Researchers at Greenpeace UK claim to have uncovered an two-year-old, unpublished Environment Agency (EA) report that includes warnings of “potentially harmful levels” of contaminants in sewage sludge used as fertiliser on farmland.
Greenpeace said the EA-commissioned report showed that a growing number of “middlemen, waste brokers, contractors and subcontractors” involved in sewage sludge supply chains, along the mixing together wastes from different sources, has increased the risk of contamination. The report, according to Greenpeace, documents findings from tests on sludge and soil samples at more than 50 farms and eight sludge treatment works that indicated widespread contamination from plastics and microplastics and other toxic substances including dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls. Greenpeace quoted the report as declaring the pollution renders the soil “unsuitable for agriculture”.
Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, Dr Doug Parr, described the UK regulatory system as “broken” and called on the EA
to “launch a full-scale investigation and work with ministers on tightening the rules.”