Senator Gordon Smith Irrigates Crops with Sewage

Over at Open Left, blogger Matt Stoller has posted about Gordon Smith's frozen food company irrigating cropland with partially treated sewage water:

I just got a Sierra Club press release with some very gross information about Gordon Smith's company, Smith Frozen Foods. Apparently, Smith Frozen Foods started storing partially treated sewage from the town of Weston into his company's wastewater pond in the 1980s, when Smith was directly controlling the company. That's fine, it's what companies do when they have lots of land and the ability to handle partially treated sewage. Here's what's not fine.
This water is then used to irrigate cropland, in violation of Department of Environmental Quality regulations. A mutual agreement between Smith and the [Department of Environmental Quality] indicates that this irrigation likely violated state regulations.

There's more.

On more than one occasion, Smith Frozen Foods, the company owned by Gordon Smith, has violated Oregon's laws against having coliform bacteria in their drinking water. The presence of coliform bacteria may indicate environmental contamination, fecal contamination or E. coli bacteria.

What is coliform bacteria?

Coliform bacteria are organisms that are present in the environment and in the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans.

Update: On Sunday, the Oregonian ran a story about the increasing use of "biosolids" - using human solid waste to fertilize fields. But there's one very important fact:

State regulations forbid using treated sewage on crops intended for human consumption. DeLano uses it to fertilize hay.

Read the rest at Open Left. Discuss.

Comments

  • Sargent (unverified)
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    Sounds like a twist on "Let them eat cake."

  • RNinOR (unverified)
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    canned pee?

  • mandm (unverified)
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    Having lived in Pendleton/Weston/Athena in the "good ole days", Jacks are alive and well, including Gordon.

  • johnnie (unverified)
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    There is no such thing as partially treated water. Lagoon treatment is an appropriate "green" treatment technology, low energy, low carbon foot print.

    It's appropriate to irrigate crops with reclaimed water. In fact reclaimed water from lagoon treatment plants are often cleaner than irrigation water. Incidentally, using treated effluent reduces pesticides used on crops.

    On the other hand, Rock Creek Treatment plant is a high end treatment plant that requires Alum, mined in Utah and trucked to Portland in order to meet extremely high end treated water, or should I say just a bit above partially treated wastewater? Carbon footprint is HUGE, not to mention mining the Earth's limited resources is required.

    Why do environmental groups go after 5% of the problem (wastewater treatment) with a vengence anyway? 95% of all pollution into our waterways comes from public lands and non-reclaimed water agricultural runoff.

    It always amazes me how people will go yell and get disgusted at Smith Frozen Foods and yet pollute their environment around them. Politics has a way of making people loose thier cognitive skills.

    Sort of like yelling at Bush and his LEED certified ranch house compared to Gore's monstrosity of a carbon footprint he calls home.

  • lw (unverified)
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    Johnie, thanks for stating what the environmental movement is missing-common sense. The movement seems to be shooting itself in the foot.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    Johnnie --

    It doesn't really matter. Gordon Smith is violating the law. No human waste on food for humans.

    It's not more complicated than that.

  • undomesticator (unverified)
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    Johnnie, taking a rational iNTj approach will only draw big fire from both sides. More than they reserve for each other.

    Unfortunately, one has to conclude that in-group out-group behavior is more central to primate socialization than constructing veridical models of the world. The models aren't supposed to be factually correct, only politically correct.

    Raygun's gaff is no doubt the unconscious belief of most pols. "Facts are stupid things".

    Maybe a pseudo-issue, though. Political parties only exist as shorthand. If you can't study every issue or understand the issues, you vote with a group you trust. Political parties have logos like animals because the assumption was that people couldn't read. Bottom line, politics doesn't proceed based on rational facts because it's not for people that have/can use/care about, rational facts.

    Eisenhower was the exception that proves the rule. Madison was pretty rational. Lincoln, except when he wasn't. Grant, when he was sober. That's about it.

    Ultimately the pols' take is, "you want me to act like Eisenhower?" Well, yes.

    OK. All the regulars in chorus, "that's the dumbest thing I've ever..."

  • undomesticator (unverified)
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    Johnnie, taking a rational iNTj approach will only draw big fire from both sides. More than they reserve for each other.

    Unfortunately, one has to conclude that in-group out-group behavior is more central to primate socialization than constructing veridical models of the world. The models aren't supposed to be factually correct, only politically correct.

    Raygun's gaff is no doubt the unconscious belief of most pols. "Facts are stupid things".

    Maybe a pseudo-issue, though. Political parties only exist as shorthand. If you can't study every issue or understand the issues, you vote with a group you trust. Political parties have logos like animals because the assumption was that people couldn't read. Bottom line, politics doesn't proceed based on rational facts because it's not for people that have/can use/care about, rational facts.

    Eisenhower was the exception that proves the rule. Madison was pretty rational. Lincoln, except when he wasn't. Grant, when he was sober. That's about it.

    Ultimately the pols' take is, "you want me to act like Eisenhower?" Well, yes.

    OK. All the regulars in chorus, "that's the dumbest thing I've ever..."

  • Sparky (unverified)
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    Johnnie, methinks thou dost parseth too much. Whether you call it partial or primary or secondary treatment isn't really the point is it?

    According to the National Research Council report Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in Food Crop Production(1996), every treatment short of tertiary leaves significant amounts of pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.). Here's a link to the appropriate table in the report: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=5175&page=91

    TABLE 5.2 Typical Numbers of Microorganisms Found in Various Stages of Wastewater and Sludge Treatment and a table, which may not paste very well into the Blue Oregon site, but you get the idea.

    Number Per 100 ml Of Effluent

    Numbers Per Gram of Sludge

    Microbe Raw Sewage Primary Treatment Secondary Treatment Tertiarya Treatment Raw Digestedb

    Fecal coliform MPNc 1,000,000,000 10,000,000 1,000,000 <2 10,000,000 1,000,000

    Salmonella MPN 8,000 800 8 <2 1,800 18

    Shigella MPN 1,000 100 1 <2 220 3

    Enteric virus PFUd 50,000 15,000 1,500 0.002 1,400 210

    Helminth ova 800 80 0.08 <0.08 30 10

    Giardia lamblia cysts 10,000 5,000 2,500 3 140 43

    a Includes coagulation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection

    b Mesophilic anaerobic digestion.

    c MPN = Most Probable Number

    d PFU = Plaque-forming units

    SOURCES: EPA, 1991 and 1992a; Dean and Smith, 1973; Feachem et al., 1980; Engineering Science, 1987; Gerba, 1983 and Logsdon et al., 1985.

    So Johnnie, the questions I have are: To what level was the municipal sewage in Weston treated? When intermixed with the processing plant's effluent, what were the concentration levels of organic and inorganic pollutants? Did the combination of municipal sewage and effluent result in any unforseen or hazardous conditions? Who authorized, in contravention of DEQ regs, (and possibly the Clean Water Act) the application of the wastewater and associated pollutants to the food crops? And on an entirely personal note, What food crops from Eastern Oregon should I now forego? While some crops(potatoes) may be cleansed by cooking, others (melons) are generally eaten raw and would seem to put the consumer in more jeopardy. And having once danced with the giardia beast, I have no interest in experiencing an encore.

    Perhaps they should just spray the stuff on adjacent golf course and advise the golfers' not to lick their balls.

  • RW (unverified)
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    Kidlings, once again it's like watching a scattergun's many paths in slo-mo.

    I believe the internal thrust of this post is to point out yet another area in which Smith flouts the law.

    If it's not sound agri-science, then Mr. Smith NEEDS to go to Washington with substantive science on that score. Change the law. And then begin to fecalize our foods.

    The point to the post is not the science or even ingroup/outgroup (this is an abuse of Gordon Allport's seminal work on this, by the way) dynamic under discussion.

    It's another area in which Smith, in business, is not maintaining a sound relationship with the law.

    <h2>Am I missing something here?</h2>
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