senior EPA officials took extraordinary steps to quash scientific
dissent and any questioning of the EPA's biosolids program," wrote Judge Anthony Alaimo.
Lauren Fondahl, an EPA environmental engineer in San Francisco, noted that the compost given away by San Francisco is tested for nine key pollutants -- but not for many others that could lead to toxic results. But here's the rub -- no compost is tested for these additional toxins. Compost derived from sewage is not necessarily "dirtier" than former table scraps or garden clippings -- though the notion of sewage is inherently revolting, and induces a visceral reaction.
"You can buy compost made from a variety of materials," said Fondahl. "If you test compost made from 100 percent green waste, you'll find lead and copper and zinc and so on in just about everything. It's in the environment at large; it's just a matter of concentration."
In fact, Fondahl says, "green waste" -- which sounds a lot better than "sewage sludge" -- actually has markedly higher levels of lead in San Francisco than the aforementioned sewage sludge. The yard clippings and tree branches that comprise green waste compost often contain paint chips from San Francisco's older buildings -- which are rich in lead.
Would the Organic Consumers Association claim Alice Waters favors giving children lead poisoning if she'd pushed for school gardens fertilized with 100 percent green waste? Perhaps that's something to ask them as they demonstrate on Shattuck Avenue tomorrow.