Blowing the Whistle on EPA, Sludge

Washington, D.C. – A former government microbiologist, David Lewis, recently accused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of using unreliable information when the agency denied a petition to stop the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer.

Testifying before a House subcommittee, Lewis said data concerning sludge quality at two Georgia diary farms already had been rejected by state officials and labeled "completely unreliable, possibly even fraudulent," news sources report.

In December 2003, the EPA denied a petition from 73 labor, environment and farm organizations for a moratorium on landfill-based uses of sewage sludge, which would affect more than 3 million tons of sludge used each year as fertilizer. Lewis has asked for an internal investigation of the moratorium. He also claims he was fired from the EPA after raising concerns about sludge standards.

Additionally, sludge was a hot button recently when a federal judge rejecting a Virginia county's laws banning biosolids from being used as fertilizer on farm fields and pastures in late November 2003. In this case, the anti-biosolids ordinance enacted by the Appomattox County Board in early 2002 required that farmers obtain a permit to use biosolids and that farms using biosolids obtain special zoning along with other various restrictions. After farmers filed a complaint, a judge issued a preliminary injunction that was upheld by a three-judge panel, reaffirming the biosolid restriction should up lifted.