Larry Newton wrote:
> Thought you all might find this interesting.
> Residents question sludge use on farm
> Chicago Sun Times June 30, 1999
> By Jon Schmid Environment Reporter
> Chicago's Waste Management Inc. wants to increase the city's recycling by
> spreading up to 60,000 tons a year of garbage particles on land owned by an
> organic farm in Kankakee County.
> The particles, called screenings, are sifted from residential garbage as
> part of the sorting process. They don't contain anything dangerous and make
> great fertilizer, said Scott Combis, division environmental engineer with
> Waste Management.
> But some residents of rural Momence, the proposed destination of the waste,
> have their doubts. They don't want Chicago's garbage and are worried about
> its potential effects.
> "I'm for recycling, but this is not a dumping ground for the City of
> Chicago," said Bud Love, who owns farmland adjacent to the proposed site
> and has lived in the area all his life.
> In March, Waste Management applied to the Illinois Environmental Protection
> Agency for a permit to apply the sludge to land owned by Van Drunen Farms.
> The Illinois EPA is expected to rule on the application by the end of this
> "This is like a weird John Grisham novel," said Michelle Marhofer, of
> Momence. "Kankakee County has beautiful farmland."
> The plan would be a first in Illinois and calls for the screenings, roughly
> three-quarters to half an inch or less in size, to be ground up into a dry
> sludge before being applied to the land.
> "Testing we have done through composition studies showed that material that
> size is highly organic and relatively free of manmade material and would be
> a perfect candidate for agricultural purposes," said Combis.
> But neighbors are concerned about odor problems and flies. They are also
> worried that the sludge could contaminate nearby Singleton Ditch, which
> flows into the Kankakee River.
> The Illinois EPA is studying the rate at which the soil at the 136-acre
> site could absorb metals in the sludge and how much inert material, such as
> plastic and glass, it contains.
> Van Drunen Farms is an organic farm that specializes in growing herbs, said
> its owner, Ed Van Drunen. Soybeans or corn, probably not for human
> consumption, and without the label "organic," would be grown on the site,
> Van Drunen said.
> "It's just not acceptable for farmland," said Leigh Marcotte, news editor
> of the Sentinel, a Kankakee County newspaper that has written about the
> proposal. "It belongs in a landfill."
Kevin Chisolm replied:
This proposal, to distribute Municipal Waste screenings on agricultural land,
does not appear to be "fatally flawed. There is no reason given to believe that
there is indeed a hazard or problem. The system is being proposed on a test
basis, to determine if there are any presently unrecognized hazards. This, to
me, seems to be a responsible way to go.
I do feel that the article itself is irresponsible, inflammatory, and "fear
mongering." The objections by the residents are "seat of the pants," "knee
jerk" reactions to a proposal about which they apparently know absolutely
nothing. If there is indeed a potential for problems, then one would assume
that the Van Drunen Farms would be held liable for them. If nothing else, the
Farm is risking its organic status. One can generally assume that if Farm
Management is into organic registration, they must be a bit more responsible
and a bit more knowledgeable than average.
The article is writen in a cheap and devious manner. By mentioning the "60,000
tons per year....", the implied suggestion is that the initial test will
involve spreading 60,000 tons of stuff on the farm. This would be totally
stupid for a test. I would guess that the Farm is interested in trying a few
truckloads, to see what results, and then if everything is OK, only then would
they accept larger quantities. It portrays the farm, and the Chicago Waste
Management people as totally irresponsible, and out to purposefully damage the
engironment. That, to me, is mean and small minded. The Author, Schmid, should
get his keyboard schmashed. :-)
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