It’s never nice to lie, especially when the lie is about something being organic fertilizer when it’s not in fact organic fertilizer — and made from human fecal matter at that. But is it nice to dump said fertilizer on the august halls of government — when really, it’s the bureaucracy (in a different building) that’s to blame?
A band of outraged “community gardeners saying they’ve been misled into accepting toxic sewage sludge from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC),” will at 12 pm noon today don Hazmat suits and gloves and dump said “sludge” — fertilizer the SFPUC has rendered from, among other things, municipal waste, and handed out for free twice a year since 2007 — onto a tarp placed on the steps of City Hall, so as to make a point without *actually* befouling anything.
They say the “biosolids” community gardeners pick up free at SFPUC wastewater facilities is in fact hella bad, filled from “hazardous materials” from places like Solano and Fresno, where one can find “heavy industriy… giant oil refineries, metals industries and chemical plants” as well as some of the farms that also occupy California’s most fertile counties. Another local environmental crusader’s taken up the call and ran with it, saying that radioactive gunk from the Hunters Point shipyard is in there, too.
The PUC is taking this seriously (all except the radioactive part). They’ve admitted fudging about the whole organic thing — turns out they were referring to the molecules of carbon which comprise the biosolids, which they say is “mostly organic,” and never had any certification from the USDA guaranteeing that.
But, they say, come on: it’s not like we gave away raw sewage. It’s bona fide fertilizer, just like what you get at the store, approved by the EPA and safe to use on plants, gardens and now civic buildings.
Nasty or not, the stuff apparently works: one presumably local farmer who did not give his or her name for “fear of retaliation from the city” said in a press release he or she “used the biosolids for two straight years” before somebody said it was made from poop, and guess where poop comes from?
If any untruthful PUC material exists, it was removed from the Web before Wednesday. A flyer advertising the giveaway dated “Summer 2009” makes no mention of “organic,” but does say the smelly magic grow dirt comes from multiple sources, including the Central Valley.
After making a mess and cleaning it up, the politicking planters will deliver a letter to Mayor Gavin Newsom, asking him to halt the city’s biosolid giveaway program and demanding he get down and dirty with paying to “clean up the school yards and backyard gardens that have been contaminated.” (The PUC’s already halted the program.)
It’s unclear how much of a movement is in the works: a Facebook listing for the event had 11 confirmed guests as of late Wednesday (and several users complaining about the method of delivery on the event’s Wall). Suffice it to say The Appeal will be present for this one, and the first in line to make sure the PUC building doesn’t escape unsoiled. Check back for updates.