Monday, August 4, 2008

Is my garden a Chapter 21-E site?

I read with interest this story in this week's Current, about recycling sludge from the sewer plant.

“We’ve been using green-related technology since 1997, when it comes to our sludge,” said Public Services Director Brendan O’Regan this week. “It’s called a beneficial reuse byproduct … taking our sludge and seeing what can be done to use it in a more environmentally friendly manner...”

“We bring [the sludge] down to Ipswich, and a private company mixes it with leaf and yard waste,” explained O’Regan. “It stays in a pile for a certain number of days, and the heat generated kills the bacteria in the sludge, then the composted material is essentially a compost that you can use for anything. It’s safe enough to plant vegetables for human consumption. It’s called a Class A biosolid.”

And whether they know it or not, Newburyport residents have been scooping up this former-sludge compost for years, picking up loads of it from the Crow Lane landfill, where it is offered free.

OK, well, let's forgive the writer the misstep about compost being available at the landfill (it's actually available at the recycling center on Crow Lane, since the landfill is privately owned).

Only 10 years ago, [writes M. Renee Buckley] the city’s sludge had a much different fate; it was trucked to the landfill and buried.

Okee doke then.

Wasn't the landfill classified as a Chapter 21-E site (oil and/or hazardous waste) because of this same sewer sludge? Or is it no longer laden with heavy metals?

I've got a good amount of that city compost in my yard ...


Ari Herzog said...

My understanding is the city dumped its sludge at Crow Lane circa 1940 and few, if any, records remain.

The carting to Ipswich is much more recent.

Gillian Swart said...

So ... my garden is safe?? Actually, I know it is, but it makes you think, doesn't it?