Home owner complains about smelly sewer sludge being used as fertilizer

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FARMINGTON, MO (KTVI) – A Farmington, Missouri woman is up in arms after city sewer sludge was spread across her neighbor’s property. She said the horrendous smell made her family sick.  Farmington has two sewage treatment plants that treat human waste. If farmers want the sludge, it will be spread on their fields to fertilizer crops like hay.  The sludge is not used on crops humans consume.  Living next door to one of the fields can be devastation to a person’s nose.  Melissa Pigg lives next to a field where the sludge was spread, “The smell is almost like death, like a thousand porta potties put in the field.”

She bought her house six months ago, now her dream home is turning into a nightmare.  Pigg said, “The first time I smelled it I actually vomited.”

Pigg said the city of Farmington took sludge from the treatment plant and spread it on the hay fields of her neighbor and the smell was horrible.  When she mowed her field adjacent to her neighbor’s property she became violently ill.  Pigg said, “While I was mowing it all flew up on me chunks of black tar about 8 hours later I became very ill I had severe vomiting, diarrhea. I’m very concerned, this is scary.”

Farmington city officials agree the latest round of sludge awful smell is because spring rains delayed everything.  City Administrator Greg Beavers said, “As we store it an ages it sours and develops a very foul odor.” The city administrator said they don’t plan to spread the smelly sludge anymore. The Environmental Protection Agency said the sludge spreading process is legal and happens in towns across the country.

Pigg worries that even if there’s no smell she’s found in her research sludge contains chemicals that can harm people, even cause cancer.  The city administrator is skeptical.  Beavers said, “We know it’s safe we have been spreading sludge from this particular plant since 1974 in Farmington as does every community across the United States.”

Pigg added, “Who’s going to protect my babies if I don’t take a stand.” She is considering hiring a lawyer, and she’s hoping her neighbor begins using a different fertilizing process.