Sewage Sludge Fertilizer Upsetting Neighbors

LEBANON TOWNSHIP – People living in a community north of Honesdale say something smells funny in their neighborhood.  They say an area farmer is using sewage sludge to fertilize about 100 acres of land and they’re worried that mixture may be hurting the environment.

The mixture neighbors are referring to in Lebanon Township is biosolid fertilizer.  A farmer in Wayne County is using the treated human waste to help his hay crops.

The Department of Environmental Protection says this is allowed in Pennsylvania, but some neighbors still have some serious concerns.

Take a walk through Dan Fuchs’ back yard north of Honesdale and it doesn’t take long to sense a certain stench in the air, different than the farm smells he’s used to.

“Well, it smells like sewage, if there was such a thing as smell-o-vision I think it would knock your viewers off their chairs,” said Fuchs.

Fuchs says the smell is coming from this field where his neighbor is spreading what he calls sludge.

It’s actually biosolids – a mix of treated human waste and additives according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Jim Check lives just down the road here in Lebanon Township and cares for this nearby property as well.  Check says they found not once but twice a large fish kill here and waste products in the fertilizer.

“It’s sold to us in topsoil, and we’re finding applicators in it, and also septic debris in it.   It just doesn’t seem right to me,” said Check, who is president of the Wilderness Lake Association.

One property owner says he’s been doing everything by the books as he spreads this biosolid fertilizer across his farm in Wayne County.

“We’re staying in our designated watershed, and I wait till it’s cold to put it on. I even spread it in the rain the other days that the odor wouldn’t be bad,” said property owner Bill Pykus.

Pykus owns this farmland and says Enviro-Ventures Inc. has been spreading the biosolids for about ten years because it’s more economical.

The company’s owner says he’s never contaminated a watershed with his products.

“No, we’re very, very cautious as to where we land apply, the farms that we will land apply on. I personally, as the owner of the company, go out to each site and inspect it and there’s some sites that I won’t pass,” said Enviro-Ventures Inc. owner Ned Lang.

The DEP has investigated reports of bad smells in the area and found nothing wrong, but says if residents have proof of other problems they should report it.

Again bio olids are an acceptable fertilizer according to the Department of Environmental Protection.  Officials at the DEP say if any well water tests are contaminated in this part of Wayne County that those individuals should give them a call.

17 comments

  • Kelly Ashland

    i don’t like the use of bio-solids but the farmer is following the letter of the law, so let him alone. if you don’t like the smell of crap or cant handle it move or just don’t move within 5 miles of a farm. these people act like my new neighbors from the city, they don’t want any wildlife coming within 500ft of there home, and try and kill any they see. when we live in a town that is 1500ft wide and surrounded by forest. if you don’t like something about an area don’t move there and then complain about

  • danny

    this material is not treated for hospital waste or hospital waste. You dont know whats in it. Lot of reports in South Carolina that has stopped this practice as it was linked to ecoli and water shed pollution. If they treat it before they spread it then it would not smell and be safe, but that cost money and no one wants to pay. If this practice is not regulated and monitered then people will get sick and die…

    • Old McDonald

      The news anchor stated the DEP had already inspected the area, after these complaints, and found no violations. Therefore I would shut my mouth and stop compaining about problems that don’t exist. Its funny that everyone needs to bad mouth the farmer,but they have no experience themselves.

      • myra dotson

        I have 30 years of experience…. toxic sewage sludge poisons wells, farmland, kills livestock, makes people sick…. I have had pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, MRSA… and have had to leave my home on many occasions…. a creek running thru my land is poisoned…. it will poison the farmer’s land…. the farmer is not being told of all the poisons and heavy metals in sludge…. if the farmer wants to put his land in jeopardy … then put down toxic sludge… you will lose your land !!!
        Myra Dotson
        Sewage Sludge Action Network

      • Dyra Motson

        Myra you work in health care right? 85% of all cases of MRSA are contracted due to health care. The creek near your house is poisoned with what? Broad brush strokes here. Since over 60% of all sludge produced from our rear ends is land applied. Sounds like an epidemic! All these poor dumb farmers will loose their land! THANK GOD WE HAVE SOMEONE AS SMART AND WELL EDUCATED AS YOU TO SHOW US SHEEP THE WAY. You are full of SH&^T.

  • smith

    It is farm country up there and if you do not like it then go back where you came from. 10 years they have been spreading this and now people are complaining sounds like the complainers have some other problem with these people. Support the farmer!!

  • Janet Den Haese Anderson

    to suggest that people should move if they don’t like it is preposterous. Were they informed when they bought that they would be smelling this crap?? I doubt it. But the farmer should be more in tune with the complaints.

    • Jim McDonald

      The farm has been there for many decades. The Wilderness Housing Development thirty years or so. When you move into a rural farm community one has to expect certain “things”. When the people complaining purchased their “acre of happiness” they had to travel past the Pykus Farm. I stand by my statement, move if a few days a year cause you problems. I would rather have a farm as a neighbor.

  • Jim McDonald

    There is nothing wrong with spreading biosolids. Ned Lang spreads on my neighbors property twice a year. I can tolerate the smell for a few days. Maybe those in the Wilderness Development would rather have 50 homes on the farm field. 50 septic systems, 50 wells and lots of kids. Give the farmer a break, the farm was there before you moved up here from the city…….

    • Joe

      50 years ago sewage sludge( or the PC correct term “biosolids”) may have been harmless. Today, aside from the stench, they are most likely laced with traces of medication and drugs of all varieties. Sorry I prefer not to have them in my food chain !

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