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Local News in Brief : $2.1 Million OKd for Sewage Task Force

The spending of $2.1 million to establish a task force to reduce heavy metals in city sewage sludge so that it can be sold as mulch or energy-plant fuel has been approved by the Los Angeles City Board of Public Works.

Buyers for treated sludge have been sought since late 1987, when the city stopped dumping it into Santa Monica Bay. High levels of cadmium and other toxic metals--spilled by some industrial companies into city sewers--now make it unusable for commercial purposes.

The money approved by the board will be used for personnel and equipment to detect and investigate abrupt increases in metals and to show industry how to reduce their discharges.

The funds are also intended to enable Los Angeles to extend its waste-monitoring operation to eight surrounding cities that contract with Los Angeles to discharge into its sewer system. Vincent Varsh, the city’s chief sanitation engineer, said selling sludge would cut the expense of putting it into landfills, which are nearly full.

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