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RadioLab Learns All About NYC’s ‘Poop Train’

The inquisitive minds at RadioLab this week got to the bottom of New York City sewage treatment. We’re talking 1.3 billion gallons (or seven billion pounds) of daily material that must be managed.

Up until 1986, West Side sewage was simply dumped, untreated into the Hudson River. There were also boats that would cart out loads 103 miles into the ocean and throw it all overboard. Today, the treated sewage is destined for landfill, but per the report by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, there was also another interim solution spearheaded by NYC “sludge salesman” Mike Sharp:

“And this is how the New York City poop train began. A couple of days before Earth Day 1992, several thousand tons of New York City sludge left the Big Apple, headed for Lamar, Colorado. Sixteen hundred miles away…”

Colorado farmers were initially weary of using the stuff, a POV compounded by a local TV ad for salsa that took similar knocks at anything of NYC provenance. But listen to the RadioLab report and you will hear a horse story, a cow story and many more great details about this fascinating bit of bathroom history, which ended just last year.

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