Biosolids and industrial residuals in Virginia; JLARC to study. (HJ120)

Introduced By

Del. Steve Landes (R-Weyers Cave) with support from co-patrons Del. Chris Peace (R-Mechanicsville), and Del. Lee Ware (R-Powhatan)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate


Study; JLARC to study biosolids and industrial residuals; report. Directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to analyze scientific literature on the health effects of biosolids (treated sewage sludge) and industrial residuals (wastes resulting from industrial processes), evaluate the feasibility of requiring municipal utilities that are currently permitted to generate "Class B" material to upgrade their facilities to generate "Class A" material, and undertake other analyses. Read the Bill »


02/23/2016: Passed the Senate


01/12/2016Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/13/16 16102641D
01/12/2016Referred to Committee on Rules
01/26/2016Assigned to sub: Studies
01/26/2016Assigned Rules sub: Studies
02/04/2016Subcommittee recommends reporting with amendment(s) (6-Y 0-N)
02/09/2016Reported from Rules with substitute (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/09/2016Committee substitute printed 16105115D-H1
02/11/2016Taken up
02/11/2016Committee substitute agreed to 16105115D-H1
02/11/2016Engrossed by House - committee substitute HJ120H1
02/11/2016Agreed to by House BLOCK VOTE (98-Y 0-N)
02/11/2016VOTE: BLOCK VOTE ADOPTION (98-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/12/2016Reading waived
02/12/2016Referred to Committee on Rules
02/19/2016Reported from Rules
02/22/2016Reading waived (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/23/2016Read third time
02/23/2016Agreed to by Senate by voice vote
02/23/2016Bill text as passed House and Senate (HJ120ER)


Tom Miller writes:

Efforts to discuss this bill HJ120 with the bills proponent, Del Landes, have to date (2 Feb '16) have been unsuccessful. An unbiased study of the potential health risks associated with land application of both biosolids and industrial residuals is long overdue. Efforts to initiate a study in the 2015 GA failed due to lack of agreement between the House of Delegate’s version and the Senate’s version. The proposed JLARC study and literature review proposed by Delegate Landes’ bill appears to be a positive step. However, a one year study seems a bit short and two years would be more appropriate considering the subject’s complexity. We would really like discuss the bill with the proponent. We would like to know if it would be possible to have some citizen involvement in the JLARC effort, if the JLARC study effort will be transparent to the public. Further, we would like to be able to recommend studies for inclusion in their literature review process.

Lidia Epp writes:

This bill states that the " the escape, flow, or discharge of sewage sludge into state waters in a manner that would cause pollution of state waters, as those terms are defined in § 62.1-44.3 of the Code of Virginia, will be prevented".
Question - who and how will establish that? How it will be determined that the pollution will be prevented?

Further, the bill reads:"the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) shall (i) analyze the current scientific literature regarding the long-term effects of biosolids and industrial residuals on health, including potential impacts on well, surface, and ground water".
It is a well known fact that the current scientific literature lacks the data evaluating the effects of biosolids on health and well and ground water. So the Commission will eventually reach this very conclusion - there is no scientific literature on that very subject. What is urgently needed is not an evaluation of current scientific literature, but an initiative and funds to CONDUCT new, comprehensive, long term study to evaluate the impact of biosolids and industrial residual land applications on public health! Yes, it will be expensive and very complex, that's why the current scientific literature has very little published data. The funding is scarce and available federal funding that exists - is directed towards studies that don't question the "beneficial use of biosolids".
A bill calling for a study to study the studies concluding that there are no studies!

While a growing body of scientific evidence shows that biosolids are a far more dangerous substance that it was considered when the Part 503 rule was formulated.
Here is a small sample of such recent scientific findings:,_McClellan,_Halden_PPCP_fate_in_soil.pdf

In conlusion; there is a vast body of scientific findings on the potential detrimental effects of biosolids on human (and animal) health, but there is no clinical published data that documents that fact. That's what is needed, together with a reevaluation of current practices and regulations of monitoring the biosolids land application. A new federal and state legislation that involves tools and techniques available in modern science.