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I bet he was told it was safe, but now will get no help. It looks like the processor will not touch milk from his farm, so at least as dairy farm it is done. The source of the waste should have to buy him out.
 

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I bet he was told it was safe, but now will get no help. It looks like the processor will not touch milk from his farm, so at least as dairy farm it is done. The source of the waste should have to buy him out.
Yep, he was told it was safe. He's culled all of his herd and gone out of state to get new cattle. And those that dumped onto his land, and told him it was "safe" are not stepping up. Even if they don't manage to tax you off of the land, they can still ruin your livelihood. :nunu: If he wins he suit, it will be appealed until he is in the grave.
 

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There is no excuse for this; the hazardous waste regulations went into effect, as I recall, about 1980 or so. Why were they so anxious to spread this crap on someone else's land? One guess. They should have known. From my experience, the paper industry had a lot of catching up to do when the environmental regulations went into effect, from every aspect...air, water, solid and hazardous waste. They used Chlorine Dioxide to bleach their paper, what could possibly go wrong?

I wish the farmer God speed, a good legal team and a billion in restitution and punitive damages.
 

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After just a brief review of the case after reading this article - I’d say it’s far from a clear cut winner unfortunately.

Farmers were “PAID” (emphasis added intentionally here to accept this waste onto their fields as an enhancer. Key here is they made money taking something they were told would benefit them.

Now a reasonable person has to approach the situation like this....someone is coming around offering me a product that is going to only benefit me, with no downside or risk and they are PAYING me to accept it. When you accept payment - you also accept that you have done your due diligence and accept the risk. Think about it - someone offers you something that will make you live longer, be better looking and make you wealthier and they will reward you for taking it - you assume the risk of all that brings on - having to pay bills longer than your normally expected life, dealing with potentially more unwanted attention and having to worry about managing more money than you typically do.

Now if it were a “they bought the product as fertilizer” or even agreed to allow them to dump it gratis - they likely would not have waived any rights. But by taking $$ - you give up rights as a typical view of practical law.

Only if you could prove the person paying for waste disposal KNEW and MATERIALLY MISREPRESENTED the product do you have a good case. That changes the vantage as knowing and concealing something that may change the other parties mind about a contract is different. You have to disclose anything you reasonably and presumably know that others may not know about.

Given the venue, they well may win. Fairly liberal venue and first round of judge is going to favor “the little guy” (again, if you lost millions - you ain’t so little in my mind). But get to even the state Supreme Court or federal courts - it’s a tough case.
 

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I bet he was told it was safe, but now will get no help. It looks like the processor will not touch milk from his farm, so at least as dairy farm it is done. The source of the waste should have to buy him out.


funny FG should bring this up about the farmer and sludge.:unknown:i have a story about it too. back in 82 or 83 Phila needed a place to dump theirs too. truck load after truck load came up to our old strip job we was pushing shut, and it was all farm land originally. that summer i was pushing a set of pans around laying topsoil down, before the sludge showed up. we watched the biggest tomato plant grow out of the ground i had ever seen.:munch:everyone knew i carried tomato sammichs in my bucket pretty near every day, and was teasing me to use them tomato's on that one stalk, so.......one day we picked the biggest one, and i cut it open to just see how good it looked inside. jeepers it was empty-just a shell no guts inside what so ever:nunu:

now this sludge was chiseled into about 3 ft of topsoil, that the pans laid down first.

fast forward a couple of yrs, and the farmer who was milking -and using his well, the water went bad.:banghead: so coal company drilled him a brand new well, in a yr it went bad. ended up in court for several yrs then. ended up coal company went out of business, and all of us had to either cash out our retirements, or roll it over. that happened in 86-IIRC. never heard if farmer kept milking or not, as i was working another job by then-in fact was on my 2nd job by the retirement thingee.

that sludge made the grass grow good and green, later that summer into fall. lots and lots of farms back then got it spread on them, in them couple yrs-how they fared out-nobody ever heard:dunno::dunno:
 

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I’m in that area and dairy farms are pretty common. I asked a couple about it as it’s been in the news for a while and across the board they don’t use sludge, they generate more then enough manure for fertilizing both grazing and haying fields.

In my particular town the sludge is spread on unused fields that I believe are municipal owned. We also have city water drawn from a lake about 10 miles away.
 

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That just sucks.

Perhaps the "cities" should have to just keep their $hit within the city limits.
 

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After just a brief review of the case after reading this article - I’d say it’s far from a clear cut winner unfortunately.

Farmers were “PAID” (emphasis added intentionally here to accept this waste onto their fields as an enhancer. Key here is they made money taking something they were told would benefit them.

Now a reasonable person has to approach the situation like this....someone is coming around offering me a product that is going to only benefit me, with no downside or risk and they are PAYING me to accept it. When you accept payment - you also accept that you have done your due diligence and accept the risk. Think about it - someone offers you something that will make you live longer, be better looking and make you wealthier and they will reward you for taking it - you assume the risk of all that brings on - having to pay bills longer than your normally expected life, dealing with potentially more unwanted attention and having to worry about managing more money than you typically do.

Now if it were a “they bought the product as fertilizer” or even agreed to allow them to dump it gratis - they likely would not have waived any rights. But by taking $$ - you give up rights as a typical view of practical law.

Only if you could prove the person paying for waste disposal KNEW and MATERIALLY MISREPRESENTED the product do you have a good case. That changes the vantage as knowing and concealing something that may change the other parties mind about a contract is different. You have to disclose anything you reasonably and presumably know that others may not know about.

Given the venue, they well may win. Fairly liberal venue and first round of judge is going to favor “the little guy” (again, if you lost millions - you ain’t so little in my mind). But get to even the state Supreme Court or federal courts - it’s a tough case.
The Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) was passed in 1976. Generators were required to test their waste if they didn't know what was in it, and to determine it's hazardous nature if any. If it applied to them at that time, or at least before they applied the sludge, they were in violation of federal law, which means that by definition the sludge was hazardous. If you pay an unsuspecting individual to take your sludge, you are in effect disposing of it illegally. I'll bet my money on the farmer winning the law suit.
T
 

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The Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) was passed in 1976. Generators were required to test their waste if they didn't know what was in it, and to determine it's hazardous nature if any. If it applied to them at that time, or at least before they applied the sludge, they were in violation of federal law, which means that by definition the sludge was hazardous. If you pay an unsuspecting individual to take your sludge, you are in effect disposing of it illegally. I'll bet my money on the farmer's estate winning the law suit.
T



Just needed to correct that for you.
 

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Odd case

I’m in that area and dairy farms are pretty common. I asked a couple about it as it’s been in the news for a while and across the board they don’t use sludge, they generate more then enough manure for fertilizing both grazing and haying fields.

In my particular town the sludge is spread on unused fields that I believe are municipal owned. We also have city water drawn from a lake about 10 miles away.
That's one odd thing about the case- usually dairy farms have a problem safely spreading all of the manure without exceeding the soil carrying limits. Biosolids have been used in Virginia for over 40 years now under a regulated program. Both the land and the material is tested before application. This is actually one of the few instances that I've seen where actual harm seems to be documented. I agree with the comment that if the farmer was paid to allow spreading, that may impact his chance of a recovery as opposed to simply getting the material for free.

Unfortunately, it may come down to the fine print in whatever documents he signed which may have a hold harmless clause. Sometimes those are thrown out as unenforceable, sometimes they are upheld depending on the wording and the whim of the court. Unfortunately, I also think FG is correct, if the farmer wins the first round it will be appealed. Too often companies and governments would rather spend money to pay lawyers than fix a problem because they don't want a precedent in place. Plus of course, the lawyers are whispering in the ears of the decision makers that it's better to win this case than take a chance of future cases and it will only cost a little more in legal fees. . .

Treefarmer
 

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Let me just add this. If the generator is indeed in violation of RCRA, then he can look forward to a SUBSTANTIAL penalty from the government, plus COSTS OF CLEANUP. Now if I were the government attorney prosecuting the case, there's nothing I would like better than to see a private law suit against the defendant, especially if he was found liable and had to pay. I think the case with the farmer will be settled quickly, and if the state government prosecutes the RCRA case, they will want to settle that quickly also, that way they won't have to deal with EPA. If the farmer thought he was getting a soil conditioner, whether he paid or the generator paid shouldn't make any difference...unless he knew he was getting dangerous sludge.
 

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The operator of the treatment plant is the local government, so they have fairly broad immunity in many aspects of liability. Even willful negligence often gets a pass.
 

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The operator of the treatment plant is the local government, so they have fairly broad immunity in many aspects of liability. Even willful negligence often gets a pass.
States, municipalities, even federal government entities like federal agencies and the military are subject to the federal RCRA provisions.
 

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States, municipalities, even federal government entities like federal agencies and the military are subject to the federal RCRA provisions.
Technically yes, but government violations are common enough around here that this is how it usually goes.

Local government submits a plan to the state dep.

Dep approves

Local government executes the plan

Plan is found to be insufficient and contamination occurs.

Feds get involved

State updates procedures going forward to hopefully prevent recurrence

No fines or remediation occur and life goes on until it happens again.




As I type this I bet 75% of sewage treatment plants are overflowing with illegal discharge cause by combined sewer and storm water. None will be fined and no remediation will happen. We have been 20 years away from complete separation for 25 years. Having an approved consent agreement in place protects the local government. When projects go over budget and that causes delays the consent agreement is simply updated so we are still 20 years away from compliance.

On other projects even when local governments ignore key parts of the approved plans, they are ordered to come into compliance going forward. The closest thing I have seen to a penalty on a willful violation is an agreement to restore another unrelated property to natural over fixing the place they contaminated which would be more expensive.

If it’s a private entity or person who does anything remotely similar then the sewage hits the fan, avoiding bankruptcy is as close to winning as they can get.
 

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A quick search shows that from 2007 or before it’s been known that sewage treatment does not remove pharmaceuticals from discharges. I was thinking it was actually found 15 or more years before that, as I remember hearing about it in school.

I believe sludge is illegal to use a fertilizer for food crops too, why it is allowed to be used for feeding food producing animals is beyond me, maybe that was in his contract and the farmer ignored it. There are still lots of questions as to who is to blame.
 

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Technically yes, but government violations are common enough around here that this is how it usually goes.

Local government submits a plan to the state dep.

Dep approves

Local government executes the plan

Plan is found to be insufficient and contamination occurs.

Feds get involved

State updates procedures going forward to hopefully prevent recurrence

No fines or remediation occur and life goes on until it happens again.




As I type this I bet 75% of sewage treatment plants are overflowing with illegal discharge cause by combined sewer and storm water. None will be fined and no remediation will happen. We have been 20 years away from complete separation for 25 years. Having an approved consent agreement in place protects the local government. When projects go over budget and that causes delays the consent agreement is simply updated so we are still 20 years away from compliance.

On other projects even when local governments ignore key parts of the approved plans, they are ordered to come into compliance going forward. The closest thing I have seen to a penalty on a willful violation is an agreement to restore another unrelated property to natural over fixing the place they contaminated which would be more expensive.

If it’s a private entity or person who does anything remotely similar then the sewage hits the fan, avoiding bankruptcy is as close to winning as they can get.
I'm familiar with politics, having spent nearly 25 years either working for or dealing with the state government.
I
 

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Biosolid application

A quick search shows that from 2007 or before it’s been known that sewage treatment does not remove pharmaceuticals from discharges. I was thinking it was actually found 15 or more years before that, as I remember hearing about it in school.

I believe sludge is illegal to use a fertilizer for food crops too, why it is allowed to be used for feeding food producing animals is beyond me, maybe that was in his contract and the farmer ignored it. There are still lots of questions as to who is to blame.
There is a time constraint for applications and food crops that are direct consumption like vegetables but it's not necessarily prohibited, at least in Virginia. It does depend somewhat on the crop. Without going too deep into the subject- it's stinky technical in many ways- there are some constraints to prevent bacterial issues, some constraints for water quality issues and other constraints for what's allowed to be in the biosolids. The applicators who may or may not be the waste water treatment plant (WWTP) are responsible for the application process. The WWTP is responsible for making sure the product is suitable for land application under both federal and state regulations. The WWTP operators that I've talked with take care of their issues by checking the inflow for any heavy metals or other non allowable substances. They simply don't allow those into the plant even to the point of tracing back the source and capping the pipe from the offender to the sewer system. The second part of their responsibility is making sure the plant is operating correctly through all stages and the output is suitable. The kicker is if you have a combined sewer and storm water system and a rain storm dumps several inches of rain. Most systems do not have adequate buffer storage to soak up the millions of gallons of combined effluent and then direct discharges occur. That does not, however affect what's in the biosolids output of the plant, at least not if the rest of the plant is still operating correctly. Combined sewer and storm water systems worked well when everything was just dumped into the closest river but they are terrible if you are trying to treat the waste water and not contaminate that river.

This case may be a bit unique in that it's possible that the contaminate is allowed by EPA to be in the waste stream. Someone mentioned pharmaceuticals as another example, some of which break down pretty quickly and some are very persistent. If the contaminants are an allowable substance, the court is going to have a time reaching a decision and is likely to side with the local government as they were operating within federal guidelines. I don't think the farmer will be very successful suing the EPA for allowing a contaminant; the best he could probably get is a change in the regulations for future applications. That doesn't help him at all.

As usual, the real winners will be the lawyers. I think they will have a great time with this case unless it's possible to prove the applicator and/or the WWTP operator violated existing state or federal law. All things considered, I suspect that he is facing an uphill battle legally although politically he may be able to push for a settlement that helps him stay solvent even if considerably damaged.

Treefarmer
 

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I didn't realize on my first reading that the bio sludge came from the city sewer department. I'm not sure how the RCRA and Clean Water requirements apply to them; but in any case, the generators of the materials certainly deserve a second look.
 
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