Pennsylvania Community Launches Lawsuit To Defend Food, Water and Air
For the past year, Philadelphia has been dumping tons of toxic sewage sludge near several homes in rural Pennsylvania. Families are now getting sick from the toxic air alone, but they are worried about their water supplies and so should millions of people downstream.
Ignored by state and federal regulators, more than 100 residents in Upper Mount Bethel Township filed a lawsuit today to stop the bioterrorism in their community. They seek damage claims from nuisance and trespass, but the potential impact goes much further. Coincidentally, Pennsylvania is conducting a statewide review of so-called biosolids and the land application of sewage sludge now. Pennsylvania is ground zero in the push for meaningful national reforms. It’s also a chance for industry and government to slam the door on meaningful resistance. For homeland defenders, failure is not an option.
Pennsylvania has never conducted a comprehensive review of the state’s biosolids program since the questionable practice began in 1997. The U.S. EPA has basically stepped out of the way, so, the practice is essentially self-regulated by private industry. What could possibly go wrong.
Last year, the state’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee ordered a comprehensive review and a report of its findings, including a list of alternatives to dumping this infectious waste on land. If the committee seeks the truth through House Resolution 60, it will find that there is no evidence of safety regarding biosolids. In fact, the risk assessments are flawed. If it looks, the committee also will find evidence of fraud, mismanagement and disease across Pennsylvania and beyond.
Thanks to gross mismanagement, dozens of other communities across the U.S. and Canada also are pushing back to defend their families and properties from toxic exposure associated with sewage sludge dumped on land. Wastewater treatment plants and their byproducts are now weapons of mass destruction. The X factor is a deadly protein called a prion. Prions cause a broad spectrum of disease in most, if not all, mammals. In people, it’s known primarily as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. In deer, elk, moose and reindeer, it’s been called chronic wasting disease. In livestock, it’s been called mad cow disease. There is a prion epidemic globally now and public officials admit that there is no way to stop it, yet. Unless, we had the sense to stop dumping infectious waste into our food and water supplies.
Most forms of neurodegenerative disease are infectious. It’s the fastest-growing cause of death in the world. As more people get neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob, the deadlier the sewage stream becomes. As such, wildlife exposed to sewage sludge dumped on land and water runoff contract brain disease from humans. Humans exposed to the infectious bodily fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, urine, feces and tissue–even sneezes) also can contract brain disease. Where the prions take hold in the brain will dictate the diagnosis. All victims are infectious.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government is failing to defend our food, water and air from acts of terrorism. Failure to enforce the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 is compromising national security and public health. Meanwhile, sewage-related diseases and deaths are soaring off the charts, including Zika virus, listeria, E-coli, and others.
“Since sludge dumping began 11 ½ months ago, we have received reports from more than 100 residents who have been adversely affected by the sludge, said John Gorman, Sludge Free UMBT President. “Airborne fumes, creating offensive odors migrating from the sludge sites, have made outdoor activities impossible. These irritating odors have caused burning eyes, nose, throat and difficulty breathing for many. Drinking water wells have been contaminated. All around the sites residents are prevented from enjoying their homes and yards. We also are concerned about our property values.”
Thanks to science fiction, the U.S. EPA decided that it was a good idea to dump tons of deadly sewage sludge on land back in 1992. Pennsylvania quietly began dumping tons of sewage sludge on land in 1997. Government and industry claim that sewage sludge dumped on crops, forests, playgrounds, parks and sporting fields is fertilizer. It’s also radioactive waste, infectious waste and toxic waste all rolled into one.
“The DEP does not require testing for any chemical pollutants that go down the drain and into the central sewage system. These include flame retardants, pharmaceuticals, fuels, solvents and PCBs. The terms type A and type B only pertain to levels of certain indicator pathogens, such as E.coli or Salmonella, and 9 heavy metals. They have nothing to do with other bacteria, viruses, endotoxins or prions. The health effects associated with all types of sewage sludge are related to these unregulated pollutants.”
In a separate lawsuit settled earlier this year, Synagro, the largest sludge hauler in the U.S., was barred from dumping sewage sludge on three parcels of land in Upper Mount Bethel Township. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network teamed with Sludge Free UMBT to successfully challenge the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and its approval of three sewage sludge permits. The suit established that the DEP failed to consider the impact of sewage sludge on the protected sections of the Delaware River, which is the source of drinking water for 15 million people in Easton, Trenton and Philadelphia.
“The DEP wasn’t protecting Pennsylvania’s environment. They were acting as Synagro’s permitting agency,” said Gorman. “The people of Mount Bethel are not waiting for the DEP to decide that sludge dumping on land isn’t safe. People are already experiencing the adverse effects. If reckless sludge dumping is having this impact on us, it will impact the drinking water supply for millions downstream.”
Since the industrial-scale dumping of infectious waste across the United States began, prion disease has risen accordingly. Chronic wasting disease is decimating deer populations across the U.S. and Canada. Now the deer in Pennsylvania are getting the fatal brain disease. These sick deer are just a canary in the proverbial coal mine. They are a symptom of a much bigger problem. The U.S. detected its first cases of mad cow disease since dumping began. The cases all came from regions where tons of sewage are dumped annually. Autism continues to soar. Now we have West Nile virus, Zika virus Valley Fever and other diseases that are being fueled in large part by infectious waste.
Experts claim that at least 25 percent of Alzheimer’s diagnoses are not Alzheimer’s disease. These misdiagnoses are actually CJD, which is further up the prion spectrum. CJD, without dispute, is extremely infectious to caregivers and loved ones. This means that millions of cases of deadly CJD are being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. These people alone have already turned wastewater treatment plants into weapons of mass destruction.
It’s likely that Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are equally infectious, which means millions of other victims are contributing to the spread of infectious prions via multiple pathways. Further mismanagement is not an option. Prions are unstoppable in the sterile confines of an operating room. Wastewater treatment plants can’t stop them, either. Prions migrate, mutate and multiply. Mismanagement is not an option. It’s time to treat sewage sludge, biosolids and wastewater like infectious waste, radioactive waste and more (we haven’t even talked about the carcinogens and endocrine disruptors). Current practices and policies are a public health disaster.
It doesn’t matter if it’s called class A or class B, it’s all infectious waste. Sewage sludge and biosolids must be reclassified and disposed of as such. Without reforms, it’s time to demand testing for mad cow disease in beef and dairy herds. Cattle raised on land (and downstream from land) treated with sewage sludge are exposed to serious prion risks.
It’s also time to stop using sewage sludge to reclaim mining sites. The practice has essentially turned these areas into more Superfund sites that should be capped from rainwater. Those watersheds are now contaminated with unstoppable prions.