[GRRN] [Fwd: Re: [Fwd: Re: Composting Week May 2-8, 1999 -- FYI]]

Myra Nissen (myracycl@inreach.com)
Tue, 04 May 1999 19:55:58 -0700

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Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 13:07:44 EDT
Subject: Re: [Fwd: Re: Composting Week May 2-8, 1999 -- FYI]
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While I aagree that industrial waste is highly undesirable contaminant in
municipal sludges, and I agree that there needs to be more thorough removal
of metals in particular prior to discharge of waste water into POTWs, the
article is incorrect to baldly state that the nitrogen in urine is not
confined or captured in the sludge. Statements like that reveal a profound
misunderstanding of what sludge is. It is the biomass of the beneficial
organisms used to digest the solids, and these organisms readily take up
available nitrogen from all sources, including nitrite, nitrate, and
ammonical. It is illegal to discharge nitrogen rich wastewater into the
waterways of the Uniyted States. Biosolids contain relatively high amounts
of WIN (water insoluble nitrogen) in the form of bacterial biomass, NOT in
the form of compressed turds as the more fanaatical anti-biosolids crowd
would have you believe. Indeed, as they themselves seem to believe. As to
the heavy metals, it is unfortunate that the manufactured fertilizers are not
required to list the content of metals on their lables, as it would reveal
that they contain ten, twenty or more times the lead, cadmium, nickle, or
arsenic legally found in biosolids. By biosolids, I mean class A or B sewer
sludges, as reported and regulated by the USEPA, State EPAs, regional water
boaards, and local governments around the country. If you are using a
commercial water soluble fertilizer, you are applying a product that
dissolves and runs off in rain or irrigation water, contributes a very much
greater load of heavy metals, also in a water soluble form, and which builds
up to deleterious salt levels much faster than the nutrients in biosolids,
which are in the form of organic matter (bacterial biomass), which have
pollutant levels that are tracked, reported, regulated and Not likely to
mobilize in soils which have pH suitable for cropping. I am utterly sick of
the knee-jerk ignorance of some of these groupss. Their only redeeming
feature is that their hearts are in the right place, but they know nothing
about the wastewater TREATMENT process (their mental functions freeze in the
solid waste collection data); little or no knowledge of how nutrients and
life forms in the soil operate, how soil structure and type affects nutrient
availability, or the almost incomprehensible volume of biosolids carrying the
maximum legal amounts of any toxic metal that are required to bring an acre
of soil to a toxic level, assuming that the acre is never cropped. It takes
even more sludge to damage an acre of cropped , biologically active soil.
While I agree that our communities should be requiring industrial discharges
to be de-toxified, and I personally think that biosolids should be composted
prior to application, it is clear to me that soil disposal is the safest,
most sustainable, most cost effective, and obvious way to dispose of sewer