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Sludge Disposal in the Ocean

December 21, 1986

Your recent story "Orange County Awaits OK of Sludge Pipeline" was excellent, except for one serious error. At no time did the sludge spread at the 12-mile site in the New York Bight reach the shore. The only incident in which sludge was reported on the beaches arose from the failure of two onshore sludge storage tanks, which resulted in sludge spread along the beaches.

One other factor needs emphasis. The disposal of sludge in the sea by pipeline is controlled under the Clean Water Act, a piece of pollution abatement legislation. Disposal of sludge from ships or barges is controlled under the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, which is an environmental act.

Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Brazil all discharge sludge to the ocean as the best environmental alternative. They find our actions under the Clean Water Act anti-environmental. I believe their criticism to be valid and another reason for the Orange County test.

WILLIAM F. GARBER

Playa del Rey

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