letter to the editor

CMBG’s environmental impact

Posted:  Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 9:15am
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Dear Editor:

At​ ​a​ ​Board​ ​of​ ​Appeals​ ​meeting,​ ​CMBG​ ​was​ ​questioned​ ​about​ ​the​ ​products​ ​they​ ​use​ ​in​ ​their​ ​gardens.​ ​They said​ ​the​ ​products​ ​are​ ​organic,​ ​everyone​ ​was​ ​relieved,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​meeting​ ​continued. Unfortunately,​ ​it​ ​turns​ ​out that​ ​organic​ ​doesn’t​ ​always​ ​mean​ ​“that”​ ​organic.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​not​ ​the​ ​“certified​ ​by​ ​MOFGA”​ ​organic​ ​that​ ​we​ ​assumed it​ ​to​ ​be.

One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​products​ ​used​ ​by​ ​CMBG​ ​is​ ​made​ ​by​ ​a​ ​company​ ​called​ ​Casella,​ ​which​ ​got​ ​its​ ​start​ ​in​ ​waste management.​ ​Casella’s​ ​website​ ​features​ ​CMBG​ ​as​ ​“​an​ ​avid​ ​user”​​ ​of​ ​Nutri-mulch.​ ​​The​ ​website​ ​lists​ ​the components​ ​of​ ​Nutri-mulch​ ​as​ ​sawdust,​ ​woodchips,​ ​and​ ​municipal​ ​biosolids.​ ​Municipal​ ​biosolids​ ​is​ ​a euphemism​ ​for​ ​sewage​ ​sludge.​ ​While​ ​using​ ​human​ ​waste​ ​might​ ​not​ ​sound​ ​pleasant,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​not​ ​the​ ​problem. Fortunately,​ ​the​ ​composting​ ​process​ ​is​ ​able​ ​to​ ​eliminate​ ​most​ ​pathogens,​ ​but​ ​what​ ​about​ ​the​ ​chemicals?

According​ ​to​ ​an​ ​article​ ​by​ ​Sue​ ​Smith-Heavenrich​ ​found​ ​on​ ​the​ ​MOFGA​ ​website,​ ​“​Pesticides,​ ​PCBs,​ ​dioxins, radioactive​ ​wastes,​ ​asbestos,​ ​heavy​ ​metals​ ​and​ ​petroleum​ ​compounds​ ​are​ ​among​ ​the​ ​pollutants​ ​found​ ​in sludge​ ​after​ ​municipal​ ​waste​ ​has​ ​been​ ​treated.”​ ​​ ​​Astonishingly,​ ​the​ ​EPA​ ​regulates​ ​only​ ​a​ ​fraction​ ​of​ ​the thousands​ ​of​ ​chemicals​ ​that​ ​can​ ​be​ ​found​ ​in​ ​municipal​ ​waste.​ ​​The​ ​results​ ​of​ ​a​ ​google​ ​search​ ​on​ ​the​ ​topic did​ ​not​ ​do​ ​much​ ​to​ ​allay​ ​my​ ​concerns.​ ​Those​ ​most​ ​in​ ​favor​ ​of​ ​the​ ​use​ ​of​ ​biosolids​ ​are​ ​the​ ​EPA,​ ​and​ ​the people​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​the​ ​sale​ ​of​ ​municipal​ ​waste.​ ​While​ ​some​ ​researchers​ ​do​ ​feel​ ​it​ ​is​ ​safe,​ ​many​ ​(including the​ ​USGS)​ ​express​ ​concern​ ​and​ ​conclude​ ​that​ ​more​ ​work​ ​needs​ ​to​ ​be​ ​done.

Mr.​ ​Cullina​ ​calls​ ​the​ ​landscaping​ ​around​ ​the​ ​new​ ​(disallowed)​ ​parking​ ​lots​ ​“the​ ​largest​ ​gardens​ ​in​ ​CMBG history.”​ ​The​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​sewage​ ​sludge-laced​ ​mulch​ ​in​ ​those​ ​gardens​ ​will​ ​be​ ​significant.​ ​The​ ​“organic” Nutri-mulch​ ​contains​ ​great​ ​nutrients​ ​for​ ​plants,​ ​but​ ​what​ ​else​ ​does​ ​it​ ​contain?​ ​Are​ ​we​ ​willing​ ​to​ ​take​ ​a​ ​risk​ ​in the​ ​watershed?

The​ ​more​ ​I​ ​learn,​ ​the​ ​more​ ​I​ ​feel​ ​that​ ​no​ ​one​ ​truly​ ​understands​ ​the​ ​full​ ​environmental​ ​impact​ ​of​ ​the​ ​giant parking​ ​lots.​ ​Or,​ ​maybe,​ ​CMBG​ ​does,​ ​but​ ​they’d​ ​rather​ ​not​ ​say.

Mame​ ​Anthony

Boothbay