SD14 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Response to the National Research Council's Report Pertaining to the Land Application of Biosolids

Executive Summary:
Pursuant to SB 1088 of the 2003 General Assembly Session, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has reviewed the response of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the National Research Council’s (NRC) July 2002 Report entitled "Biosolids Applied to Land: Advancing Standards and Practices." The NRC report encouraged the EPA to initiate appropriate risk assessment studies to determine the impact of biosolids exposure on workers and local populations. The Final Action Plan developed by EPA outlines the programmatic steps necessary for evaluating human health outcomes as a result of biosolids exposure. As the results of the proposed studies become available, it may be possible to better assess the necessary management practices requirements for sites where biosolids are to be applied. However, in spite of the current projections of low risk levels, an appropriate level of resources must be maintained to support a credible regulatory program. The Commonwealth should routinely re-examine the assumptions/studies used to develop the past governing policy recommendations as well as any new materials that could challenge the conclusions of the past.

If additional scientific information gathered from the initiatives and projects described in EPA’s Final Action Plan indicates that modifications to state laws and regulations are necessary in order to protect human health and the environment, then amendments to the regulations will be developed and brought to the State Board of Health for adoption. Also, the state regulations will be revised as appropriate to reflect any changes to the federal regulations and standards. In the interim, VDH will proceed with the proposed amendments already in process including the requirements specified in SB 1088. Additional recommendations for VDH actions include the following:

1. Develop standard procedures for incident response and investigation of complaints of illness due to exposure to biosolids.

2. Encourage local governments to both adopt appropriate ordinances and to establish local monitoring and testing capabilities in cooperation with Local Health Departments.

3. Continue to train local biosolids monitors.

4. Initiate the rulemaking process establishing regulations for the land applicator certification program as soon as possible.

5. Develop databases for permit information and complaint resolution tracking.

6. Develop standard permit compliance and enforcement protocols.