite simply, the science doesn't support the disposal of sewage sludge across the landscape. The supposed benefits are more than offset by the risks to human and environmental health.

As scientists, we have been watching the issue with increasing concern.

An unimaginably large number of chemical and biological contaminants exist in these materials, and they persist in the product up to, and after, land disposal. Scientific investigations have identified only a tiny fraction of the total contaminant load. We cannot even say with any degree of confidence what the true range of contaminant risk is from the sludge. Call it an "unknown unknown." Because of potential synergistic interactions between the contaminants in the sludge, the risks are largely unknowable.

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Puget Sound salmon do drugs, which may hurt their survival

Originally published April 6, 2018 at 6:00 am Updated April 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Researchers have found Puget Sound chinook are picking up our drugs as they swim through effluent of wastewater-treatment plants, and it may be hurting their survival.

By Lynda V. Mapes
Seattle Times environment reporter

Antidepressants. Diabetes drugs. High-blood-pressure medication. Puget Sound chinook are doing our drugs, and it may be hurting them, new research shows.

The metabolic disturbance evident in the fish from human drugs was severe enough that it may result not only in failure to thrive but early mortality and an inability to compete for food and habitat.

The response was particularly pronounced in Puget Sound chinook — a threatened species many other animals depend on for their survival, including critically endangered southern-resident killer whales.

The research built on earlier work, published in 2016, that showed juvenile Puget Sound chinook and Pacific staghorn sculpin are packing drugs including Prozac, Advil, Benadryl and Lipitor among dozens of other drugs present in tainted wastewater discharge.

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The History of Sludge for Agricultural Application

2/8/2016 11:11:00 AM
By Lidia Epp


It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in late October 2014. My husband and I were enjoying a soft shell crab sandwich at the Blue Crab Festival in West Point, Va., just a few miles from our home. Local arts and crafts were on the display, the Main Street was filled with people, cotton candy carts, draft beer stands, merry-go-round, the usual.

A lady with the Sierra Club baseball hat and a handful of flyers came over and asked if we know about the problem with biosolids.

“Biosolids?” we both asked in unison. “What’s that?”

“It’s a municipal sewage sludge and industrial waste that is applied to the farmland as a fertilizer. A company called Synagro applied for a permit to spread industrial waste on 17,000 acres in our area over the next 10 years. This practice is mostly unmonitored and the permit is very likely to be granted,” she answered, frowning.

“WHAT?!” we screamed, in unison again, and looked at each other in horror. This woman is crazy! This just can’t be!

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