Delegate Chris Peace Announces Legislation to Restrict Applications of and Provide for Greater Local Control of Industrial Sludge

-- Measures include a proposed moratorium on the application of industrial residual waste material in the 97th District which includes Hanover, King William and New Kent Counties in addition to additional local control and reimbursement for testing and monitoring of these waste residuals, commonly known as “industrial sludge”-- Mechanicsville, Virginia - The General Assembly will start its 396th Session on January 14, 2015, with legislators likely considering over 2,000 introduced bills and resolutions running the gamut of issues.  Delegate Christopher K. Peace’s (R, 97th House District) unveiled the first part of his 2015 legislative package which will start with a focus on an issue of great importance to residents of the counties he represents

Delegate Peace has drafted and will file legislation which will place a moratorium on the future application of industrial residual materials, also known as “industrial sludge,” to farm land in Hanover, King William, and New Kent counties. Industrial sludge material is commonly mistaken for biosolids, which are nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment facility and commonly used by the farming community. Created through the treatment of domestic wastewater generated from sewage treatment facilities, biosolids, when treated and processed, can be recycled and applied as fertilizer to improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth.  However, industrial “sludge” even when treated to reduce pollutants can still contain heavy metals and germs. Industrial sludge can contain heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead, which are linked to health problems including cancer, brain damage and nervous system disorders.  “Many critics say it can pose a threat to people, streams and wells. And I share their concern. It is my hope that this announcement will likewise cause the State Water Control Board to carefully proceed,” said Del. Peace. The announcement of this issue is considered timely because in an upcoming meeting the State Water Control Board will vote on an application by Synagro to apply industrial residual waste on land in his district

“We must guarantee the citizens of my District and the Commonwealth that land application of industrial sludge is safe and monitored for on-going environmental impact.  The 97th District is a rural area with sensitive natural resources and an aquifer that must be protected.  A large portion of the district is in the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area with its primary water source being groundwater.  Furthermore, many residents depend on wells for water so it is vital that we take measures to protect our water resources including surface water and wells from contaminates that are applied to the surface,” asserted Peace.  Delegate Peace believes that there are other legislators from the regions of the piedmont and middle peninsula who will also be considering legislation in response to growing concerns about the application of these industrial residuals from local governments. Local representatives are requesting that further study of the impact of application of industrial waste be conducted and have called for additional testing and monitoring.  Studies will likely review all available science on this issue including but not limited to a 2007 study issued by the Virginia Department of Health titled “ Health Effects of Biosolids Applied to Land: Available Scientific Evidence.”

Another bill to be patroned by Peace would allow all local governments to adopt ordinances to provide for the testing and monitoring of the land application of industrial residual waste and receive reimbursement for this enforcement.  This legislation would require the State Water Control Board to adopt emergency regulations, requiring persons that apply industrial residual wastes to private land to collect a fee from the producer of the industrial wastes and remit the fee to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  The fee cannot exceed the direct costs to localities for testing and monitoring of land application of industrial wastes. The bill would require the Board's regulations to include procedures for (i) collection of the fees by DEQ, (ii) deposit of the collected fees into the Sludge Management Fund, and (iii) disbursements from the Fund to localities for the testing and monitoring of the industrial wastes.

Peace continued, “I look forward to the 2015 General Assembly Session and am ready to continue to work in service to the residents of the 97th District and the Commonwealth.” Additional components of Delegate Peace’s legislative package will be announced as the 2015 Session nears. Please follow the Delegate on Facebook, Twitter (@DelCPeace) and at

Delegate Christopher K. Peace was elected to his fifth term representing the 97th District of the Virginia House of Delegates.  The District includes parts of Hanover, King William, and all of New Kent County.