“It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest.”
But what do we call a dyspeptic avian that also shits in its neighbors nest?
Unfortunately, that’s a question we need to ask ourselves. . .
Way back in the spring of 1987, the tugboat Break of Dawn, towing a garbage scow hauling 3,186 pounds of refuse, sailed from New York harbor moving south along the east coast to a port in North Carolina where plans called for its cargo to be dumped and turned into methane gas by a private contractor.
When the barge and its crew were refused entry at Morehead City, the vessel became a putrid pariah – an odoriferous international symbol of the byproduct of malignant overdevelopment and the growing problem of what to do with it – bobbing around the Atlantic and Caribbean like a fetid Flying Dutchman, turned away from ports in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Belize and the Bahamas.
Ultimately, the ill-fated vessel returned to New York where its cargo was burned; however, the resulting publicity began discussions that led to residential recycling programs nationwide.
Then, in a 2013 scandal, the South Carolina Ethics Commission discovered that several state senators were accepting large campaign contributions from waste management firms in the Northeast. In turn, garbage from New York and New Jersey – including suspected human waste – was being dumped in the Palmetto State, a lucrative arrangement in which the New York Department of Sanitation paid out-of-state landfills some $112 per ton in 2012 dollars.
That added up to millions-of-dollars annually.
Remember a few years back when what became known as the “poop train” hauling New York City sewage sludge became stranded in the small hamlet of Parrish, Alabama?
A 2018 Associated Press article aptly described the smelly mess:
“In Parrish, Alabama, population 982, the sludge-hauling train cars have sat idle near the little league ball fields for more than two months, Mayor Heather Hall said. The smell is unbearable, especially around dusk after the atmosphere has become heated, she said. “Oh my goodness, it’s just a nightmare here,” she said. “It smells like rotting corpses, or carcasses. It smells like death.”
Due to the astronomical amount of hazardous waste being dumped there, a former Alabama attorney general once described the state as “America’s pay toilet.”
If you think the Sunshine State – or Volusia County – is immune to these problems. Think again.
According to a state permitting application, Volusia-based American Bioclean, Inc. is currently seeking permission from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to allow processed human waste – known by the more marketable moniker “Biosolids” in the “residual management” industry – to be hauled from Volusia County and dumped on sensitive land located less than two-miles from Crescent Lake and Silver Lake in South Putnam County.
According to www.nohumansewage.com :
“Class B Biosolids sewage/sludge may contain dangerous heavy metals, carcinogens, radioactive waste, neurotoxins, disease causing bacteria and antibiotic resistant pathogens. It is basically made up of any waste that gets poured down your drain and septic, which can include medical waste, industrial waste and more. This is a highly controversial issue that has landed itself in our backyards. Townships all over the country are desperately trying to stop the spread of this hazardous, concentrated human waste.”
The proposed dump site for Volusia’s bacteria-laden sludge is located near Crescent City in south Putnam County, off Old Highway 17 – property which, according to the Environmental Coalition of Putnam County, contains a “…stream that drains from Silver Lake and runs straight to Crescent Lake at a place called Hurricane Point.”
Ultimately, Crescent Lake – which is on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s list of impaired waterways – feeds into the St. Johns River.
According to www.dontpooponputnam.org :
“Allowing biosolids to be applied in such close proximity to the lake and watershed, which is already impaired, would be detrimental to the ecosystem, and not honor the TMDL that was put in place to protect it.
If we want to protect the natural resources that make this area the gem that it is, there need to be better protections to safeguard them. No one will want to come to this area or be on the water when algal blooms cause massive fish and bird kills due to elevated phosphorus levels from runoff from Class B Biosolids/Sewage Sludge dumping.”
In 2018, a massive toxic algal bloom at Blue Cypress Lake in Indian River County – at the headwaters of the threatened St. Johns River – was attributed to runoff from agriculturally applied South Florida Class B biosolids.
That is the same blue-green algae that is believed responsible for the ulcerated lesions recently found on fish in Lake George and various West Volusia springs along the St. Johns. . .
In my view, the residents of Putnam County are right to oppose the outside dumping of our human waste on their environmentally sensitive land – and many have signed a petition asking local and state officials to prohibit the practice – a move supported by a recent resolution by the City of Crescent City requesting that the Florida Department of Environmental Protect and Putnam County reject the permit request.
It is high time that elected and appointed officials throughout Volusia County get serious about the deleterious effects of nutrient pollution on the Indian River Lagoon, St. Johns River, and beyond – doing something beyond donning their LL Bean waders for a convenient photo-op – and aggressively employ the legislative process to limit septic leaching and stop the use of sewage sludge near threatened wetlands and estuaries – here and elsewhere.
In my view, that begins with considering reasonable limits on the malignant overdevelopment that has permitted hundreds of cracker box houses in zero-lot-line “theme” communities to be built on top of our aquifer recharge areas and sensitive wetlands – and influencing our state and federal legislative delegation to push for stronger biosolid management regulations.
Look, I rarely agree with News-Journal editor Pat Rice – about anything – but his Sunday indulgence naming “growth and development” as the greatest driver of local news is completely accurate.
“While many people like what Margaritaville and the growing west side are bringing to Daytona Beach, just as many people don’t like the rapid growth, They question whether it’s really adding value to the area. And yes, the developers building all those new home and stores on Daytona Beach’s west side are prominent.
Growth and development will continue to drive the news in Volusia and Flagler counties, and it will continue to create equal parts happiness (people like new places to eat and shop, and businesses like new customers) and conflict (people are genuinely worried that the area’s growth is negatively impacting them).”
Equal parts? Really?
Because I rarely speak with anyone who says, “Wow, it was great sitting through three cycles of those traffic lights on LPGA today!”
In the view of many, Volusia County is reaching critical mass – and the negative impact of overdevelopment is being felt everywhere you look – including the near gridlocked traffic on area thoroughfares, increasing demands on essential government services (like our struggling emergency medial system), and the continuing destruction of our remaining greenspace and wildlife habitats.
As the bulldozers continue to roar. . .
Now, as this disturbing story out of Putnam County points out – we can no longer cram ten-pounds of shit into a 5-pound bag – and it is clear that those who make their living dealing in our waste are having a tough time finding room for more.