DAILY NEWS Dec 19, 2012 1:18 PM - 2 comments

'Sludge' activist Maureen Reilly dead at 58

Tirelessly campaigned for higher treatment standards and better oversight of the disposal of municipal biosolids

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By: HazMat Staff
December 19, 2012 2012-12-19

It’s with great sadness that we report the untimely passing of Maureen Reilly, who died suddenly in Toronto on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at age 58 years.

Reilly was known to readers as a “sludge activist” who tirelessly campaigned for higher treatment standards and better oversight of the disposal of municipal biosolids on farm lands, sometimes called “beneficial use.” Some of Reilly’s investigations into lax practices found their way into the pages of this magazine, either directly from her own commentary or via ideas suggested to editorial staff.

Her LinkedIn page states:

“For the past decade Maureen Reilly has been working together with a variety of environmental, public health, and advocacy organizations on food, soil, water, and air contamination issues.

“She is the administrator of SludgeWatch [a position she held for 13 years -- ed.], a list serv and advocacy service for people and communities struggling with issues related to contamination from wastewater, sludge, and other industrial residuals.   

“Maureen had standing on the Walkerton Inquiry on sludge related matters. She taught a course called “Sewers through the Centuries" at University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.

“Maureen is actively committed to protecting food lands, food production, and food and water safety. She is investigating effective pollution prevention strategies, and clean technologies for water and soil protection.

Reilly’s LinkedIn page also references two documentaries:

Crapshoot: The Gamble with our Wastes

National Film Board of Canada


Sludge Diet (52 Minutes)


According to an obituary put out by the family on Facebook, Maureen Anne Reilly was the daughter of Herta Reilly (deceased) and Terence Reilly (Mary). She will also be dearly missed by her brothers David (Kathy) and Peter (Sharyn), her nephews and nieces and many relatives and friends.

Reilly was born on Manitoulin Island on April 26. She grew up in Don Mills and received her Bachelor Degree at University of Toronto. Among her many accomplishments, she was a champion of women’s rights, the poor and the protection of the environment. She was recognized for her contributions by the Ontario government. Her research and work was international in scope and valued by many. In her local community, she was known for her friendly manner, compassion, wisdom and humor.

A celebration of Maureen’s life will take place from 1-4 pm on Saturday December 22, 2012 at the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), 60 Lowther Avenue, Toronto, Ontario. (Parking lot w/s of Bedford Rd., north of Lowther.) Light refreshments to follow.

See Editor Guy Crittenden’s blog for further commentary, and to read a recent profile of Maureen Reilly by Ellen Moorehouse that appeared in the Toronto Star, March 2, 2012.


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Reader Comments

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So sorry to hear about Maureen she was a great lady who was unique and vibrant. I worked with her in the past and I was sad to hear the news of her passing. I wish I had kept in touch now.

Posted December 24, 2012 01:14 PM

J Coffey

This news is too tragic for words. I worked with her in 2004 and 2005 on the Nursery Products LLC sludge farm in the Mojave Desert. NPLLC was being run out of town (Adelanto) and needed to set up shop elsewhere in the high desert. She was fearless, relentless, and tireless in her fight against sludge and related political corruption. The battle continues against the well financed and politically powerful sludge lobby in the Mojave Desert, and three lawsuits inspired by her and using some of the materials she dragged out of the City of Adelanto legal counsel.

My condolences to her family and those who labored with her in this pivotal environmental issue. Let us close ranks and continue the fight, inspired by her ceasless efforts.

Posted December 20, 2012 08:38 PM

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