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Burlington, Orting Dairies Issued Complaints for Illegal Waste Discharges

Release Date: 5/12/1998
Contact Information: Bob Jacobson
(206) 553-1203

May 12, 1998 - - - - - - - - - - 98-24

Two more dairies along the I-5 corridor have been issued U.S. Environmental Protection Agency complaints alleging they allowed manure or other wastes to enter waterways that flow into Puget Sound. The new complaints bring to five the number of enforcement actions taken by EPA since last December when the agency began its current wave of dairy inspections in western Washington.

The latest dairies to receive complaints are Dan's Dairy of Burlington (Skagit County) and the dairy operated by Pete DeVries and Dale DeVries in Orting (Pierce County). A penalty of $22,000 is being sought from Dan Miller, the owner of Dan's Dairy, and a penalty of $11,000 from the DeVrieses.

The complaints were announced today by LeRoy Loiselle, chief of the water compliance unit at EPA's Northwest regional headquarters in Seattle.

"At both the Miller and Devries dairies, EPA inspectors saw wastes being released in violation of the federal Clean Water Act," Loiselle said.

Two discharges into a drainage ditch -- one of wastewater contaminated by manure, the other organically-rich runoff from a pile of stored silage --- were observed during the January 15 inspection at the Miller dairy. The drainage ditch flows into Padilla Bay.

At the DeVries dairy on January 30, inspectors observed a discharge of manure-contaminated waste into Horse Haven Creek, a tributary of the Puyallup River. The Puyallup empties into Puget Sound.

The inspections at the Miller and DeVries dairies were among the more than four dozen unannounced inspections that EPA has performed since last December at dairies in Pierce, King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. The purpose of the inspections is to check the dairies for runoff of wastes that can pollute nearby streams, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. Runoff from dairies typically contains bacteria, large amounts of nutrients and other organic matter that can degrade water quality and harm wildlife.

Inspectors are mainly concerned with manure, but they also check on how dairies store their silage. Because leachate from stored silage can deplete oxygen, there is a danger that if the leachate entered a creek or stream it could deprive the water of oxygen needed to support aquatic life.

At both the Miller and DeVries dairies, the EPA inspectors took samples of the liquids entering the drainage ditches. Laboratory analyses revealed the presence of fecal coliform bacteria.

Dairy wastes can contain E. coli bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause gastroenteritis, severe fever and, in the most serious cases, kidney failure or even death.

The complaints to the Miller and DeVries dairies were accompanied by compliance orders that require the dairy operators to stop all discharges of waste from storage ponds, silage piles or any animal confinement area, plus all discharges resulting from land application of animal wastes. The dairy operators are required to check daily for any discharge; if one is observed samples must be taken and analyzed by a laboratory for fecal coliforms. Also, EPA must be notified and steps must be taken by the dairy to prevent such discharges from happening again.

The dairies have 30 days from the date they receive the complaints to challenge the penalties EPA has proposed and to contest EPA's allegations.

Earlier this year, EPA issued three similar complaints to dairies in Skagit, Snohomish and King counties. EPA expects to issue more complaints in the coming weeks.