Animal Feeding Operations - Compliance & Enforcement: Enforcement Cases 2001
Animal Feeding Operations Highlights
EPA Enforcement Cases 2001
- February 22, 2001: Kansas Cattleman Pleads Guilty
- March 8, 2001: EPA Orders Walnutdale Farms To Stop Unpermitted Discharge
- April 9, 2001: EPA Penalizes Chino Dairy $48,000 for Manure Overflow
- November 20, 2001: Nation's Second Largest Hog Producer Reaches Settlement with U.S. & Citizen's Group
February 22, 2001
Kansas Cattleman Pleads Guilty
A cattleman who operates the Hornung Cattle Company in Offerle, Kansas, pled guilty on February12 to violating the Clean Water Act. During May 2000, the defendant violated his EPA permit by discharging animal waste from a lagoon at his feed lot, knowing that the animal waste would enter Coon Creek. The release of animal wastes into surface waters can make them unfit for drinking and recreational uses and can harm fish and aquatic life. When sentenced, the cattleman faces a maximum sentence of up to three years in prison and/or a maximum fine of up to $250,000. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City.
March 8, 2001EPA Orders Walnutdale Farms To Stop Unpermitted Discharges
EPA Region 5 recently ordered Walnutdale Farms, Inc. (Wayland, Mich.) to stop unauthorized discharges of manure, wastewater, and cooling water into a farm drain and subsequently into the Red Run Drain and Rabbit River. EPA observed discharges of manure-contaminated stormwater occurring after a precipitation event. EPA alleges that these discharges violate the Clean Water Act.
The administrative order issued on Feb. 26 also requires the dairy to apply to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit; stop applying manure on frozen and snow-covered ground; improve its capacity to safely store waste; submit a stormwater pollution prevention plan to EPA and the State; and submit a comprehensive plan to manage all wastes at the facility, including manure, wastewater, spoiled milk, waste feed and silage, silage leachate and dead animals.
"Discharges of manure and other wastes from feedlots may kill fish, cause infectious diseases in people, lead to excessive algae growth and upset the balance of life in streams and lakes," said Jo Lynn Traub, EPA regional Water Division director. "Permits impose enforceable pollution control standards and management practices on facilities to protect water quality and public health."
EPA inspected the dairy in January 2001 and determined that it is a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) because it has more than 700 dairy cattle and discharges manure-polluted wastewater into a farm drain and subsequently the Red Run Drain and Rabbit River. The inspection also revealed that the facility discharges other wastewater without a permit.
April 9, 2001EPA Penalizes Chino Dairy $48,000 for Manure Overflow
EPA assessed the Beranna Dairy in Chino, Calif, a $48,000 penalty for manure overflows into a tributary of the Santa Ana River, a violation of the Clean Water Act. The EPA began investigating the dairy in March 2000 after discovering ongoing overflows from manure lagoons into a flood channel flowing to the Prado Dam, part of the Santa Ana River watershed.
"If dairy manure had been properly managed and stored,
our penalty could have been avoided," said Alexis Strauss, director
of the Water Division in the EPA's Pacific Southwest Office. "Now
under a new operator, the dairy has improved maintenance at the facility
and increase holding capacity in the manure ponds to prevent future over
flows. We are most encouraged by this commitment."
This is the third penalty the EPA has levied against dairies in Chino in the past year for manure overflows. In May 2000, the Goyenetche Dairy was penalized $9,000 and in February 2001, the H&R Westra Dairy was penalized $30,700. Both dairies have since improved operations at their facilites to control manure overflows. Large dairies have a long-standing legal obligation to store and manage liquid and solid manure to prevent discharges to surface water during all but the most extreme rains.
November 20, 2001Nation's Second Largest Hog Producer Reaches Settlement With U.S. & Citizen's Group
EPA and the Justice Department announced that two related companies, Premium Standard Farms (PSF) and Continental Grain Company, which together comprise the second largest producer of hogs in the United States, have entered into a settlement to resolve environmental violations at the companies' large-scale farms, known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), in Missouri. The settlement was reached with the United States and the Citizens Legal Environmental Action Network, a citizens group (CLEAN).
According to the consent decree, which will be lodged today in the Western District of Missouri in Kansas City, PSF and Continental have agreed to pay a $350,000 civil penalty (besides $650,000 previously paid to the state of Missouri), and spend, according to EPA estimates, as much as $50 million to develop and install cleaner wastewater treatment technologies never before used in large-scale farm operations.
PSF's and Continental's operations in Missouri consist of more than 1,000 hog barns, 163 animal waste lagoons and 1.25 million pigs primarily located on 21 large-scale farms in five counties. The settlement will produce significant reduction of odorous and potentially harmful air pollutants from their facilities and prevent spills of animal wastes that can result in fish kills or other harm to local rivers and streams.
The decree requires PSF and Continental to develop and install wastewater treatment technologies for CAFOs that will greatly reduce the toxicity of the tremendous amount of animal wastes produced and the overall emissions of odorous and potentially harmful air pollutants, substantially benefitting human health and the environment. In addition, PSF and Continental have agreed to reduce by at least 50 percent the nitrogen content of waste at the larger Class 1A CAFO farms before it is land applied, and to substantially reduce ammonia emissions. The decree requires the companies to calculate and report on emissions from its large barns and lagoons, and to apply to Missouri for any necessary Clean Air Act permits. Under the decree, defendants will compile data on their current facilities' operations before and after technological improvements have been made.
The federal decree complements a prior consent judgment negotiated by the state of Missouri, PSF and Continental that requires defendants to spend up to $25 million to develop "Next Generation Technology." "This settlement is a prime example of how the federal government can complement and enhance the work of the States to protect the environment and the public. The consent decree is a model of how to reduce emissions and protect human health," said Acting Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden.
The companies also will be required to comply with new farm management practices designed to prevent future discharges of animal wastes and minimize the negative impact of the facilities on local residents. Furthermore, the companies have agreed to fund a $300,000 supplemental environmental project to reduce air emissions and odors from swine barns.
Improper handling of manure from feedlots, lagoons and improper land application can result in excessive nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus); pathogens (i.e., fecal coliform); and other pollutants in the water. This pollution can kill fish, cause excessive algae growth, and contaminate drinking water. Emissions of air pollutants are also of concern for nearby residents.
"We believe this decree presents and fair, logical and reasonable solution to a significant series of problems," said Todd P. Graves, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. "This decree provides significant incentive for the defendants to make improvements in their operations that should spur creation of new technologies that could ultimately benefit farms of all sizes, and the quality of life for many Missourians."
The agreement resolves claims that PSF and Continental violated numerous requirements of the Clean Water Act, which prohibits discharges of pollutants into waters of the United States without authorization by a permit. In the case of permitted CAFOs, Clean Water Act regulations prohibit discharges to navigable waters absent extraordinary circumstances. The settlement also resolves potential claims under the Clean Air Act and other laws addressing violations of limits on air emissions and permit and reporting requirements. The consent decree is available for public comment for 30 days.