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Finding solutions for the problem of sludge disposal

Critics of the use of sludge in bricks say that even if the measure were adopted on a wide scale it would take care of only a fraction of the sludge generated in the United States each day. `True,'' says Tom Stumm of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which supplied the sludge used in the trial production of biobricks. ``But this comes from people who are looking for a one-shot solution to the problem.

``We have passed the stage,'' he says, ``where one-shot solutions are possible. We must use every option available to us.''

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Mr. Stumm's contention was born out by a speaker at the recent recycling and waste conference put on by BioCycle magazine in Philadelphia last May.

In detailing how relatively clean (low in heavy metals) the sludge under her jurisdiction was being handled, Helen Pettit-Chase of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, indicated it could be applied as a fertilizer for the next 40 years. After that the limits on the land's ability to accept the metals would have been reached.

``What happens then?'' came a question from the floor.

``After that, if we haven't found other solutions,'' she replied, ``the ship sinks.''

``Then why bother?'' came a second response.

``So that it doesn't sink tomorrow!''

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