Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority

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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.

This article is part of the Food Rights Network, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. Find out more here.

The Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority (IERCA) is a sewage sludge treatment plant in Rancho Cucagmonga, California. It was created and is operated by the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County.[1]

The IERCA treats sewage sludge from municipal waste treatment plants in San Bernardino County in California. It is the "nation's largest indoor composting facility," according to the IERCA website. The IERCA creates and markets SoilPro "biosolids compost," which is treated sewage sludge, and markets it to retail stores, backyard gardeners and other consumers. For example, SoilPro is sold to southern California gardeners in Kellogg Garden Products like Amend, Topper, Gromulch, and Nitrohumus.

Sewage Sludge Compost

The Truth about Kellogg "Organics" Amend

IERCA's sewage sludge compost, SoilPro, contains sewage sludge and wood and green waste. It is used in the Kellogg Garden Products line in products such as Amend[2] The sludge and plant waste are first mixed and then composted. Once they have broken down, they are screened and aged for a month. IERCA uses the Aerated Static Pile (ASP) method of composting. To do that, "air is forced through loosely piled organic feedstocks" throughout the entire composting process. "The IERCF uses the ASP method of composting by drawing air though the compost piles with fans and exhausting the foul air through a biofilter. The biofilter satisfies air regulations and controls odor emissions." The total composting process takes 60 days. IERCA produces 250,000 cubic yards (90,000 tons) per year of the finished product, which is marketed as "Class A Exceptional Quality Compost" and sold in bulk to landscapers, farmers, nurseries, and top soil blenders under the brand name SoilPro.

IERCA's facility receives 150,000 tons/year of sewage sludge (75,000 tons each from Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County and Inland Empire Utilities Agency. Additionally, they use 150,000 tons/ year of "Bulking Agents & Feedstocks (Manure, Green Waste, Etc.)."een waste.[3]

Donating Sewage Sludge Products to Community Gardens

In 2013, the USCC began a PR campaign it called the "Million Tomato Compost Campaign," which it said "connects community gardens, compost producers, chefs and food banks to grow healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy communities."[4]

According to the campaign website, "USCC's STA certified compost producer members will donate STA-certified compost to participating community gardens who sign on to the Million Tomato Compost Campaign. Community gardens will use their compost to grow one million tomatoes, either for their own use or for donation to local food banks. Chefs will work with the community gardeners, schools and nonprofits to teach people about using sustainably grown local food in recipes that even kids will love!"[5]

Of the dozens of producers in almost all 50 states that participate in the USCC's STA program, at least six are known to use industrial and residential sewage sludge in their products: A-1 Organics, EKO Systems (one of whose plants was producing 3,090 dry tons of sewage sludge product a year as of 2010), Synagro (the largest processor of sewage sludge in the United States), WeCare Organics, the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority, and Engel & Gray, Inc.'s Harvest Blend Compost.

These products are some of the sewage sludge products known to be sold by corporations and municipalities. To dispose of sewage sludge produced by wastewater treatment plants, the industry and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have renamed them "biosolids" and dubbed them as "green" examples of recycling, beneficial reuse, and organic fertilizer and compost products. In many cases, the sewage sludge is then packaged as compost or fertilizer and sold to unsuspecting gardeners or farmers.

Sludge contaminants can include flame retardants (which California recently listed as a carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent), antibacterial agents like triclosan, phthalates (the solvent that gives vinyl plastic the nickname "Poison Plastic") and other industrial solvents, nanosilver and other nanomaterials, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceutical residues, resistant pathogens, and perfluorinated compounds. Some of these contaminants can "bioaccumulate" in plants grown in sludge-contaminated soil and remain as residue on vegetables in contact with the soil. These plants can then eaten by children and adults.

Board of Directors

IERCA Board of Directors:[6]

Staff

Contact Information

  • Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority[7]
  • 12645 Sixth Street
  • Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739
  • Ph: 909-993-1500
  • Web: http://www.ierca.org

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

Related PRWatch Articles

External Resources

External Articles

References

  1. Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority: About Us IERCA Website Accessed April 11, 2011.
  2. Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority, Compost Process, Accessed April 19, 2011.
  3. Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority, Compost Process, Accessed April 19, 2011.
  4. Leanne Spaulding, U.S. Composting Council, RE: Happy ICAW 2013!, organizational email to members, May 7, 2013.
  5. U.S. Composting Council, Buy-Compost.com, Million Tomato Compost Campaign website, accessed May 2013.
  6. Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority website, Accessed April 19, 2011.
  7. Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority website, Accessed April 19, 2011.