In response to Ned Beecher's letter in support of "biosolids" agricultural land application:
Biosolids industry proponent Beecher's reply to Chris Benjamin's columns on the dangers of biosolids unsurprisingly neglects to address the subject of bioaccumulation of heavy metals in the soil after successive applications of this dangerous substance. HRM's current advanced primary level of sewage treatment (a step below the new federal guidelines) cannot and was not designed to filter out the chemicals and heavy metals that are routinely flushed into the system. No one would deny that human feces contain nutrients that can benefit the soil and if feces were all that got flushed down the toilet, land application could be a good idea. As it is, we really have no idea what each batch of sludge produced at HRM's plants will contain because we can't monitor what goes down the drain of every household, business, and hospital on a daily basis. As citizens and consumers, we should demand labelling on products grown or livestock fed on land that has been contaminated with biosolids. We should also follow the lead of some of our European and American neighbours and demand a moratorium on sludge spreading on agricultural lands. We might even think about the benefits of a composting toilet. With a global food shortage looming, Nova Scotia needs to protect its precious farmlands from contamination. The alternative is unthinkable.
By Elizabeth Peirce