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Sludge plan downsized amid outcry

By Alex Bridges

A biosolids supplier scaled back its request to spread more sludge on Warren County farmland after a state agency heard public outcry over the proposal.

Virginia-based Recyc Systems Inc. submitted an application to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in July to expand the amount of land to which it applies biosolids by 386.5 acres, according to Keith Showman, senior water permit writer for the agency. Recyc can currently apply treated human waste on more than 1,100 acres.

The state received a request from Recyc Systems on Friday to withdraw three fields from the application, Showman stated by email Tuesday. The three properties, on the Larry Andrews site, include land along Catlett Mountain across the Shenandoah River from Skyline High School, and fields at the intersection of Va. 55 and U.S. 340-522, according to Showman.

The fields removed cover 125.9 acres of the initial request, leaving 260.6 acres for consideration in its permit modification, Showman said.

"Recyc Systems' request ... was in response to the public comments received as a result of the information meeting held on Oct. 9," Showman stated. "It is not uncommon for applicants to revise their permit application requests voluntarily based on public comment received at a public information meeting and/or the 30-day public comment period."

The request to remove the fields from the application came days after members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors complained that they, even as an elected body, have no authority to control the spread of biosolids.

Earlier this month the DEQ held a public meeting on Recyc's application to expand the number of sites beyond its permitted 1,106 acres in the county. Residents raised concerns about the odor generated by sludge and the potential impact of biosolids on the environment. But the treated sludge doesn't harm the environment or produce as much nutrient runoff as commercial fertilizers, according to state and local officials who note that biosolids must meet stringent guidelines before a firm can apply the substance to fields. Supporters of biosolids say the treated sludge is a cleaner and cheaper form of fertilizer.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

1 Comment

If Virginia Counties opposed to sludge spreading can find a competent, courageous lawyer, who will work mostly for praise and gratitude, to file a Petition for Declaratory Judgment in Federal Court (NOT state court)-- they will win local control. Federal Sludge Rules clearly and unambiguously state that communities can enact LOCAL sludge rules more stringent than federal sludge rules. Under the Supremacy clause of the US Constitution, Federal law trumps state law. The Commonwealth of Virginia does not have the power to supersede or overrule federal law. And 'Dillon's Rule" specifically recognizes that it is subordinate to powers granted to localities in express words by federal law.

The tiny County of Wahkiakum (pop.4000) just won a victory over the State of Washington, Dept. of Ecology, in defending their local ordinance to ban Class B sewage sludge. The County's attorney cited federal sludge laws to support their position.

Read the federal "local control" sludge laws yourself. www.sludgevictims.com/local-determination.html

It is time for Virginia Counties to rise up against the sludge bullies who are forcing toxic, pathogenic sewage sludge from urban and industrial sources on unwilling rural communities.

Sludge is a trespasser - It makes you sick by invading your air with toxic emissions, causing respiratory, gastrointestinal and skin problems. Fithy biting flies swarm and carry diseases -
Your quality of life and property values decline.

Virginia sludge victims: http://sludgevictims.com/States/Virginia_sludge_victims.html

Helane Shields, Alton, NH sludge researcher since 1996 hshields@tds.net

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