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Galway - Event Notice
Thursday January 01 1970

Meeting Against Spreading of Human Waste on Galway Farms

category galway | environment | event notice author Wednesday April 18, 2007 10:16author by Mark C Report this post to the editors

A meeting will be held in Eyrecourt, Go. Galway, Town Hall, Wednesday 18th April, 2007 at 9 PM to discuss an action plan against the spreading of human waste (urine and faeces) on farms in Galway.

A meeting will be held in Eyrecourt, Go. Galway, Town Hall, Wednesday 18th April, 2007 at 9 PM to discuss an action plan against the spreading of human waste (urine and faeces) on farms in Galway.
Page One of the Information Sheet
Page One of the Information Sheet


Page Two of the Information Sheet
Page Two of the Information Sheet

author by Terencepublication date Fri Apr 20, 2007 13:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If human waste just consisted of our internal bodily wastes then it would not really be a problem and it would be easily treated and composted, but the problem is that so much other stuff goes down the loo with it.

Now we can argue about what should or should end up in the waste, but the on-the-ground facts are that human sludge waste is contaminated with heavy metals (like lead, cadmium, zinc, copper, etc), a whole host of pathogens (more on this below) and various contaminates, from bits of metal, plastics, rubber, needles and other wastes like bleaches and hundreds of poisons ranging from dioxins, PCBs, pesticides to many other toxic chemicals. Another common problem is that the waste can be loaded with all sorts of residues from medicines that people take from antibiotics to hormones all of which can have effects on other living things. These latter substances are actually very difficult to eliminate from waste water too.

The problem then is that when this is spread on the land, it means these substances end up in the water, get absorbed by plants growing food, polluting large areas of soil, aquifiers/groundwater and rivers.

A number of years ago the sludge industry in the USA tried to get the official definition of Organic Food changed so that it would allow for food grown on land with human sludge spread on it. It was rejected, but that hasn't stopped repeated and persistent attempts by the industry to try again in other ways.

But taking details from actual cases, here is an extract from the article: Let them Eat Sludge:

Dr. Stanford Tackett, a chemist and expert on lead contamination, became alarmed about sludge on the basis of its lead content alone. "The use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer poses a more significant lead threat to the land than did the use of leaded gasoline," he says. "All sewage sludges contain elevated concentrations of lead due to the nature of the treatment process. . . . Lead is a highly toxic and cumulative poison that can cause severe mental retardation or death. It interferes with the blood-forming process, vitamin D metabolism, kidney function, and the neurological process. From the standpoint of lead alone, sludge is 'safe' only if you are willing to accept a lowered IQ for the young children living in the sludge area. And what about the other toxins?"

Tackett is appalled "that the government would take the citizens' money and use it in such an odious way. The land spreading program for sewage sludge is a scam of enormous proportions, driven mainly by money," he charges. "In truth, only one to three percent of the sludge is useful to plants. The other 97 to 99 percent is contaminated waste that should not be spread where people live. . . . Land spreading of sewage sludge is not a true 'disposal' method, but rather serves only to transfer the pollutants in the sludge from the treatment plant to the soil, air and ground water of the disposal site."

More importantantly and horrifying though is this:

Assessing the health threat from the human disease pathogens inhabiting sewage sludge defies the capabilities of current science. In 1993, a team of researchers at the University of Arizona published a study which found that "significant numbers" of dangerous human disease organisms infect even treated sewage sludge. "Thus, no assessment of the risks associated with the land application of sewage sludge can ever be considered to be complete when dealing with microorganisms."

The viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi and intestinal worms present in sewage and sludge is mindboggling. Many of the pathogens cause diseases that sicken, cripple and kill humans including salmonella, shigella, campylobacter, e-coli, enteroviruses (which cause paralysis, meningitis, fever, respiratory illness, diarrhea, encephalitis), giardia, cryptosporidium, roundworm, hookworm, and tapeworm. Sludge pathogens can move through many environmental pathways --direct contact with sludge, evaporation and inhalation, contaminated groundwater, contamination of rodents burrowing in sludge, and uptake through the roots of crops.

In Islip, New York, sludge was the evident cause of the disease that killed 25-year-old Harry Dobin, who ran a coffee truck at a Long Island Railroad station 1000 feet away from a sludge composting site. In July 1991 Dobin began suffering health problems. Doctors treated him unsuccessfully for asthma, arthritis, Lyme disease, kidney disorder and bronchitis. Finally in January 1992 when he could no longer breathe, they performed a lung biopsy and discovered Aspergillus fumigatus, a common byproduct of sludge composting. By the time the disease was correctly diagnosed, it was unstoppable, spreading to his spine, his legs, and finally his heart, leading to his death on September 23, 1992. Other residents of Islip complained of chronic coughing, nausea and other reactions. A study by the state Department of Health found that neighborhoods downwind of the composting plant had four times the average background level of Aspergillus. State officials concluded that "the study did not find that the higher concentration of mold spores increased health problems . . . [but] such a connection might, in fact, be present . . . further study was needed to come to a definitive conclusion."

Outside Sparta, Missouri, a tiny rural town whose sewage plant began operations in the late 1980s, dairy farmer Ed Rollers began having problems with his cows in 1990. They were falling sick and dying, and no veterinarian or university scientists could tell him why. The death and disease continued until late 1993 when the farm declared bankruptcy. Someone suggested to Rollers that his cows could be victims of sludge which was dumped on a nearby field in 1989-1991, and suggested he read journalist Ed Haag's articles on the topic which had recently appeared in two farm magazines.

Eventually Rollers initiated scientific soil tests. "We found lots of heavy metal contaminants. The field where the sludge was dumped ran into our fields." They tested a dead cow and found "lead, cadmium, fluoride in the liver, kidneys, bones and teeth."..........
....Sixteen neighboring families have experienced health problems ranging from flu symptoms to cancer. Since then Zander says she has heard similar stories of sickness and death from more than 100 farmers near sludge sites throughout the United States.

So you think there is a problem in Galway now. It may well be nothing compared to what could happen if this goes ahead and gets out of hand.

The full article quoted above can be found at the URL below

Related Link: http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/1995Q3/sludge.html
author by Mark Cpublication date Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

From what I am told, there is also medical waste going onto the land - waste carrying Hepatitis, for example, and whatever else you might pick up in a hospital. As I say, this is only what I am told from people there, I'm going to do a bit more investigating over the weekend, hopefully, and at the meeting on Monday I'll try to talk to more people.

What the residents want, basically, is for the waste to be properly treated, turned into pellets and burned to create energy, rather than (improperly) treated and spread on the ground. Seems like a resonable request.


author by Catladypublication date Thu Apr 19, 2007 19:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was just wondering... how does spreading this type of waste cause any more damage to the environment, or pose more health risks than the spreading of other waste, such as slurry? Surely it's pretty much the same thing???

author by Mark Cpublication date Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is a meeting at Galway County Coucil scheduled for this Monday at about 14:00. Support at the outside would be much appreciated.

This is an issue that does not just affect Eyrecourt - the sewage runs into the Shannon and so affects marine life in Lough Derg in Portumna too - and also the water supply. In a broader context it is being spread on vegetables that can appear on plates all over Ireland and abroad. That means: it affects YOU.

I think it's time I wrote a feature on this.


author by farmer's sonpublication date Wed Apr 18, 2007 21:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We take it on our farm in Kildare. The council pays you so much a load, and pays someone to bring it and spread it. It is half-aerated but you dont want to walk on it for 2 weeks after spreading. Everyone calls it 'the human'. Saves a good bit on fertiliser. You will get the odd johnnie as well. They won't spread it on a field near a river.

The problem in Galway is also that bungalow septic tank soak pits are self-certified. Here you need a hydrologist report. Crazy, but the connachtmen know what is best for their children. The clever ones move out to Dublin?

author by W. Finnerty.publication date Wed Apr 18, 2007 16:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Although the behaviour of public-officials and public-representatives in Galway regarding sewage disposal is outrageously bad (in my view), in fact seriously criminal in some ways I'm convinced, it is also the case that there are PLENTY of people in places like Dublin and Brussels who have been kept informed regarding certain important aspects of the general Galway "sewage pollution" situation, over a period of several years now, and who have done absolutely nothing that I know of to remedy the problems in question: even though they were very well positioned to do so.

"One lot is bad, and the other is worse" - or so it seems to me at least.

For anyone interested, and partly with this year's General Election in mind, some of my experiences with Galway County Council (and other so called "public servants" elsewhere) have been briefly outlined in an e-mail sent yesterday to RTE Producer Tommy Standun, in response to a text message he sent me. The e-mail used, which was copied to several other media organisations apart from RTE, can now be seen at the following address: http://www.europeancourtofhumanrightswilliamfinnerty.co...l.htm .

Also, and again for anyone interested, an earlier "sewage" problem in the Eyrecourt area of County Galway was pointed out to the then European Union Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom. As can be seen at the following address, she was informed by registered post on December 21st 2001: please see under "Section 4" at http://homepage.eircom.net/~williamfinnerty/SATURNALIA/...1.htm .

I would like to wish the people of Eyrecourt the best of luck, and I'm really glad to learn that those responsible for tackling the problem appear to be getting good support from local people. That, more than anything else (in my view), is what is most likely to bring about a successful conclusion.

Related Link: http://www.europeancourtofhumanrightswilliamfinnerty.com
author by anonpublication date Wed Apr 18, 2007 14:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There's even a small mention of this on RTE website news.....

...A new waste disposal controversy has broken out in Co Galway over the spreading of thousands of tonnes of sludge from the city's Mutton Island Sewage Treatment Plant on farmland in the east of the county.

Residents in the village of Eyrecourt want the treatment and spreading of the sludge stopped....

and more

The once controversial Mutton Island plant has played a major role in cleaning up Galway Bay, but the clean up of the city's sewage leaves behind 7,000 tonnes of concentrated sludge each year.

This is then transported more than 64km to Eyrecourt where it is stored, lime treated and spread on about ten farms in the area.

Local residents say the smell from the operation has destroyed their lives.

They say they have serious health and safety concerns about what is being spread on land close to both the Shannon and Suck rivers.

They are to meet tonight to launch a campaign to try to halt the work because they say they are not satisfied with the guarantees given them by Galway County Council.

The key question arising from the information in this news report is to what level the waste is treated before it is spread. Has it been primary, secondary or tertiarty treated. And what other options are available for dealing with this waste. Surely there is a similiar if not larger amount of waste from other towns and cities around Ireland. Where does the sludge from that go?

Related Link: http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0418/sludge.html
author by Jackpublication date Wed Apr 18, 2007 12:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I saw an article in a sunday newpsaper, writen by an epidemiologist
which stated that the reason nobody in galway has died is because the locals have been exposd to
the clostrothingy bug for years and are now largely immune to its worst effects.
And you thought it was just the Barry's.

author by impatientpublication date Wed Apr 18, 2007 12:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

At last somebody in Galway is showing that they have a pair.
I was begining to think all the galway sheep were not just in the fields.

author by Mark Cpublication date Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Apologies for not having any substantial information of my own here, but I only came across this information sheet on my table this morning; not sure if it came in the post box of if my wife left it out. For that reason I am scanning the full information documents as is.

I won't be able to attend the meeting tonight either (but I think my wife will, so more information should follow).


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