Finding solutions for the problem of sludge disposal

Critics of the use of sludge in bricks say that even if the measure were adopted on a wide scale it would take care of only a fraction of the sludge generated in the United States each day. `True,'' says Tom Stumm of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which supplied the sludge used in the trial production of biobricks. ``But this comes from people who are looking for a one-shot solution to the problem.

``We have passed the stage,'' he says, ``where one-shot solutions are possible. We must use every option available to us.''

Mr. Stumm's contention was born out by a speaker at the recent recycling and waste conference put on by BioCycle magazine in Philadelphia last May.

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In detailing how relatively clean (low in heavy metals) the sludge under her jurisdiction was being handled, Helen Pettit-Chase of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, indicated it could be applied as a fertilizer for the next 40 years. After that the limits on the land's ability to accept the metals would have been reached.

``What happens then?'' came a question from the floor.

``After that, if we haven't found other solutions,'' she replied, ``the ship sinks.''

``Then why bother?'' came a second response.

``So that it doesn't sink tomorrow!''

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