The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for protecting the public and environment from contaminated solid waste and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is supposed to protect public health from dangerous pathogens and other health hazards. Yet those agencies are allowing the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to issue permits for open-air “composting” of municipal sewage sludge, including the permit Athens-Clarke County (ACC) received to compost municipal sewage sludge in the historic African American Dunlap Road/Billups Grove Church Community. Laboratory analysis of samples from this sewage sludge compost that ACC is selling to the public for home gardens, confirmed the presence of arsenic, fluoride, lead, mercury and the human pathogen, Stenotrophomonas.
Stenotrophomonas was featured on public radio’s Fresh Air and PBS’s Fontline News during the week of October 21, 2013 as one of the “nightmare bacteria” that was “resistant not just to one or two antibiotics but resistant to everything” after the sudden infection of previously healthy 11-year-old Addie Rerecich. The infection in her lungs became so severe, the doctors had to remove her infected lungs and resort to a lung transplant in a final attempt to save her life. Washington Post journalist David Hoffman attempted to interview HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius regarding the failure of her agency and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to have an established program to reduce the deaths from the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to the CDC, 2 million people in the United States are sickened every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, with at least 23,000 dying as a result. This exceeds the number of deaths in the US from the AIDS virus. Secretary Sebelius refused to be interviewed about this problem. Read the transcript of the Fresh Air interview, the Washington Post editorial and watch the Frontline news report at the following links:
Samples of accumulated dust blown from the vicinity of the sewage sludge composting operation were collected from private property in this community and revealed additional gram-negative human pathogens, Acinetobacter baumanni and Chromobacterium violaceum. Acinetobacter has been identified by the CDC as drug-resistant 'Superbug' number 2 and is known as ‘Iraqibacter’ due to its emergence in military treatment facilities during the Iraq war. When C. violaceum infects humans, it reportedly causes skin lesions, sepsis and liver abscesses that may be fatal. Additional samples from a tributary of the Oconee River that flows through the community’s property in the same vicinity, revealed another pathogen, Aeromonas hydrophilia. This pathogen also is reported to be resistant to most common antibiotics and is very toxic to many organisms, not only to fish and amphibians but also to humans. It produces toxins that cause tissue damage and in humans it causes gastroenteritis.
The water and human waste from sinks and toilets in three area hospitals are treated in ACC sewage treatment plants, where the most toxic residue – sewage sludge – is separated and sent to the ACC dump for “composting.” Not only is ACC’s sewage sludge composting operation contaminating the air in this community with a horrible stench, human pathogens and other harmful substances, it also is spreading human pathogens from these hospitals and arsenic, fluoride, lead and mercury throughout surrounding communities and the environment, including streams, in violation of the Clean Water Act. This contaminated sewage sludge compost is being spread beyond this historic African American community because is being sold to the public. The most likely source of the fluoride contamination is Mosaic’s phosphate mining waste that is added to the municipal water supply by ACC as fluoridation. See the related petition and video about this problem at:
In addition to EPA’s failure to shut down this distribution of contaminated sewage sludge compost throughout our communities, EPA previously was involved in falsification of lab data to support claims that municipal sewage sludge was safe for spreading on dairy farm pastures in Georgia as fertilizers. Additional information about those false claims is included in Judge Alaimo’s Sewage Sludge Order, at the following link:
PLEASE SIGN MY PETITION. Tell EPA Administrator McCarthy, HHS Secretary Sebelius, Congress and President Obama to Stop Allowing Contamination of Our Communities and Environment with Sewage Sludge!
Require the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Health and Human Services to do their job, enforce the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and related laws and stop allowing sewage sludge to be sold to the public and dumped on farm lands, pastures and all other places that are not approved for contaminated waste.