Orange County, CA, Sludge Compost Giveaway

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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.

Orange County, CA is dumping onto farms and gardens approximately 250,000 tons of biosolids annually.[1][2]

Toxic Sewage Sludge Given Away as "Organic Biosolids Compost"

In 2009 a major controversy erupted in San Francisco when the Center for Food Safety and the Organic Consumers Association called on the SFPUC to end its give-away of toxic sewage sludge as free "organic biosolids compost" to gardeners. A March 4, 2010, demonstration at City Hall by the OCA forced a temporary halt to the program. (See articles below)[3] [4][5][6] [7] The misleading labeled "organic compost," which the PUC has given away free to gardeners since 2007, is composed of toxic sewage sludge from San Francisco and eight other counties. Very little toxicity testing has been done, but what little has been done is alarming. Just the sludge from San Francisco alone has tested positive for 1,2-Dibromo-3-Chloropropane (a.k.a. DBCP), Isopropyltoluene (a.k.a. p-cymene or p-isopropyltoluene), Dioxins and Furans. [8]

On April 7, 2011, the Orange County Sanitation District of California announced the town of Fountain Valley, California, home of pro-sludge industry clean water group, the National Water Research Institute, and pro-sludge compost group, the Utility Branding Network, will reinstate its toxic sludge compost giveaway. A PR statement released April 7, 2011, stated that Fountain Valley's new recreation center has already seen the spreading of "compost on of its ten baseball and soccer fields in November 2010." Fountain Valley, according to the statement, purchases the sewage sludge disguised as "biosolids compost from Synagro, the nation's largest sewage sludge processor. Synagro actively markets and brands toxic sludge as a "natural," "rich in nutrients" soil amendment or compost.

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Biosolids Management 2008 Performance Report, Orange County Sanitation District website, Accessed June 19, 2010.
  2. Biosolids, Orange County Government website, Accessed June 19, 2010.
  3. Heather Knight, Nonprofit calls PUC's compost toxic sludge, San Francisco Chronicle, September 27, 2009.
  4. Barry Estabrook, Free Compost--Or Toxic Sludge?, The Atlantic, December 1, 2009
  5. Anna Werner, Concern Over SF Compost Made from Sewage Sludge, CBS Channel 5, March 3, 2010
  6. Leora Broydo Vestel, Food Groups Clash Over Compost Sludge, New York Times Green Inc. blog, April 9 2010.
  7. Chris Roberts, Farmers Call PUC's Shit, Will Dump it on City Hall Today, San Francisco Appeal, March 4, 2010.
  8. Jill Richardson, What San Francisco Found in Their Own Sludge, La Vida Locavore blog, April 8, 2010.

External resources

External articles

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