I first read about it in an email forwarded to me. An Associated Press release said that toxic metals, chemicals and radioactive materials were routinely being "recycled" and used in fertilizer on our nation's food supply, and there were no laws governing it's use!
In a series of articles beginning July 3rd, entitled Fear in the fields: How hazardous wastes become fertilizer, Duff Wilson of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer related how local farmers in Quincy, Washington, population 4,000, became concerned after they experienced poor crop yields and sickly cattle. After taking their concerns to Mayor Patty Martin, an investigation revealed that the fertilizer they were using contained toxic wastes. They believe the wastes are to blame for their problems; but other local farmers are mad at the Mayor for "stirring things up," and causing problems. They "call Martin a troublemaker and fear she's fomenting a scare akin to the Alar alarm that nearly ruined Washington's apple industry in 1989."
"It's really unbelievable what's happening, but it's true," Martin was quoted as saying. "They just call dangerous waste a product, and it's no longer a dangerous waste. It's a fertilizer."
Every time I read something like this, I say the same thing. It's unbelievable, but true, how those in high places can mislead and lie to us; all the while pretending to care for our health and safety. They just change the definitions, and suddenly everything is fine again.
For example, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) changed or deleted more than 15 sections in Chapter 8 of their report -- sections setting out the scientific evidence for and against human influence over climate - before publication, because the embarrassing passages refuted their pre-determined conclusions.
But I'm not really surprised anymore: Rachel Carson said it over thirty years ago, in the book that set off the environmental movement, Silent Spring, and it's still true today - the biggest polluters have been and continue to be government and business. But enforcement is only directed towards the common people.
When environmentalism took off as a national movement back the late sixties and early seventies, those in power got a little paranoid. Popular movements are a threat, unless controlled. The only popular movements that are encouraged by the elite and their media outlets are those they have founded or channelled to their own ends. They decided that the only way to control it was to "become it." They decided to subvert the movement of the people, and make it the movement of government and business. They subsidized the movement through foundation and federal grants, and control the enactment of environmental laws.
"He who controls the pursestrings controls the movement - the direction, the enactment, and the enforcement."
Today, the average small businessman, homeowner or farmer cannot make a move without an environmental permit or assessment. Logging and mining have been shut down, ranchers and farmers put out of business for the sake of "the environment." And the government, the champion of environmental justice, working hand in hand with the large Green groups, deals out severe penalties for those who "damage the environment" by cutting trees, filling in "wetlands," grazing too many cattle, or picking up an arrowhead.
All toxic wastes are strickly controlled in our society, and polluters are dealt with severely. -- AREN'T THEY???
Sorry, it's not true. There are NO federal laws or limits dealing with toxic wastes or heavy metals in fertilizers, and little state oversight throughout the nation.
The article states that "Any material that has fertilizing qualities can be labeled and used as a fertilizer, even if it contains dangerous chemicals and heavy metals."
and "Officials rely on fertilizer producers to document that their products are safe, and never check back for toxic components. There is not even a requirement that toxics be listed on ingredient labels."
"Some industries dispose of tons of toxic waste by giving it free to fertilizer manufacturers, or even paying them to take it."
Until now, the Washington State Department of Agriculture only sampled fertilizers to ensure that they contained the required beneficial elements. No law or regulation required them to check for hazardous substances. "Nowhere in the country has a law that says if certain levels of heavy metals are exceeded, it can't be a fertilizer," said Ali Kashani, director of fertilizer regulation in Washington state.
(If fertilizer is not regulated in Washington State, what does Mr. Kashani do, and why does he have a well-paying, I'm sure, state job?) The article does state that "Kashani wants standards for heavy metals in fertilizer. Absent that, he said, he has to apply a general standard that recycled products cannot `pose a threat to public health or the environment.'"
Federal and state governments encourage the "recycling" of toxic wastes into fertilizers. It saves industry the costs associated with disposing of them, and conserves space in hazardous-waste landfills. It's a growing national phenomenon, the Times reported.
Materials being "recycled" back into our food chain through fertilizers include such wonderful things as radioactive materials, cadmium, lead, arsenic, incinerated medical and municipal wastes, and heavy industry wastes from mining, smelting, steel-making, cement kilns, wood products, etc. "...Although the health effects are widely disputed, there is undisputed evidence the substances enter plant roots," the article states.
Under federal regulations, toxic wastes go into storage under hazardous waste storage permits, and magically reappear out of storage as "recycled fertilizer ingredients."
"When it goes into our silo, it's a hazardous waste," Dick Camp, the president of Bay Zinc, of Moxee City, Washington said. "When it comes out of the silo, it's no longer regulated. The exact same material."
Many companies are currently "recycling" hazardous wastes. When mixed and handled "correctly," industrial wastes can approximate something resembling fertilizer, and actually help crops grow; but the beneficial elements such as nitrogen and magnesium are often accompanied by heavy metals such as cadmium and lead.
The article presents a list of locations around the nation using recycled hazardous waste as fertilizer.
Gore, Oklahoma - a Kerr-McGee uranium-processing plant recycles low-level radioactive waste as liquid fertilizer and sprays it over 9,000 acres of grazing land.
Tifton County, Georgia - a mix of hazardous wastes and limestone was sold to innocent peanut farmers, wiping out more than 1,000 acres. "The worst confirmed case in the United States of heavy metals in fertilizer destroying crops aimed for human consumption."
Camas, Washington - a pulp mill distributes lead-laced waste to local farms for use as a fertilizer on crops destined for livestock feed.
Moxee City, Washington - Bay Zinc Co. accepts a toxic byproduct from two Oregon steel mills into its silos under a federal hazardous waste storage permit. The unidentified dark powder then re-emerges as fertilizer.
Richard Loeppert, a Texas A & M soil scientist who has published several papers on toxic elements in fertilizers, was quoted as saying, "This is a definite problem. The public needs to know."