Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Dumping on Dixie" Biosolids in Harpersville, Alabama Courtesy of Midwestern Based Merrill Brothers

We have covered the issue of the biosolid myth and Alabama's nasty practices with human and industrial waste (aka sewer sludge) twice before and thanks to Merrill Brothers stealthily moving into Harpersville, Alabama (Shelby County) in January of this year under the guise of a starting up a "hunting lodge" we are covering it again. 

They have entered the area under dishonest and false pretenses which should always raise suspicion no matter what issue is at hand--deception equals something to hide.
Note the Christian symbol on the upper right hand side of the sign. Does this imply that Jesus approves?
This facility is located at 201 Tanyard Road, off of Highway 76 (Klein Rd.) in Harpersville on what was formerly the farmland of Dixon Kidd. According to sources in the area, allegedly there was a confrontation of sorts over the summer from concerned parties inquiring about the transportation of raw sewage into the Harpersville area that ended with a firearm drawn and a demand to "get off my land."

Wouldn't it have been easier to just answer the questions about what is going on at the "hunting lodge" rather than to resort to such aggressive measures when being questioned about their activities? Maybe we're being naive, but if you are doing business of a controversial nature, as sewer sludge is, wouldn't a company try to at least exhibit some semblance of transparency and cooperation towards a community they have set themselves up in?

Their mission statement seems to be in conflict with the above attitude and we'd like to ask them if all the Christian banner waving is somehow supposed to give off the appearance of they cannot possibly be doing anything wrong because they're such good Christians. That's the same thing the Catholic church wanted us all to believe and look how that turned out.

There was a previous Region 4 EPA investigation of Merrill Brothers and the City of Childersburg, whom they had contracted with to receive their municipal sewer waste that ended with the EPA "finding no alarming issues." 

That is the same stance the EPA has held throughout their implementation of sewer sludge as "fertilizer." 

They have claimed all along this is a safe process and cases that have ended in just the opposite have been actively campaigned against by the EPA & WEF to be made to effectively "disappear" in the news.
(See R sidebar "From Sewer to Farm to Your Fork." WEF presents itself as the "water people" with visions of clean water, cascading waterfalls, blue skies and beautiful plants, but who they really are is a front group for the sludge industry. There's a reason ethically challenged PR firms and their advertising connections get paid the big bucks.)

Our previous postings cover the story of Synagro (the titan of sewer sludge) and North Alabama. South Alabama has also had it's share of controversy on this subject and it is the headquarters of Merrill Brothers Alabama operations. In the Synagro cases, the EPA was dead wrong on the safety of this practice that was ushered into the area by Synagro PR man Stephen Bradley (yep, there he is representing toxic terror once again) and Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Sparks. Merrill Brothers would have had to gotten permission to enter the state in a similar fashion.

Was Sparks dumb enough to allow this to happen a second time after what happened with Synagro?

We've just elected a new Commissioner of Agriculture, John McMillan, and it's time to start asking questions of him and if he is going to allow this dirty business to continue.

Sewer sludge is under the oversight of the EPA under 503:
Part 503.9(t) Pollutant is an organic substance, an inorganic substance, a combination of organic and inorganic substances, or a pathogenic organism that, after discharge and upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation, or assimilation into an organism either directly from the environment or indirectly by ingestion through the food chain, could, on the basis of information available to the Administrator of EPA, cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions (including malfunction in reproduction), or physical deformations in either organisms (humans) or offspring (children) of the organisms.
But it's "safe" because it has been "treated" right? The EPA tells us "it's safe" so we should just blindly accept that as fact? Can you name one instance where the government has ever gotten it right on issues of this nature in the past?

Full timeline of sewer sludge issue from Sludge News.
Two important and somewhat recent events;
October 2003, 73 farm, labor, and environmental organizations opposed to the land application of sewage sludge signed a petition to EPA demanding that the practice be stopped. On Christmas Eve, December 24, 2003, they received an answer from EPA: there will be no changes.

In 2008, a hearing before the Congressional EPW Committee, that is chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer, was scheduled on sewer sludge that was abruptly canceled due to ongoing litigation in Georgia;
WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats abruptly canceled a hearing Thursday on using sewage sludge as farm fertilizer after learning that two witnesses from Georgia had cited their upcoming testimony at the hearing in trying to win a settlement in a lawsuit.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had been scheduled to hear testimony from an Augusta-area farmer and a former federal scientist who have fought the Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Georgia over the safety of using sludge on farm fields.

The farmer, Andy McElmurray, and the scientist, David Lewis, are suing the University of Georgia Research Foundation and others, alleging that UGA research was part of a scheme by the EPA to justify a federal policy allowing the continued use of sludge as fertilizer.

A spokeswoman for the committee said the hearing was canceled out of concern the private litigation would distract from the main issue of sludge safety. She said Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., plans to reschedule the session.
It has never been rescheduled. Why is that Senator Boxer?

Alabama regulations are non-existent and the sludge industry is taking full advantage of this egregious lapse by the State of Alabama. 

The following document spells out all 50 states regulations. Alabama appears on pages 4-7:
Sludge Regulations Alabama

In the last election cycle for local amendments in Colbert County, Alabama this appeared on the ballot:
Relating to Colbert County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that treated human sewage biosolids may not be applied to land as a fertilizer or soil amendment, except for sewage biosolids produced by a publicly owned utility in Colbert County.(Proposed by Act 2009-390) 
Out of 10,937 votes cast, 75.8% voted in favor of this amendment to end this process of applying sewer sludge to any lands in Colbert County by any outside company, but it did not go far enough and left open the possibility of Colbert County getting in on the sludge act itself.

In Lawrence County, Alabama they took it a step further with an amendment that read as follows:
Relating to Lawrence County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that treated human sewage biosolids may not be applied to land as a fertilizer or soil amendment. (Proposed by Act 2009-370) 
Out of 8,422 votes cast, this one passed with 77.5% in favor of ending any future sludge applications.

Lawrence probably voted on a harder line because of what happened in the eastern section of the county that residents referred to as "Shit Road." Moulton Mayor Alexander was duped by ADEM & the EPA and he made no bones about his displeasure in 2009 news articles:
Much of the sludge from DU and Decatur industries ends up at Morris Farms, a Hillsboro landfill. Recent ADEM tests concluded the landfill’s leachate — liquid runoff from the waste — has PFOA levels of 91.6 ppb, more than 200 times the EPA drinking water advisory. The PFOS levels are about 275 times the drinking water advisory .
For one day, Alexander, the Moulton mayor, banned Morris Farms from dumping its leachate into the Moulton wastewater treatment plant. ADEM officials sat him down, however, and he reversed his position.
“ADEM said we were already contaminated, and it was too late to do anything about it,” Alexander said Friday. “Nobody notified us of the danger until it was too late. We were already contaminated.”
The effluent from Moulton’s wastewater treatment plant, according to recent ADEM tests, includes 1.7 parts per billion of PFOA and 0.7 ppb of PFOS. That’s about four times the EPA advisory on the chemicals.
Sludge at the bottom of the pond into which the effluent runs — the stuff children wade through on Crow Branch — weighs in at 83 parts per billion, more than 200 times the drinking water limit.
The levels of PFOS, the more dangerous chemical, in the sludge is a remarkable 941 parts per billion, almost 5,000 times the drinking water advisory.
Alexander said Friday ADEM had not shown him these numbers.
He said he is very worried about residents having health problems as a result of contact with Crow Branch, but he has not warned them about the risk.
“EPA and ADEM dropped the ball,” he said, “and as a result we are contaminated.”
But he continued accepting leachate from Morris Farms, did not warn residents about the potential health risk probably because of political reasons, and said the "best remedy would be to sue those responsible" when he should have stopped all transports completely. We understand that suing is the only remedy left after the fact, and hopefully it will serve as a future deterrent, but you cannot unring a bell--the damage has been done and it will continue to happen if the sludge industry wins the PR war on this subject.

The claims of safety and a cheap, natural "organic" fertilizer leave out a few key facts:
  • Certain bacteria are thermoresistant. Outbreaks of the common  E-coli strain 0157, which is prevalent in sewer sludge, is the most common cause of food borne illnesses.
  • Other pathogenic agents from "treated" sewer sludge can lie dormant in soils for years and will not disappear in the 30-60 day time frame that the EPA "magic" claims.
  • Heavy metals and organic compounds are found in elevated numbers in sewer sludge even after "treatment."
  • It is common for industries to flush their wastes into municipal sewer systems and unless the EPA is willing to position a sewer sentry at every discharge point into municipal sewers, it is impossible to know what is going into the systems.
EPA testing is limited and does not cover all of the ingredients of "sewer sludge soup" and acceptable levels of human exposure have been consistently lowered over the years.

Now, we ask you if this is the kind of product you would like to have your food grown in?
The "friendly and beneficial" fertilizer before "dewatering."
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  1. WTF????
    Who the hell let this in????

  2. They have dumped this shit on my neighbor's land and it is the most God awful smell I have ever smelled!!! I'm worried that a big rain will carry it over into my fields or worse-my well water.
    How do we run these sobs off??????? Mayor Perkins we need your help!!!!

  3. I am getting sick and tired of an area that my family has been in for over a hundred years being turned into a dump and a pit!!!!!!
    If you live in Helena, Chelsea, Westover and Columbiana it's an entirely different story because that's where the high and mighty live. It's disgusting the way these professed Christians are treating those who are less economically well-off than they are!!!
    Damn hypocrites!!!!

  4. No Quarry in VincentNovember 9, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    The people in the Grand Bay area near Mobile are enduring misery from their nearby bio-solid operation. They believe that a high rate of nose sores, staph infections, headaches and sinus infections are due to the bio-solids being spread near their homes. The county health officer has also expressed concerns over the practice of bio-solid disposal.

  5. Not any tulips I'd want to tiptoe through.

  6. What about the food grown with this stuff?

    Detroit Bribery case: "A video, three months after the airport meeting, was also played in court Friday. The video showed Rayford Jackson and Synagro Vice President James Rosendall discussing the bribes and also talking about expenses after council accepted the contract." http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/22377415/detail.html

  7. Sewage treatment plant and equipment- Delhi, India based manufacturer and supplier of sewage water treatment plant and sewage waste water treatment.

  8. I guess we have "advertisers" now.
    (see above comment)

    From LG website:
    "We deals in the field of water and waste water treatment plants ,material handling , Pneumatic conveying, Crushing, Screening and grinding for Industries like Cement , Fertilizers, Power , Steel, Pulp and Paper, Sugar and Rubber etc."

    "We shall feel honored if you send us your enquiries pertaining to your requirement of enclosed equipment list. We shall feel proud and privileged to serve your esteemed organization and wish to start and to maintain fruitful business relations with you on a long term basis."

    Anybody out there who knows of an "esteemed" sewer sludge, cement, power plant or steel company let us know would you?

    Maybe we have the way they "deals" all wrong.


  9. They do that everywhere on the web Max even on articles that are not flattering.
    The shotgun approach don't you know.

  10. Mayor Perkins is not going to help.
    He IS the one that signed all of the permits for Merrill Bros. to come to Harpersville.

  11. Anyone with a concern for this, please contact the Coosa RiverKeepers. I'm sure they could help raise awareness about this because the Mayor and no one else seems to care. The EPA apparently turns a blind eye to this also.


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