Council Members Hope Sludge Concerns Can Be 'Put to Rest'

Environmental specialist David Crohn addresses Menifee City Council members before a large crowd a...

Environmental specialist David Crohn addresses Menifee City Council members before a large crowd at Tuesday's biosolids workshop.
After listening to three hours of testimony from county and environmental experts, Menifee City Council members Tuesday expressed satisfaction that the community does not face health dangers from any presence of biosolids -- commonly referred to as sludge -- in the city.

A professor of environmental science at UC Riverside, the director of the Riverside County Environmental Health Department and an EPA consultant all reported that there is no evidence of contaminated soil that would pose a health risk to residents. All this was part of a city council workshop intended to address concerns posed by some citizens in recent years.

Many of those concerned citizens were among the 16 residents who addressed the council during the meeting, which took place in the packed city council chambers prior to the council's regular meeting. If their comments are an indication, this controversy is not going away.

"I believe you've surrounded yourself with wonderful speakers who have made this seem like fairy dust," said Susan Rood, a resident of the Mapleton development south of Scott Road and a cancer survivor who believes her disease is the result of the dumping of sludge on local farm lands as fertilizer -- a legal practice in the area until 2001, when the use of Class B (virtually untreated) sludge was banned.

"I feel like you're trying to brush this away. It looks like you went to a lot of work to make this situation looks good; it's not."

Rood disputed a map displayed by city staff members and provided by county officials, showing a very limited number of areas that were ever the site of the application of sludge -- treated human waste that was once used by some farmers to fertilize crops. She said she has witnessed the dumping of what she believes is toxic waste onto Menifee soil.
Resident Marc Miller expresses his concern about
what he believes is contaminated soil in Menifee.

None of those who expressed concerns provided photos or documentation proving their claims, however. While thanking those residents for their concern, council members said they believed the expert testimony was convincing evidence that there is no health hazard present.

"I am a cancer survivor," said deputy mayor Wallace Edgerton. "You'd better believe I've done some research on whether I should stay in Menifee. I want to thank the people who continue to ask questions, but fear can be a factor that can hurt you. We have to make sure people don't have an unwarranted fear."

Said council member John Denver: "I hope this is over and we can move on to the next issue."

David Crohn, an associ