Thursday, July 24, 2003

Virginia county loses appeal of injunction against enforcement of local biosolids ordinance

In O'Brien v. Appomattox County, the Fourth Circuit in a per curiam opinion for the panel of Judges Michael and King and District Judge Wooten affirmed the district court's decision to preliminarily enjoin the County from enforcing its ordinance prohibiting farmers from applying biosolids to their land in the County.

The opinion notes:

"In light of the widespread use of biosolids in Virginia and elsewhere in the United States, the regulations and examinations undertaken by the Virginia General Assembly and the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("U.S. EPA"), and the studies by the scientific community, the fear of possible, adverse health effects is too attenuated at this time to outweigh the likelihood of harm to the Farmers."

In addition, the District Court had the benefit of what both the Virginia Supreme Court and the Virginia General Assembly have to say on the authority of counties over the use of biosolids:

"the District Court reviewed the Virginia Supreme Court’s decision in Blanton v. Amelia County, the legislation enacted by the Virginia General Assembly limiting the role of counties in regulating biosolids, and the effect of these ordinances on landapplication of biosolids. In light of the recent decisions by the Virginia Supreme Court and the Virginia General Assembly, we cannot conclude that the District Court erred in determining that the claims and evidence provided by the Farmers raise such serious, substantial, and difficult issues that they warrant more deliberate investigation."

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