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County officials warn of high toxin levels

Cleburne Times-Review - 2/20/2024

Feb. 16—Biosolids containing "stunningly" high levels of toxins spread on a Grandview property pose significant hazard to neighboring properties and, potentially, much of the rest of the county, county officials said.

County officials also called upon the EPA and state agencies such as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to address the problem.

Environmental Investigator Dana Ames of the Precinct 4 constable's office presented the findings of an ongoing investigation during a Friday called meeting of the Johnson County Commissioners Court.

A complaint lodged by a property owner in December 2022 instigated the investigation.

The property owner said that biosolids spread on their neighbor's property caused the fish in their pond, and ponds on neighboring properties to die, and made his family and his animals physically ill, and caused the death of several animals.

The biosolids (fertilizer) came from Synagro.

"This fertilizer is made from Class A biosolids/municipal wastewater treatment sludge from the city of Fort Worth," Ames said.

Per-and polyflouroalkyl substances — toxic man made chemicals nicknamed forever chemicals — in the biosolids have been linked to cancer and other ailments.

County officials stressed that they are not against farmers or farmers but rather attempting to help farmers and all residents.

Johnson County Commissioner Larry Woolley stressed the hands of county officials are tied on the matter.

"No Texas county has authority to block the application of biosolids," Woolley said. "It's a state regulated authority that goes through TCEQ. The counties have asked for authority. They've asked the legislature for that and it's fallen on deaf ears.

"But we are charged with public health and public safety and that's what triggered this investigation."

Kyla Bennett, director of science policy for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the agency that tested land, water and animals affected by the toxins on several Grandview properties, called the levels of toxicity found higher than any she had seen on other investigations.

The full story of the investigation's findings and Friday's meeting will run in Tuesday's paper.


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