At our last PCC meeting, the subject of toxic septic discharge arose. I mentioned the “list of 9” and the “list of 126 Priority Pollutants” that must, under federal law, be tested for in sewage bio-solids. I was in error – it is actually the “list of 25”, not 9. The testing is mandatory, not voluntary. King County PW found that out after we filed complaints against them for spreading tainted bio-solids in the forest that then ran downslope into Salmon bearing streams and then into the rivers. They arrogantly argued back, but the State stepped in, followed by EPA. They had to stop that activity. It never goes away, though. They are probably just shipping it to eastern WA to contaminate the farmland with now.
A years-long study done by World Health, USGS & EPA is the origin of the list of 25 below. Below that is the EPA CWA list of 126 priority pollutants found in sewage sludge. Who will test for that in this new city density planned development?
The statistics are: 65% of the US population takes some form of prescription drug daily – often more than one prescription. The body only absorbs 10% of each dose – the rest leaves the body and enters the sewer system, then ends up in the tidal waters. They cannot be removed from the waste. Needless to say, we don’t eat locally (or China/Japanese caught) fish anymore at our house. I have seen fish taken from commencement bay – their bodies are filled with tumors and the Bay is federally listed as a “dead zone”. There is much information still missing on the effect of mixing ALL prescription drugs together in the water, and it is very dangerous to mix them – actually, deadly. Our poor fish.
Whether in septics or treatment plants, the issues remain the same. All bio-solids (solids remaining after the black water moisture is removed) must be tested before being used for fertilizers or spreading on the forest floor etc. There is a ceiling limit on allowable presence. This is done at treatments plants, but not for individual septics. However, the black water issuing from septics still contains the prescription drugs, chemicals and pollutants that contaminate soil and water alike. In areas where there is no or little groundwater, that is bad but not critical. In areas where there is a high groundwater table, moving groundwater entering creeks etc., it is critical to address this. I have amassed a pretty extensive list of prescription drugs too, and their reaction to each other. Often it is deadly.
Most treatment plants, including Pierce County, do not have the equipment to do this testing and they do not warn people that the Tagro is tainted.
Despite comments that these chemicals and prescription drugs break down naturally, it is not true. Prescription drugs cannot be removed from sewage at treatment plants, and do not “dissipate” even during bio-solid treatment. All federal agencies and world health etc. have stated this to be absolute.
Due to the proximity of the “City of Pierce” planned high density development, all on septics, to the water table and aquifer here, this is not acceptable. The closer the groundwater is to the surface, the more septic contamination gets into that water, then into the aquifer. If anyone has read the “Safe Drinking Water Act”, the impact of this becomes clear. We must not allow additional new sources of this contamination to get into our SSA. The existing septics in high groundwater areas around the region are already causing groundwater contamination problems. Sewer lines must be ready to receive at the time of this city of pierce development, or no development.
Ironically, the wetlands I have devoted my life to protecting are one of the only natural ways to deal with this contamination. Wetland vegetation is by nature like kidneys – taking up the contaminated water and cleaning it, and holding the contamination in the plants, which then break it down. Too bad that the vegetation is always lost when cheating on the buffers, and the wetlands are always treated as a scourge against the developers who whine that they can’t build as many houses if they have to protect them.
Moreover, we have not yet begun the conversation of the Asarco contamination across this county, already confirmed by EPA, Ecology & the State Health dept., to cover 1,000 sq. miles. Yesterday’s news included a report of the highest levels of cancers across the country – wouldn’t you know, Pierce & Kitsap are near the top of that list. I have been trying to warn people about this for years, and trying to get PALS to post a notice that all development apps must include results of soil testing on the sites before the soil is disturbed. Of course, PALS refuses to post that notice.
How can so many otherwise intelligent people be so stupid!