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Limestone wants to stop use of human-waste fertilizer

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

ATHENS — The Limestone County Commission wants to stop the use of fertilizer made of human waste on county farms.

The commission voted Wednesday to seek an injunction, pending the county attorney's approval, to stop the use of biosolids.

Chairman David Seibert said going through the courts is the commission's only option because it lacks home rule. He wants to stop the use of biosolids until the health risks can be determined.

Houston-based Synagro Technologies Inc. has been supplying area farmers with biosolids through its Leighton plant. Synagro spokeswoman Lorri Loder said her company uses treated biosolids produced at municipal wastewater plants. She estimates that 60 percent of biosolids are used on farmland as fertilizer.

"This is tested, treated, and it's safe to use," Loder said. "I don't believe they should have any concerns."


Loder said biosolids contain nutrients similar to other, more familiar fertilizers.

But common concerns with using human fecal waste as fertilizer include the possible presence of prescription drug residue and more than 60,000 toxic substances.

Also, reported that biosolids pose a risk of infecting humans with ascariasis, a type of roundworm.

The Environmental Protection Agency approved the use of biosolids in 2004, proposing to change what was then called "sewage sludge" into "compost."

"Biosolids are regulated by the EPA," Loder said from her Arizona office. "Municipal plant workers work with (them) every day and, as far as I know, there haven't been any health problems. Our company isn't going to produce something that would affect people's health adversely."

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