Environmental groups stopped Synagro Technologies from using sewage sludge as "fertilizer" in Pennsylvania farms. The state oddly enough granted the permits to Synagro for this particular use of the sludge but then refused to dismissed the lawsuits. Law360 reported:
A Synagro Technologies Inc. unit has dropped its bid to use sewage sludge as fertilizer on several eastern Pennsylvania farms, averting a trial after several environmental groups challenged the permits the company received from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.
Synagro said in a Friday joint filing with the DEP that it no longer had the need to apply the sludge in question to the Potomac, Sunrise and Stone Church farms in Northampton County. The filing follows a July ruling from the state’s Environmental Hearing Board that denied the company’s bid to have the environmentalists’ challenges thrown out.
"Synagro’s withdrawal of its plan to dump sewage sludge and PA DEP’s declaration of its previous approval as null and void is a clear concession by PA DEP and Synagro that these sites and watersheds are not appropriate for sewage sludge dumping, and that PA DEP would not be able to defend its approval of the plan as being in compliance with the law," Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, said in a statement Monday.
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Sludge Free Upper Mount Bethel Township and 10 residents had appealed permits granted in January 2014 by DEP to Synagro Mid-Atlantic that allowed the company to spread sewage sludge, or "biosolids," on three farms in Upper Mount Bethel Township owned by former Northampton County Councilman Ron Angle.
The environmentalists raised alarms about groundwater contamination, contamination of drinking water wells, polluted runoff entering the Allegheny Creek and damage to exceptional value wetlands and endangered species, particularly the blue-spotted salamander, which is designated as endangered in Pennsylvania.
They said the DEP did not properly consider possible water contamination when it granted the permits. Sewage sludge can contain contaminants ranging from "bacteria and heavy metals to pharmaceutical, steroidal and flame retardant compounds," according to their February 2014 appeal. Van Rossum emphasized on Monday that these allegations had been substantiated through discovery.
"Through the discovery process and the reports of expert witnesses, we established what we had stated in the appeal, which is that these sites are not suitable for Class B biosolids," she said.
According to Van Rossum, a trial in the case was scheduled to begin in the second week of January.... Rest of article.
Kingfish note: Could this type of problem happen here in Jackson regardless of who gets the sludge removal contract? Could Synagro or Denali have the necessary permits in Mississippi or Alabama but be estopped from using them if such environmental lawsuits are filed?