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EPA Denies CFS' Petition to Stop the Land Application of Sewage Sludge

December 31, 2003

New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2003, EPA denied a petition requesting that the agency ban the land application of sludge. On the same day, the agency published its review of regulations governing the use and disposal of sewage sludge; a review prompted by criticism of EPA’s sludge rules by the National Research Council (NRC). In both responses, the agency has chosen not to do what is necessary to protect the food supply, public health, and the environment.

While Mad Cow Disease has just come to the nation’s attention, hundreds of cows in Georgia were poisoned and killed by sewage sludge–sludge no different than that which EPA is telling Americans it is OK to put on food crops. In June 2003, a Georgia court ruled that land application of sewage sludge–in compliance with EPA’s sludge rules–caused the deaths of 300 prized dairy cows at the Boyce-family farm in Burke County, Georgia. In their response to the petition the EPA denies the Georgia judicial ruling that sludge killed the cows. Ed Hallman, who represented the Boyce family, said, “The fact is, it was a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on the claims as made, and those claims are that the cows were damaged and the land was damaged as a result of the city’s application of sewage sludge.”

“The EPA has once again chosen to make its controversial rulings on a holiday in the hope that no one will notice it’s obfuscating,” said Laura Orlando, a spokesperson for the coalition. “But EPA’s dodging the ball when no one is looking is not going to make the facts go away: cows are dying, people are getting sick, and the food supply is being poisoned.”

EPA’s refusal to protect public health and the environment from the harm caused by the land application of sewage sludge further demonstrates that EPA is protecting corporate interests over public health and America’s food supply. EPA’s response to the petition is unfortunately logical in that it continues to protect multi-billion dollar corporate interests.

When Mad Cow Disease was discovered in a single cow in
Washington State, the federal government took action
within days. Here we have hundreds of dead cows, thousands
of sick people, several deaths, and a court ruling–and EPA
wants to do more studies. Orlando, said, “How many more kids
and cows have to die before EPA stops studying andstarts a
acting to protect public health and the environment?”

On October 7, 2003, a coalition of 73 labor, environment, and
farm groups formally petitioned the EPA to place an immediate
moratorium on the land application of sewage sludge and
ultimately to prohibit the practice. The petition to EPA offers a
detailed case regarding the dangers of land application of
sewage sludge and requests this practice be prohibited.
Signatories include the United Mine Workers of America, Clean
Water Action, the Organic Consumers Association, the Center
for Food Safety, Farm Aid, and Citizens for a Future New Hampshire.

To view the petition, click HERE.