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Thursday, June 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Craig Monk: Biosolids are dangerous … and fertilizing your food

By Craig Monk

My experience with this ill-conceived process started in 2000 when a sewage sludge generator applied Class A biosolids to over 3,000 acres 100 yards south of my home and 150 others. The odor can be described as a dead carcass, with sewage over-smell. It made many sick with repository problems and even caused violent vomiting in children.

After years of researching, odor means that the material has destabilized and is still putrefying, emitting endotoxins and other harmful bio-aerosols.

These emissions are just the tip of the sewage sludge iceberg. I have read everything from Environmental Protection Agency research to independent researchers. By the EPA’s own admission in the 2009 Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey, which is NOT complete, there are incredible amounts of dangerous chemicals and their compounds in sewage sludge which, when exposed, may cause cancer, chronic diseases and birth defects.

After researching and actively fighting this travesty since 2012, my focus evolved into fighting for the health of our country, with commentary, to stop our government from continuing to tempt fate by allowing contaminated toxic industrial, medical, storm and household sewage sludge waste, called biosolids, from being broadcast onto our farms, ranches and forests, which contaminates our food and water resources.

As fate would have it, my wife has just been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. I was overwhelmed and heartbroken to see not only my beloved wife but hundreds of other women filing into MD Anderson breast cancer treatment center, in Houston, with the same affliction over a two-day period. And this is just breast cancer.

My friend Dr. Richard Honour, of Washington, sent me an article by Spokesman-Review reporter Jim Camden (“Lincoln County residents fight biosolids on nearby farm,” Sep. 27, 2017) that bears response.

Wayne Krafft of the Department of Ecology states false and outdated facts from the only research done by the EPA on biosolids (1970-80), which deceives the public. We wrote Krafft and asked him for supporting current data on his statements. To our surprise he had retired. The email was intercepted by Marini Solheim of the DOE Eastern Regional Office, Spokane, and DOE Director Polly Zehn. This is commentary on these two answering these questions about the following Krafft statements.

Krafft on biosolids: “The concentrations of those chemicals, if they can be detected, would be so low that a person wouldn’t get a dangerous dose.” Zehn/Solheim replied when we asked for current research showing the concentration levels and degree of hazard on over 80,000 chemicals found in sewage sludge (biosolids), about accumulations on these biosolids sites and how much exposure to these chemicals would it take to cause cancer, chronic diseases and birth defects? Their answer was the same on all three: “Ecology is not able to perform the research …” They did not know about or have current research and yet the DOE makes the statement above to the public.

Krafft: “Biosolids are spread thinly on the land similar to fertilizer on a lawn.” We showed Zehn/Solheim pictures of sewage sludge (biosolids) dumped in Washington’s mountains that were over 12 inches deep. Their answer was descriptions of the varying biosolids textures, and adding that “Mr. Krafft’s statement is entirely correct.” Yes that statement was correct, but it deceived the public into believing that ALL Washington biosolids are of this consistency. “Thin” is an exception rather than the norm. Again, DOE’s deception is to deceive the public into thinking biosolids are applied safely and are safe. This is miles from the truth.

The article continues: “The state requires tests for nine heavy metals that were found in sewage sludge in the 1990s, before more stringent treatment of industrial and municipal waste began reducing the amount of those chemicals in sludge, said Krafft, section manager for Ecology’s Waste 2 Resources program that includes the regulation of biosolids. It tests for salmonella and E. coli as indicators of the levels of other pathogens, he said.” Washington, please understand the DOE and wastewater treatment plants are only required to test for these few chemicals and yet there are over 80,000 found in sewage – and it is 2018, not 1990. The U.S. priority pollutant list has not been updated since 1981.

Zehn/Solheim: “The state of Washington follows the lead of the United States Environmental Protection Agency for regulation of pollutants in biosolids.” Google EPA’s Office of Inspector General report No. 14-P-0363, which speaks about the “stringent treatment.” The EPA and the DOE have ignored this report. Salmonella enterica is one species and is further divided into six subspecies that include over 2,500 serotypes – of which ONE is tested for. They also test for only E. coli, saying that if this level is low then all pathogen levels are low.

Ultimately your state Legislature allowed this ill-conceived practice and is blocking any effective change. Let’s not forget that the sewage industry is a multibillion-dollar operation, complete with lobbyists and special interests, and they have the money to back it up and keep the status quo in spite of risk to the public.

The Washington Legislature and the Department of Ecology have been putting you and your family at risk of exposure to chemicals that cause cancer, chronic diseases and birth defects. The only thing standing in the way of your exposure is your immune system. This contamination started, at the minimum, in 1990.

Do you feel safe? “Safe” meaning free from risk.

Be warned!

Craig Monk lives in Texas. His email address is

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