BS Basics

What does the word "biosolids" mean? 
You are not going to believe this but your government actually paid a Washington PR firm $300,000 of your tax money to come up with a flashy word to replace the phrase "human feces mixed with industrial waste."  The word the PR people came up with was "biosolids" or "BS" for short.  See Biosolids v. Sludge.

BS used to be called "sewage sludge," and in fact it is still called that in the federal regulations and statutes and by most opponents of BS.  Technically, BS is sewage sludge that has undergone some minimal amount of treatment to temporarily reduce the amount of certain pathogens, but not all pathogens.  The sewage sludge is not typically treated at all to reduce a number of heavy metals and toxic organic chemicals.  But because the treatment is so minimal and because the treatment has not been proven to render the sludge non-toxic, many opponents of spreading sludge on farmland feel that it is misleading to call sludge by the euphemistic name "biosolids."   For this reason the present website uses the alternative designation "BS," which is a doubly apt moniker in view of all of the false information (BS) the government and the sludge industry disseminate about biosolids.  

But whatever it's called -- biosolids, BS, sewage sludge, sludge -- it is still the semi-solid sewage residue comprising human feces mixed with industrial waste.  Enjoy.

OK, if BS is really sewage sludge, then what is sewage sludge? 
Sewage sludge is the poop-goop that settles to the bottom of large settling tanks that sewage flows into after the large components are screened out.  The poop-goop is removed from the settling tanks and partially dewatered, loaded into containers and delivered to Virginia's farms as "biosolids".  And it's free for those suckers who accept it and spread it on their land.  After all, the US Clean Water Act defines sewage sludge as a pollutant, which is why it's against the law to discharge it into the country's waters. 

In smaller towns sewage comprises primarily whatever is flushed down the town's toilets, and so the poop-goop at the bottom of the tanks is, essentially, human feces.  Sewage sludge therefore represents a concentration of whatever pathogens -- bacteria, viruses, prions, worms and their eggs -- are present in the gastro-intestinal tracts of everyone in the community.  If the town has a hospital, prison, mortuary, etc., whatever pathogens are discharged into the sewer system by such institutions is also concentrated in the sewage sludge.  All of this is then spread onto farm land under the guise of "biosolids."  

But that's not all.  In addition to pathogens a lot of toxic materials end up going into the sewage system.  Pharmaceuticals, for instance, are excreted in urine and feces.  Often people dump their outdated drugs straight into the toilet.  Household cleaners go into the sewage stream.  Many types of cloth materials are treated with fire retardants, which enter the sewage system when the materials are washed in home washing machines. In short, even when sewage sludge comes from a community that has no industrial activity, various toxic materials find their way into the community's sewage sludge along with the feces and pathogens.  

Virginia's rural areas have a much larger problems than the spreading of just locally produced BS because Virginia is where many large cities on the east coast dump their sewage: Washington, D.C., New York, Arlington, Va., Newark, New Jersey.  This means that the amount of feces and household toxins discussed above is multiplied by a factor of millions.  In addition Virginia gets dumped on by whatever gets flushed down the toilets of millions of hospitals, public buildings, and prisons in and around these mega-cities.  In addition, BS dumped on Virginia also includes an unknown and constantly changing array of whatever toxins are poured down the drains of hundreds of thousands of small and large manufacturing plants.  This can -- and does -- include heavy metals and cancer-causing toxins such as dioxins.   

All of this human feces mixed with industrial waste is given to many unsuspecting Virginia farmers as free "biosolids."  And they wonder how they could be so lucky.     





Copyright, 2005 - 2012, Denis O'Brien (aka The Gutter Grunt).  All rights reserved.