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Re: Toxics, hazardous waste, unlabelled in fertilizers
There is more information on this issue in the Seattle Times, which originally broke the
story. It can be found at http://www.seattletimes.com. There are two sets of stories
on Julyl 3 and 4 and another, followup on July 13. Very interesting reading. My own
research shows that this is completely legal under Washington State law, which is likely
in violation of the Federal Resource and Conservation Recovery Act.
> From: Patricia Dines <PDines@compuserve.com>
> Subject: Toxics, hazardous waste, unlabelled in fertilizers
> Hi all - Thought this might be of interest, re: possible unlabelled toxic
> metals, etc., in fertilizers, harming crops, etc. I got another version of
> this which is longer (2 parts, about 15k each) please just let me know if
> you want a copy and I'll send it to you. Happy reading!! P. Dines
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> To: CONS-EQ-HORMONE-MIMICS@LISTS.SIERRACLUB.ORG
> To: Patricia Dines, 73652,1202
> Date: Tue, Jul 8, 1997, 9:02 AM
> Subject: dioxins and other hazardous wastes in fertilizers
> The following was posted to the Health and Environment Resource Center
> HEALTHE Digest - 5 Jul 1997 to 8 Jul 1997. The Seattle Times version
> was carried in the state newspaper, Saturday's edition of The Advocate,
> for Louisiana. --Susan Snow
> Report: Toxics Used in Fertilizers
> .c The Associated Press
> SEATTLE (AP) - Toxic heavy metals, chemicals and radioactive wastes are
> being recycled as fertilizer and spread over farmers' fields nationwide
> - and there is no federal law requiring that they be listed as
> ingredients, The Seattle Times reported.
> The issue came to light in the central Washington town of Quincy,
> population 4,000, when Mayor Patty Martin led an investigation by local
> farmers concerned about poor yields and sickly cattle.
> ``It's really unbelievable what's happening, but it's true,'' Martin
> told the newspaper, which published a series about the practice on
> Thursday and Friday.
> Until now, the state Department of Agriculture sampled fertilizers only
> to see if they contained advertised levels of beneficial substances.
> But the state is currently testing a cross-section of fertilizer
> products to see if they threaten crops, livestock or people, the Seattle
> Post-Intelligencer reported Friday.
> ``The key question is what toxics are, as it were, along for the ride in
> fertilizers,'' said Tom Fitzsimmons, director of the state Department of
> Use of industrial waste as a fertilizer ingredient is a growing national
> phenomenon, The Times reported.
> In Gore, Okla., a uranium-processing plant gets rid of low-level
> radioactive waste by licensing it as a liquid fertilizer and spraying it
> over 9,000 acres of grazing land.
> At Camas, Wash., lead-laced waste from a pulp mill is hauled to farms
> and spread over crops destined for livestock feed.
> In Moxee City, Wash., dark powder from two Oregon steel mills is poured
> from rail cars into silos at Bay Zinc Co. under a federal hazardous
> waste storage permit. Then it is emptied from the silos for use as
> fertilizer. The newspaper called the powder a toxic byproduct of
> steel-making but did not identify it.
> ``When it goes into our silo, it's a hazardous waste,'' said Bay Zinc's
> president, Dick Camp. ``When it comes out of the silo, it's no longer
> regulated. The exact same material.''
> Federal and state governments encourage the recycling, which saves money
> for industry and conserves space in hazardous-waste landfills.
> The substances found in recycled fertilizers include cadmium, lead,
> arsenic, radioactive materials and dioxins, the Times reported. The
> wastes come from incineration of medical and municipal wastes, and from
> heavy industries including mining, smelting, cement kilns and wood
> Mixed and handled correctly, some industrial wastes can help crops grow,
> but beneficial materials such as nitrogen and magnesium often are
> accompanied by dangerous heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, the
> Times said.
> ``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, who
> directs fertilizer regulation in Washington state.
> Unlike many other industrialized nations, the United States does not
> regulate fertilizers. That makes it virtually impossible to figure out
> how much fertilizer contains recycled hazardous wastes. And laws in most
> states, including Washington, are far from stringent.
> Canada's limit for heavy metals such as lead and cadmium in fertilizer
> is 10 to 90 times lower than the U.S. limit for metals in sewage sludge,
> while the United States has no limit for metals in fertilizer, the
> newspaper said.
> ``This is a definite problem,'' said Richard Loeppert, a soil scientist
> at Texas A&M University and author of several published papers on toxic
> elements in fertilizers. ``The public needs to know.''
> AP-NY-07-06-97 1815EDT