PO Box 44 ~ Saxapahaw, North Carolina 27340 ~ Phone (336) 525-2003 ~ Email:


June 1, 2009

Community forum: 7 p.m.
Press briefing: 6 p.m.

Sue Dayton (336) 525-2003

Community forum to look at risks of sewage sludge spreading on farmlands

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), and the Center for Health, and Environment and Justice (CHEJ) will host a community forum concerning the risks to public health and the environment from the spreading sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants on farmlands. The forum will specifically focus on issues related to sewage sludge spreading on farmlands in Orange, Alamance and Chatham Counties, NC.

The forum will take place on Thursday, June 4 from 7-9 p.m., at the Cane Creek Baptist Church Activity Center, 6901 Orange Grove Rd, Hillsborough, NC 27278. A press briefing will take place at the Center at 6 p.m. where the speakers will discuss with members of the media the risks associated with land application of sewage sludge on public health and the environment.

Forum experts will include keynote speaker Stephen Lester, Science Director for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, who will lead the discussion on how the practice of spreading sewage sludge became a regulated, agricultural activity under the EPA, and the risks of sewage sludge spreading on public health and the environment.

Other speakers who will round out the discussion on the hazards of sewage sludge spreading include:

Elaine Chiosso, Executive Director of the Haw River Assembly, a non-profit organization founded in 1982 to restore the Haw River and to protect Jordan Lake. Ms. Chiosso was recently appointed the Haw Riverkeeper, and will speak on the impacts of sewage sludge runoff on NC surface waters, groundwater and drinking water.

Ed Hallman, lead attorney with Decker, Hallman, Barber & Briggs, will discuss the two lawsuits he filed on behalf of the McElmurray and Boyce family dairy farmers against the City of Augusta in the wrongful deaths of the farmers’ dairy cattle and loss of productive farmland as a result of sewage sludge containing hazardous waste.

Myra Dotson, chair of the newly formed BREDL chapter, “Sewage Sludge Action Network,” will speak briefly about the group’s mission to increase public awareness of the potential risks to health and the environment from sewage sludge, and advocate for stricter laws that will protect consumers, farmers and surface waters from contaminants in sewage sludge.

The forum is co-sponsored by the Haw River Assembly, the Sewage Sludge Action Network, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. The forum is free and open to the public. Both farmers who land apply sludge and those who don’t are encouraged to attend, as well as anyone who is interested in healthy foods, sustainable farmlands, and clean water.

For more information contact Sue Dayton, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, NC Healthy Communities, at (336) 525-2003 or