Skip to comments.Whistleblower Says EPA Used Unreliable Data
Posted on 02/04/2004 5:49:52 PM PST by wallcrawlr
WASHINGTON (AP) - A former government scientist accused the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday of knowingly using unreliable data when it denied a petition to halt the use of sewage sludge for fertilizer. The microbiologist, David Lewis, testified at a House subcommittee hearing that the EPA used data about sludge quality at two Georgia dairy farms that had already been rejected by Georgia state officials as "completely unreliable, possibly even fraudulent."
He asked the House Resources Committee's subcommittee on energy and mineral resources to call on the EPA for an internal investigation of the moratorium and other matters.
Lewis, a former EPA employee who says he was fired in May after raising concerns about sludge standards, also said the panel should press the EPA for additional whistleblower protections.
"This whole process ... is nothing more than a scam," Lewis said in written testimony.
House Resources Committee spokeswoman Nicole Taylor said later that the committee's chairman, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., was open to Lewis' suggestions.
The EPA in December denied a petition from 73 labor, environment and farm groups for an immediate moratorium on land-based uses for sewage sludge. Such a moratorium affects more than 3 million tons of sludge used each year as fertilizer.
In its decision, the EPA cited data showing levels of heavy metals in sludge at the dairy farms were within allowed limits.
In fact, Lewis said, studies by Georgia state agencies found the sludge was so corrosive that it dissolved fences and emitted toxic fumes that could sicken cows. Lewis said the faulty data was produced by local officials in Augusta, Ga., several years ago and knowingly used by the EPA in December, in spite of an audit by Georgia officials that found it unreliable.
EPA officials did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.
Lewis' departure from the EPA came after he worked 32 years there. Although it was protested by Republican Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and James Inhofe of Oklahoma. But the EPA said then that Lewis had signed an agreement specifying he was to step down.
Lewis is now an adjunct professor at the University of Georgia. His testimony came at a hearing on peer-review and "sound science" standards for writing federal regulations.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.