Midnight trains to Georgia filled with NYC sewage

All aboard the stench train!(AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

Credit: George Mathis

Credit: George Mathis

All aboard the stench train!(AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

The North has been dumping on the South since we lost the War Between the States, many an old-timer might say if you could only get them to admit the war is over.

As wrong as those people can be, they sometimes guess right.

The tiny town of Parrish, Ala., reportedly "smells like death" because a New York City "poop train" is stranded there, reports the Associated Press and area noses.

The train has been stuck on the tracks near Parrish's baseball fields since January.

As the temperature and stink rises, the town's population of 982 may fall.

"Oh my goodness, it's just a nightmare here," Parrish Mayor Heather Hall said. "It smells like rotting corpses, or carcasses."

The stinking trainload of human waste was headed to Big Sky landfill, located about 20 miles east of Parrish, when another tiny town, West Jefferson, got a court order blocking the transfer of more sewage .

The sludge "smells of dead rotting animals as well as human waste," West Jefferson's attorney said in a lawsuit against Big Sky Environmental LLC. It also caused the community to become "infested with flies."

In a public meeting, Walter "Smokey" Parker Jr., teared up as he asked officials to revoke the landfill's permit. 

"We are human beings just like you," Parker said. "I've got a smoker, I love to smoke meat. In the summertime, I can't do it because I'll puke from the smell."

New York City has halted its shipment of sewage sludge to Big Sky, reports The Wall Street Journal , but there's not enough Febreze on Earth for them to start accepting returns.

Parrish lacks the zoning laws to keep the train out of town, officials there said, but they are working on it. If they want to stay in office, or dry their clothes outdoors like nature intended, they better move fast. I tend to not tell people how to vote unless they are voting for someone or something I don't like, but any candidate who promises to keep the midnight poop trains out of Georgia gets my endorsement.

Could a train full of stinky sludge,  which is, essentially, the larger, solid bits of sewage separated out during the wastewater treatment process, get stuck here?

Yes. About 85 percent of the 2.4 million pounds of sewage sludge NYC produces daily is sent to landfills in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and upstate New York, says the WSJ.

In the U.S., about 28 percent of what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls "biosolids" is deposited in landfills, 17 percent is incinerated and 50 percent is used as fertilizer, the WSJ says.

Yes, that's right, you've eaten food grown in treated, and presumably safe, human fecal matter. The advantage of sludge as fertilizer is that it's cheap. The disadvantage is it may smell and contain pathogens and metals .

Which local landfills accept sludge?

Georgia's Environmental Protection Division website has a list of almost everything you can imagine, including a map of hazardous waste sites and a 547-page document detailing what is going on at each of them, but does not maintain a list of landfills accepting sewage sludge .

So I gave EPD a call and they said pretty much any municipal solid waste landfill can take the stinky stuff and the state doesn't really track it. Landfills near us are likely too busy with sludge from the metro area to be taking any from New York City, the EPD said.

So, which Georgia landfill is No. 1 at taking out-of-state No. 2?

EPD confirmed a municipal solid waste landfill in Taylor County, the only one in Georgia with a rail yard, has accepted sludge from NYC, but couldn't immediately sniff out a more complete list.