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EPA issues order to Guam Waterworks Authority for improper use of sewage sludge

Release Date: 04/19/2007
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(04/19/07) HONOLULU - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently issued an order to the Guam Waterworks Authority for improperly reusing sewage sludge from its Northern District Sewage Treatment Plant.

The EPA found sewage sludge from the treatment plant was distributed in violation of the Clean Water Act. Sludge of an unknown quality was distributed between January and August 2006 to several individuals for use on fruit trees and bushes

“Although biosolids can be recycled, GWA needs to carry out specific requirements to ensure its safe use,” said Alexis Strauss, director for the EPA Pacific Southwest region’s Water Division. “It is vital proper biosolids testing be completed to protect the public, farmers and Guam's island environment.”

The sewage sludge was not shown to have met pollutant limits, or pathogen reduction and vector attraction reduction requirements. It is also not known if the sludge was applied properly or site and harvesting restrictions observed.

The order prohibits GWA from using the sludge for land application without prior EPA approval and requires notification to the land owners of site and harvesting restrictions. GWA also needs to provide a description of exactly how the sewage sludge was applied and have tests done measuring sludge quality with respect to pollutants and pathogens.

When properly treated and processed, sewage sludge becomes biosolids which can be safely recycled and applied as fertilizer to improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth. Only biosolids that meet stringent federal and state standards can be approved for use as a fertilizer.

For more information on biosolids, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/owm/mtb/biosolids/

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