Animal Feeding Operations - Compliance & Enforcement: Enforcement Cases 2002 through 2006
Animal Feeding Operations Highlights
EPA Enforcement Cases 2002 through 2006
- December 8, 2006: EPA Files Complaint, Seeks Civil Penalties Against Bruneau Cattle Company
- August 31, 2005: Animal Feedlot Operators Cited for Clean Water Act Violations
- April 27, 2005: Iowa Dairy Farmer Convicted of Violating Clean Water Act
- February 23, 2004: Ohio's Largest Egg Producer Agrees to Dramatic Air Pollution Reductions from Three Giant Facilities
- May 22, 2003: Missouri Hog Farm Owner Admits to Negligent Sewage Discharge
- March 29, 2002: California Ranch, Owner, Foreman Sentenced
- February 28, 2002: Missouri Company to Pay Over $1.5 Million in Fines, Costs, Restitution
December 8, 2006
EPA Files Complaint, Seeks Civil Penalties Against Bruneau Cattle Company
As part of an ongoing campaign to protect human health and water quality in Idaho’s Snake River, EPA has filed a Complaint against the Bruneau Cattle Company (Owyhee County, ID) for unauthorized discharges of pollutants from a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) to the South Side Canal. The Canal flows to the Snake River and C.J. Strike Reservoir near Bruneau, ID.
According to Elin D. Miller, EPA regional administrator in Seattle, the Agency took action after an inspection in 2006 revealed clear evidence of several direct discharges of CAFO wastewater from cattle pens to the Canal, which flows to reservoir and the Snake River. “This is an especially important case since the discharge was immediately upstream of a public campground,” said EPA’s Miller. “Feedlots have a responsibility to protect water quality and downstream water users. We share the state of Idaho’s concern for protecting water quality and want to send a clear message that less responsible feed lots won’t enjoy a competitive advantage over those who do the right thing.”
Bruneau Cattle Company, with a capacity of approximately 7,000 head of cattle, is located in Owyhee County in Southwest Idaho. On February 8, 2006, at the time of the inspection, there were approximately 4,000 head of cattle on site. During the inspection, EPA inspectors observed past evidence of discharges and documented that the facility did not have any wastewater containment systems to prevent wastewater runoff from cattle pens. Manure and wastewater from CAFOs have the potential to contribute pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, sediments, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones, antibiotics, and ammonia to the environment. Excess nutrients in water (i.e., nitrogen and phosphorus) can result in or contribute to fish kills.
“We look forward to working closely with the Idaho Department of Agriculture to ensure that feedlot owners comply with regulations that protect the state’s rivers, lakes and streams for all Idahoans.” EPA’s Miller added. Bruneau Cattle Company has 30 days to respond to the complaint and will have an opportunity for a hearing if the Company and EPA are unable to reach a settlement. Under the federal Clean Water Act, facilities can face fines of up to $11,000 per day of violation.
August 31, 2005
Animal Feedlot Operators Cited for Clean Water Act Violations
EPA Region 7 has cited two operators of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in eastern Nebraska for violating the Clean Water Act, stemming from their illegal discharge of wastewater and runoff from livestock facilities into nearby streams or rivers. EPA ordered both CAFO operators to promptly construct proper livestock waste control facilities to stop pollutants from the feedlots from causing further harm to the environment. Both facilities will also pay a civil penalty. These enforcement cases were finalized earlier in August following a 40-day public notice and comment period. EPA brought these actions largely due to the failure of both feedlot operators to comply with the requirements of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) in a timely way.
"EPA is committed to working closely with NDEQ to protect water quality in Nebraska,” said Jim Gulliford, EPA Region 7 administrator. “We will take action when facilities that cause water pollution do not fully cooperate with NDEQ.” EPA cited DB Feedyards, Inc., near Tekamah (40 miles north of Omaha), for the unauthorized discharge of pollutants into a tributary of Bell Creek, which flows into the Elkhorn River. DB Feedyards had been operating its facility without proper waste controls for more than 15 years in violation of the Clean Water Act. It had not fully complied with previous orders from NDEQ to come into compliance. DB Feedyards must pay a penalty of $135,000. This case was finalized August 29, 2005. EPA also cited J&S Feedlots, Inc., near Dodge (50 miles northwest of Omaha), for the unauthorized discharge of pollutants into a tributary of Pebble Creek, which flows into the Elkhorn River. J&S Feedlots has operated its facility since 1993, and failed to comply with an order from NDEQ in 2002 to install additional waste controls.
J&S Feedlots must pay a penalty of $47,000. This enforcement case was finalized August 11, 2005. Both of these CAFOs discharge into tributaries of the Elkhorn River. Parts of the Elkhorn River have been listed by NDEQ as “impaired” for fecal coliform, which means that the water is unfit for human contact due to high levels of bacteria. Wastewater discharges and runoff from livestock operations are partly responsible for this impairment. Wastewater discharges from livestock operations contain numerous pollutants, often at harmful levels. The Clean Water Act requires feedlots to prevent the discharge of all feedlot runoff because of the high pollutant levels it contains. Feedlot wastewater typically contains a number of bacterial and viral pathogens (such as Salmonella), as well as parasites (such as Cryptosporidium). Illnesses caused by ingestion of these microorganisms can result in gastroenteritis, fever, and kidney failure. Animal wastes are also typically high in nutrients, including ammonia and other pollutants, which can cause decreased oxygen levels in receiving waters. These depleted oxygen levels can adversely impact fish and other aquatic life. In addition, ammonia above certain concentrations in surface water is toxic to fish.
April 27, 2005
Dairy Farmer Convicted of Violating Clean Water Act
The owner and operator of Simon Dairy in Farley, Ia., was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison, pay a $5,000 administrative penalty that had been assessed earlier by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and serve one year of supervised release on April 6 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids as a result of his conviction on four counts of violating the Clean Water Act. The charges arose from the defendant's illegal dumping of cow manure and waste milk into Hogan's Branch, a tributary of the Mississippi River. The illegal discharges occurred between May of 2003 and January of 2004. The owner illegally disposed of the cow manure by using two foot trenches dug from his dairy manure lagoon to a steep embankment overlooking Hogan's Branch. He illegally discharged the waste milk into Hogan's Branch by using a four-inch PVC pipe. The owner has an extensive enforcement history with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and was previously placed under an administrative order and fined $5,000 for illegal discharges into the Branch. He refused to pay the fine or make any of the changes in his disposal practices required by the administrative order. Dumping cow manure and waste milk into surface waters can make the waters unfit for human use and can harm fish and wildlife. The case was investigated by the Iowa attorney general's office, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the IDNR and the St. Louis Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division.
February 23, 2004Ohio's Largest Egg Producer Agrees to Dramatic Air Pollution Reductions from Three Giant Facilities
Buckeye Egg Farm, LP, the largest commercial egg producer in Ohio, agreed to a comprehensive Clean Air Act (CAA) settlement under which the company will spend more than $1.4 million to install and test innovative pollution controls to dramatically cut air emissions of particulate matter and ammonia from its three giant egg-laying facilities at Croton, Marseilles and Mt. Victory, and pay an $880,598 civil penalty. The settlement resolves claims filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of EPA alleging that Buckeye failed to obtain necessary air permits for these facilities and failed to comply with an order directing it to sample its air emissions. The settlement is contained in a consent decree lodged for public comment by the Justice Department in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
Buckeye's egg-laying operations have the capacity to house more than 12 million chickens in over 100 barns. In 2002, Buckeye's facilities produced 2.6 billion eggs, or 4 percent of the nation's total. Exterior exhaust fans surrounding the barns emit particulate matter and ammonia from the chickens. Preliminary air emission tests required by EPA indicated that air emissions of particulate matter (PM) were significant – over 550 tons/year (tpy) from the Croton facility, over 700 tpy from the Marseilles facility, and over 600 tpy from the Mt. Victory facility. Many scientific studies have linked particulate matter to aggravated asthma, coughing, difficult or painful breathing, chronic bronchitis and decreased lung function, among other ailments Buckeye also reported ammonia emissions of over 800 tpy from its Croton facility, over 375 tpy from the Marseilles facility, and nearly 275 tpy from the Mt. Victory facility.
While Buckeye recently sold its three facilities to Ohio Fresh Eggs LLC, the settlement requires Buckeye to bind the purchaser to implement the environmental improvements required under the consent decree. Buckeye remains liable for any violations. Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department, applauded the settlement and said, "Ohio families residing near these massive farms have suffered long enough from poor quality air. This settlement ensures they will see improvements in the air their children breathe in short order."
Phyllis Harris, EPA Acting Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said, "Buckeye has finally taken responsibility for the adverse effects its practices have had on human health and the environment in the state of Ohio. We look forward to improved operations under the new owner of these facilities." Under the consent decree, Buckeye must install a particulate impaction system in each of its barns at the Marseilles and Mt. Victory facilities to capture particulate matter before it is vented to the outside. It will also use enzyme additive products on the manure accumulated in the layer barns to reduce ammonia emissions by at least 50 percent. Additional controls are required if dust or ammonia emissions are not satisfactorily reduced. The combination of particulate and ammonia controls at these facilities is also expected to reduce substantially fly infestations, which have been a subject of repeated state and private litigation against Buckeye.
The Croton facility is required by the state of Ohio to install belt battery manure handling systems at its layer barns over the next five years. Because of this requirement, the consent decree requires alternative controls for the Croton facility. These include changes in bird variety and feed, which are expected to reduce both particulate matter and ammonia emissions. The consent decree requires extensive testing of these measures. If they are not successful, Buckeye will be required to install particulate impaction systems and other appropriate PM controls for the converted barns. The barns will also be treated with the enzyme product for ammonia control.
In July 2003, the state of Ohio revoked Buckeye's operating permits and cited Buckeye nine times for contempt due to its continuing failure to comply with a state consent order requiring facility improvements. Buckeye appealed the state action but lost in mid-October. The company began closing its barns on November 20 and the Marseilles facility is now closed. Under the settlement, the new purchaser, Ohio Fresh Eggs, which has now received operating permits from the state of Ohio, will be able to open the barns, but must comply with environmental controls imposed by the consent decree.
May 22, 2003
Hog Farm Owner Admits to Negligent Sewage Discharge
In the U.S. District Court in St. Louis, the owner of the Nobis Hog Farm in Holliday, Mo., pled guilty on May 12 to negligently discharging sewage from a sewage treatment lagoon into a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Salt River. The discharge of sewage into surface waters can make them hazardous to fish and wildlife and can also make them unfit for recreational and drinking water uses. The owner faces a maximum possible sentence of up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000. The defendant has already agreed to a $33,000 civil settlement, $28,000 of which will be suspended if he implements improved environmental practices. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in St. Louis.
March 29, 2002California Ranch, Owner, Foreman Sentenced
Masami Cattle Ranch (MCR) of Tehema County, Calif., its owner, and foreman were sentenced on March 18 for violating the Clean Water Act. MCR was sentenced to pay a $1.7 million fine, $700,000 of which will be reduced because of a civil settlement that owner has already paid to the state of California. The owner will serve six months home detention as part of one year of probation. The foreman was sentenced to two years probation and a $3,000 fine. MCR has operated a beef cattle ranch in Corning, Calif. since 1989, which generally maintains approximately 5,000-8,000 head of cattle. The beef is exported to Japan. The defendants previously admitted to discharging, without proper permits, cattle waste and dumping dead cattle carcasses into Elder and Willow Creeks and their tributaries that run across the ranch. These creeks feed into the Sacramento River. The discharge of manure and dumping of dead animals into surface waters creates a risk of spreading bacteria and other pathogens which can harm aquatic life and animals that use the waters and make the waters unsafe for recreational and drinking water purposes. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from the Redding Division of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento.
February 28, 2002Missouri Company To Pay Over $1.5 Million in Fines, Costs, Restitution
Cargill Pork Inc., which operates a 17,000 pig farming operation in Martinsburg, MO, pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and will pay out a total of $1,551,000, including a fine of $1 million, $51,000 in restitution to the State of Missouri for natural resources damages and the costs of investigation and $500,000 in already spent remediation costs. The defendant admitted illegally discharging hog waste from holding ponds at its facility into the Loutre River, which is a tributary of the Missouri River. The discharge occurred due to a failure to properly operate waste management equipment. In addition, no report of the release was made to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. After the release, 53,000 fish were killed along a five mile stretch of the Loutre River. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Attorney General's Office with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in St. Louis.