Wednesday, April 7, 2010
A national environmental group is focusing attention on a San Francisco program that transforms human waste into backyard compost, calling the program little more than a scheme to sling toxic toilet sludge back at the people who produced it.
The hullabaloo is over a program by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which once a month distributes biosolid compost to gardeners, school groups and homeowners for free. The commission claims the compost is heat-treated fertilizer that is as good as the stuff sold in gardening stores.
But the Organic Consumers Association insists that the sacks given out to San Franciscans contain a stew of excrement and toxic chemicals from the sewer.
"The problem with sewage sludge or the euphemistic term 'biosolids' that they use is that all of this is hazardous material that potentially contains thousands and thousands of contaminants," said John Stauber, a member of the group's advisory board and the author of several articles and a book on sewage sludge. "Everything that goes in the sewer potentially ends up in it."