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Whistleblower Says EPA Used Unreliable Data
AP ^ | Feb 4, 2004 | Erica Werner

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.

TOPICS: Extended News
KEYWORDS: agriculture; environment; epa; fertilizer; government; sludge; whistleblower

1 posted on 02/04/2004 5:49:53 PM PST by wallcrawlr
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To: wallcrawlr; Ace2U; Alamo-Girl; Alas; alfons; alphadog; amom; AndreaZingg; Anonymous2; ...
Rights, farms, environment ping.
Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this list.
I don't get offended if you want to be removed.
2 posted on 02/04/2004 5:55:24 PM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: farmfriend
this is an issue where i live. The problem is Bactria and heavy metals. Officials claim sludge, the end result of sewage treatment plants, are perfectly safe and that sunlight will kill any bacteria..heh of course heavy metals are a bigger problem that gets glossed over for the sake of money. Areas that accept this get paid for it and what politician isn't willing to overlook a slow poison like arsenic for more money in the treasury.
3 posted on 02/04/2004 6:11:08 PM PST by rottweiller_inc
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To: wallcrawlr
"This whole process ... is nothing more than a scam,"


4 posted on 02/04/2004 6:17:26 PM PST by jaz.357 (Pacifism is the greatest tool in the hands of a faschist. - Mike Muir)
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To: farmfriend
Actually this is old news just repeated by another reporter. I've looked into this when I saw a similar article on it sometime last year. In fact, the article looks almost exactly like the earlier one.

Lewis has been vocally criticizing the EPA for quite some time, and I recall seeing he even has a website complete with lots of details and supporting documentation about his allegations against the EPA.

While I do have many concerns about shoddy science and sometimes blatant junk science performed by the EPA, ie the shoddy 1993 report classifying tobacco smoke as a class A carcinogen, and I don't doubt Dr Lewis' allegations over increased risks associated with sludge, I do wonder if some of this isn't overblown. The reason being is that I once worked for a number of years as a "honey-dipper", those folks who clean out septic tanks, and I've also worked around sod farms which used such sludge for fertilizers. I don't recall anyone being excessively prone to sickness or any untimely deaths of people I've worked with in the industry.
5 posted on 02/04/2004 8:46:22 PM PST by lockjaw02 ("Man's capacity for self-deception is unlimited." --George H Tausch)
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To: farmfriend
6 posted on 02/05/2004 3:06:45 AM PST by E.G.C.
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