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MASCOUTAH, Ill. (KSDK) - The stench is just too much for his neighbors to take, but a local farmer claims human waste is the best thing for his crops. The fields are in rural St. Clair County, just south of Mascoutah.

Buck Horine has smelled it before and is about to smell it again.

"I hope the wind is blowing that way or that way, and not this way," said Horine, laughing.

Sewage sludge is being used to fertilize nearby crops. It's basically raw sewage, treated and heated to get rid of harmful pathogens, then used to enrich soil.

"I admit that it smells, I do," farmer Shane Reinneck said.

Photos: Elizabeth Matthews sniffs sewer sludge:

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He says he has been using this type of fertilizer for about 11 years and his family has been using the sewage sludge since 1986. Reinneck gets it in dry form, which kind of looks like potting soil. He says the organic materials found in the product are crucial to his crops.

The sludge comes from a local wastewater treatment plant in Caseyville and he says he follows the state sludge regulations to a T.

"There's one thing let's make it clear, he's not doing anything illegal," said Horine, but he's concerned with the stench. "Why should I have to smell something, a mile and a half from me that I cannot open my windows up for three or four days."

He blames the EPA, wanting the use of the sludge to be banned. Reinneck and state officials say not much can be done. No rules are being broken and Reinneck says the product is too valuable to stop using.

"As long as there are humans and as long as you are eating and as long as you are doing the deed, as long as they are going to make it I am going to haul it," Reinneck said.

The Illinois EPA says they will have a representative on site when Reinneck applies the sludge, making sure all the rules are followed.

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