Recently, a group of farmers and neighbors in Salmon Valley, near Prince George, British Columbia, successfully blockaded Wright Creek Road and turned back a truck full of sewage sludge headed for a 117 acre parcel of farm land contracted as a dump site by the City of Prince George. One neighbor brought a snowmobile towing a portable fire pit on a sled so that they were able to keep warm while they blocked the road. As of this writing, the trucks have not returned.
The Water Environment Federation (WEF), the sewage sludge industry trade group that invented the Orwellian PR euphemism "biosolids" for toxic sludge in 1991, is now "rebranding" sewage treatment plants as "water resource recovery facilities." The PR spin conveniently glosses over the toxic sewage sludge removed from the water and then heated and dumped on land for crops and grazing as "fertilizer" or misleadingly called "compost." The toxins in sludge can then bioaccumulate in the meat and dairy we eat and be taken up by the food plants that feed us.
A new puppet's in town! His name is Karden, and according to his PR, he shows kids how much fun gardening can be.
This week, CMD's new Food Rights Network sent letters to thirteen schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that have "organic" school gardens adopted by Hollywood's Environmental Media Association (EMA). As we reported in May, EMA teamed up with sludge-marketing corporation Kellogg Garden Products, which sells products made from Los Angeles area industrial and human sewage sludge with the label "quality organics" and which used the gardens for photo ops with sludge products.
Gardens in which kids grow vegetables and fruits were contaminated with sewage sludge as a result of EMA's partnership with Kellogg, which donated hundreds of cubic yards of sewage sludge products. EMA, which hosts its annual green carpet awards this Saturday, October 15th, has failed to take any steps to help remediate the children's "organic" gardens that were sludged.
Kern County has the sad role of being California's toilet. Kern County receives everything that goes down the drain from households, hospitals, and industry, from one of the largest and most densely populated counties in the country, not Kern but Los Angeles County. The resulting toxic stew of industrial and human sewage sludge is not a pretty thing, and most people in Kern County and their representatives don't want any of it. Unfortunately for citizens of Kern County, Los Angeles is willing to fight -- and fight hard -- to continue dumping sludge in Kern County.
Sewage sludge has a Facebook page! Only they use the PR term for sludge, biosolids, calling their page "Biosolids Buzz." Despite the attractive photo of a woman holding soil (presumably sludge) with a seedling growing in it, sludge is not "Liked" by too many other Facebookers, aside from all of the usual suspects. Kellogg Garden Products, a company that profits by selling sewage sludge as "compost," the U.S. Composting Council, a front group for the sludge industry, the U.S. EPA, which covers for toxic sludge by calling it safe and legal, and the big dog of the sludge industry, the Water Environment Federation, all "Like" this page.
As suburbs engulfed the rural landscape in the boom following World War II, many family farmers found themselves with new neighbors who were annoyed by the sound of crowing roosters, the smell of animal manure, or the rumble of farming equipment. In defense of family farming, Massachusetts passed the first "Right to Farm" law in 1979, to protect these farmers against their new suburban neighbors filing illegitimate nuisance lawsuits against them when, in fact, the farms were there first. Since then, every state has passed some kind of protection for family farms, which are pillars of our communities and the backbone of a sensible system of sustainable agriculture.
Today, the nation's major sustainable food writers and bloggers will converge on Monterey, California for an incredible, invitation-only sustainable food conference. The event, Monterey Bay Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions, which those who attend say is spectacular, has a new sponsor this year: Kellogg Garden Products. Yes, that Kellogg Garden Products. The very same company that has contaminated "organic" school gardens in Los Angeles with sewage sludge. The company's Chief Sustainability Officer, Kathy Kellogg Johnson, has a knack for befriending "green" organizations and using them to promote her toxic, misleadingly-labeled products to unsuspecting gardeners. In this case, she's listed as a "Silver Sponsor." How much did her company pay to give her such a nice platform, sitting on a panel with Grist's sustainable food writer, Tom Philpott, and telling an all-media audience about the sustainability of Kellogg Garden Products?
Independent testing commissioned by the Food Rights Network found toxic contaminants in San Francisco's sewage sludge "compost." In the sludge product given away free to gardeners from 2007 to March 4, 2010, are contaminants with endocrine-disruptive properties including PBDE flame retardants, nonylphenol detergent breakdown products, and the antibacterial agent triclosan. The independent tests were conducted for the Food Rights Network by Dr. Robert C. Hale of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences.
Last month, I wrote Chez Sludge, the first inside report on the sewage sludge scandal unfolding in San Francisco, based on internal documents obtained by the Food Rights Network and now online in the Toxic Sludge wiki on SourceWatch.
San Francisco, under its "green mayor" Gavin Newsom, has since 2007 perpetrated a greenwashing scam upon city gardeners. The city, known for its environmentally sound practices and commitment to a precautionary principle approach to dealing with environmental hazards, has deceptively and fraudulently been giving away free "organic Biosolids compost," that is actually nothing but toxic sewage sludge from San Francisco and eight other counties, "composted" by the giant waste handler Synagro.