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Letter: Wheatfield board protects residents and environment

Wheatfield board protects residents and environment

I’m writing in response to an Another Voice from Ned Beecher, executive director of the North East Biosolids and Residuals Association (a representative of the sludge industry), criticizing the Town of Wheatfield for defending its local ban on the land application of biosolids (aka sewage sludge).

Beecher scoffs at Wheatfield’s assertion that “regulations for the land application of biosolids in New York have not been adequate to protect the public health and safety.”

These regulations have not been substantially updated in more than 20 years, despite the significant increase in what the U.S. Geological Survey, a federal agency tasked with overseeing our natural resources, calls “contaminants of emerging concern.” The reports of the National Academy of Sciences state clearly that more epidemiological studies are needed in order to understand the potential health risks of using biosolids as fertilizer. But the Environmental Protection Agency and our health departments have been slow in undertaking those studies.

In the meantime, countries like Switzerland have banned the use of biosolids as fertilizer, and German environmental officials say that their use must be phased out.

We need look no further than Flint, Mich., or Hoosick Falls to see examples of the failure of our state regulatory agencies in protecting the health of our citizens and our environment.

Is it any wonder, then, that local governments feel the need to take on that responsibility themselves?

Evie Kleinberg

Wales Center

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