ZERO WASTE is the recycling of all materials back into nature or the marketplace in a manner that protects human health and the environment.



Toxic Wastes 'Recycled' as Fertilizer

SOURCE: Pennsylvania Consumer Action Network

NEWS RELEASE- March 26, 1998

Toxic Wastes 'Recycled' as Fertilizer
Threaten Pennsylvania Farms and Food Supply
Dioxin, Lead, Mercury Secretly Spread on Crops

[Harrisburg, PA] -- Under the guise of 'recycling,' millions of pounds of
toxic waste are shipped each year from polluting industries to fertilizer
manufacturers and farmers, who secretly-- and legally -- add dioxin,
lead, mercury and other hazardous chemicals to the fertilizers applied to U.S.

According to an analysis of federal and state data released today by the
Pennsylvania Consumer Action Network (PCAN) and written by  the
Environmental Working Group (EWG), between 1990 and 1995 more than 200 fertilizer
companies or farms in 36 states received shipments of toxic waste totaling 271
million pounds.

The report, Factory Farming: Toxic Waste and Fertilizer in the United
States, says in that period more than 510,000 pounds of toxic waste were shipped
to fertilizer companies or farms in Pennsylvania.  And, the report says,
Armco, Inc. of  Sharon was the nation's 8th-largest supplier of toxic waste to
farms and fertilizer plants, shipping out 7,534,950 pounds of waste for
"recycling" from 1990 to 1995. The report lists the polluting industries that shipped
the most such waste and the fertilizer companies that received the most.

"Not only does the EPA and the Pennsylvania DEP allow these chemicals to
be used in the fertilizers that go on our crops, in most states citizens
don't even have the right to know what's being used," said Michael Morrill,
PCAN executive director. "In this case, 'recycling' is like money- laundering:
Send your toxic waste to a fertilizer company and it comes out clean."

Because of loopholes in the federal toxics laws, EWG found that it is
impossible to account for all uses of the toxic waste shipped to
fertilizer companies. Some facilities that received the waste only make fertilizer,
but others produce a variety of inorganic chemicals.

However, in a series of investigative articles, The Seattle Times has
documented the nationwide use of cadmium, lead, arsenic, dioxins,
radionuclides and other hazardous waste in fertilizer. Tests by the State
of Washington found that some fertilizers contained more toxic waste than
some Superfund sites -- up to 100 times the state's cleanup standard for
dioxin, the most toxic substance known to science.

In response to those findings, Washington, California, Idaho, New Jersey,
North Dakota, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas  have laws or
regulations in the works to limit toxic waste in fertilizer. Most of the proposals
would still not provide consumers with as much protection as Canadian law,
which places the burden on fertilizer companies to prove that their products
are safe. Many European nations have even stricter laws.

"Anyone who uses fertilizer has the right to know what is in it, and
whether it was made from toxic waste," said Ken Cook, a soils scientist who is
president of Washington-based EWG. "But beyond this basic public right to
know, state and federal health officials must protect our farms, farm
families and our nation's food supply from toxic chemical contamination."


The Pennsylvania Consumer Action Network (PCAN) is Pennsylvania’s
independent consumer and environmental advocate, working on issues such as clean
government, utilities, insurance and other areas of consumer interest.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit environmental
research organization based in Washington, D.C.

The full national report, Factory Farming: Toxic Waste and Fertilizer in
the United States, 1990-1995 is available on the Internet at .

Michael Morrill, PCAN
(610) 775- 5958
Todd Hettenbach, EWG
(202) 667-6982
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