April 2016 • Country Life in BC 43
April Fool's? It's no joke in my neck of the woods;
spring came so early I was picking pussy willows in
The premature arrival of spring has not been
good. Early break-up (in spite of a decent snowpack)
the earth just
sucked up all
the run-o. The soil was in dire need of moisture. Last
year’s long, dry, hot summer and fall left behind a
parched and thirsty landscape in need of
rejuvenation. Water is a valuable commodity; the
days when we could aord to waste it are long gone.
Bull sales have dominated cattle sales, with some
lighter yearling cattle starting to show up at the odd
The high sellers at Pine Butte Ranch’s 21st annual
bull sale, February 20 in Kamloops, was Lot 22 who
sold to Mike Bayli of Alexis Creek for a whopping
$10,500.00. Douglas Lake paid $9,500.00 for Lot 11.
Volume buyers included Douglas Lake Cattle Co.,
Gang Ranch, Frolek Cattle Co., D-M Ranch, Mike
Bayli, Springeld Ranch, Spear Ranch (U.S.) and
Hilltop Ranch (SK).
The Prime Time Cattle Co. and Cutting Edge Cattle
Co. Bull Sale, March 5 in Williams Lake, was one of the
quickest sales in the country. Fifty-seven head went
under the hammer in just under 90 minutes.
Jason and Bev Kelly’s high seller, Prime Time Tater
420, went to Cli Hinsche of 141 Mile Ranch for
$6,500.00. Ken and Debbie Ilnicki paid $6,200 for
Prime Time HD Liner 417.
Wayne and Tiany Pincott sold Cutting Edge
Eldorado 498B to the Chezacut Ranch for $5,900.00.
Cutting Edge 117X Master 496B also went
Chezacut’s way for $5,700.00.
A great lunch preceeded the Harvest Angus (and
guests) Bull Sale, March 12, in Williams Lake. Heart of
the Valley Farms sold Red Pacic North to Clyde 48C
to Larry Spence for $8,800.00. Red Pacic Goldspike
28C went to Monte and Darlene Furber for $7,700.00.
Wetering Black Angus of Quesnel paid $7,300.00
for Tom and Carolyn Dewaal’s Harvest Tourman 21C.
Dewaal’s consigned the high selling female that
went to Royce and Joanne Cook for $3,900.00.
Rob and Tina Stoward’s RRTS Charolais Bull Sale in
Kamloops, March 8, saw RRTS Gone Country 39C go
Keith Cunningham’s way for $6,600.00. Peter
Threscher paid $6,400.00 for RRTS Canteen 38C.
Volume buyers included Coldstream Ranch, Spear
Ranch, Ellis Cattle Co., Gardner Ranch and Peter
Fred and Barb Watkinson paid $10,500.00 for top
seller Taka 3A Backdraft 68C at Wayne and Jill
Hughes’ Angus Advantage Bull Sale in Kamloops,
March 19. Wild Rose Ranch was the volume buyer
with 12 bulls. Prices were strong overall.
Ranchers paying top dollar at spring bull sales
Scientists’ Open Letter on the Dangers of Biosolids (2016)
The land disposal of sewage sludge (aka Biosolids) has
resulted in signicant controversy, and a resistance
movement is rightfully building to this misguided policy.
Quite simply, the science doesn't support the disposal of
sewage sludge across the landscape. The supposed
benets are more than offset by the risks toward human and
environmental health. As scientists, we have been watching
the issue with increasing concern.
An unimaginably large number of chemical and biological
contaminants exist in these materials, and they persist in the
product up to, and after, land disposal. Scientic
investigations have identied only a tiny fraction of the total
contaminant load. We cannot even say with any degree of
condence what the true range of contaminant risk is from
the sludge. Call it an “unknown unknown.” Because of
potential synergistic interactions between the contaminants
in the sludge, the risks are largely unknowable.
Most public discussions of the chemical contaminants in
sewage sludge involve well known groups such as heavy
metals, ame retardants, and pharmaceuticals, among many
others. But these are just the contaminants we have
identied. To refer to our current knowledge base as the tip
of the iceberg would be grossly overestimating how much
we actually do know.
Regulators and others
– including elected ofcials – up
and down the policy chain appear to lack a real appreciation
for the scope of the problem, and the costs of beginning to
understand it. If a city were to test the sludge just once for
all possible contaminants in the material, the bill would be
well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. You are not
going to nd a problem if you don't look for it. Of course,
over time, that problem may also come looking for you.
To illustrate the difculties, take just one group of
persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic compounds known to
be in sewage sludge at high concentrations: brominated
ame retardants. Perhaps the most well known sub-class of
the brominated ame retardants are called polybrominated
diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). There are 209 different PBDEs, each
of which has a unique toxicology and environmental fate.
PBDEs have been studied around the world for several
decades, yet we still have a very poor understanding of the
true risks from their release into the environment.
This is just one contaminant class among many. There
are also 209 different members of the PCBs. Similarly, add in
another 210 chlorinated dioxin “congeners.” The total
number of contaminants in sewage sludge climbs as we
begin to consider that effectively all current and legacy
industrial chemicals end up in our sewage, and during the
treatment process they move into the sludge. If we apply the
sludge to the land, we have transferred our toxic efuent
onto the landscape. Then add on all pharmaceuticals and
personal care products, as well as any other compound we
use in the home or at work, and all their potential
degradation products. The complexity discussed so far just
touches on the chemical contaminants. Add to that the
massive numbers of biological contaminants -- bacteria,
viruses, prions, etc. The current and future problem is
inconceivably large, particularly since the human population
is producing sewage sludge at a rapidly growing rate.
Those from the large public and private sector industry
that has developed around marketing and selling sewage
sludge for land disposal
– which we collectively term Big
Sludge -- claim the materials are “non-toxic” and a resource
to be cherished, not shunned. The state of the science does
not agree with this oversimplication.
While there have been some attempts to review the
science surrounding sewage sludge, these are generally
wanting. Either the reviews are out-of-date and incomplete,
failing to account for all that we do know about emerging
contaminants and what we don't know about all
contaminants, or they are written more as promotional
materials for Big Sludge in an attempt to sell the product to
an ever more sceptical public.
What should we do in response to all these concerns?
Immediately halt the land disposal of sewage sludge as a
starting point, and begin either stockpiling or landlling the
material in secure locations with full leachate collection
systems until a more responsible means of dealing with the
problem is implemented. In the meantime, the science must
continue in an effort to better understand the risks and to
develop more effective treatment technologies.
We also see municipalities and regional districts talking
about the revenue stream from selling their sludge for land dis-
posal, but are they telling the taxpayers they are supposed to
represent about the very large potential risks from the knowing
and wilful contamination of lands, waters, and the atmosphere
that arises from these choices? Increased health care costs,
decreased property values, and toxic tort lawsuits have collective
liabilities to Big Sludge over time that far outweigh the relatively
small cash ows currently coming in to the public purse.
Governments are playing Russian roulette with sewage
sludge, and over time there is a high probability this game
will be lost at the public's expense.
Sierra Rayne, PhD, John Werring, MSc, RPBio
Richard Honour, PhD , Steven R. Vincent, PhD
Sierra Rayne is an independent scientist; John Werring is
a senior science and policy advisor for the David Suzuki
Foundation; Richard Honour is the executive director for The
Precautionary Group; Steven R. Vincent is the Louise Brown
Professor of Neuroscience with the Department of Psychiatry
at the University of British Columbia.
For more on this important issue, please see www.biosolidsbc.com and www.sludgefacts.org
A full house
their toes at