House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing on the land application and management of biosolids in Milesburg, Centre County, Monday, to hear testimony on encompassed environmental concerns and the potential negative impacts on ground source water and human health.
“This was a great forum for constituents and experts to come together in one location to discuss the harmful effects of biosolids,” said Rep. Mike Hanna (D-Centre), who hosted the hearing. “This issue has personally affected two locations throughout my district, Burnside and Benner townships, and so it is extremely important to me that we take these concerns seriously and work together to develop a solution.”
“Thank you to Rep. Hanna for hosting today’s hearing on biosolids,” said Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster), Chair of the Committee. “The meeting provided great insight into the industry and its impacts on our water sources and public health. I look forward to working with Representative Hanna on his legislation that addresses these issues.”
Rep. Hanna said the testimony given only solidifies the need for his legislation, House Bill 738, to receive immediate consideration in the House (sponsor summary available).
The bill would prohibit the application of sewage sludge in a source water protection area which Hanna said is critical to ensure safe drinking water. The measure would also prohibit the transfer and sale of a property on which biosolids were previously applied unless the buyer is made aware of such application.
A total of two panels and nine individuals testified at the hearing; four in person, one via Skype, one via the telephone and three through written testimony--
-- Dr. Herschel “Chip” Elliott (testified in person) - Professor at Penn State University, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering;
-- Dr. Richard C. Honour (testified via Skype) - Toxicologist and Executive Director for The Precautionary Group;
-- Lidia M. Epp (testified in person) - Molecular Biologist, Manager of Interdisciplinary Molecular Core Facility at Williams and Mary College, Member of Virginia Coalition Against Toxic Sludge;
-- Dr. Caroline Snyder (testified via phone) - Retired Professor, Founder of Citizens for Sludge-Free Land and Charter Member of the Union of Concerned Scientists;
-- Dr. Steve Wing (submitted written testimony) – Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
-- Amy Lowman (submitted written testimony) – MPH, Research Associate, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and
-- Douglas M. Mason (submitted written testimony) - Retired Soil Scientist with the Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Solid Waste Management.
In addition to the individuals listed above who provided important testimony, two of Rep. Hanna’s constituents testified-- Ms. Melinda Conrad of Benner Township and Ms. Rachel Guenot of Burnside Township. Both testified about their personal experiences with the application of sewage sludge.
“This policy hearing was essential to shedding light on the concerns that many of my constituents have raised in recent months and it is my hope that it highlighted the need for better oversight and compliance,” said Rep. Hanna. “I also hope this public hearing educated everyone on the importance of moving and amending my legislation in the House of Representatives.”
Click Here for a short summary of the hearing.
Copies of the testimony will be available on the House Democratic Policy Committee website in the coming days.To learn more about how biosolids are regulated, visit DEP’s Biosolids Program webpage.