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Fwd: E-M:/ Sierra Club gives Notice on 4 Livestock Factories


Thanks for posting your press release (attached) regarding your "Notice of Intent to Sue" on Enviro-Mich.  While I would agree with you that agricultural waste management cases are among our most problematic, I do have to strongly disagree with the statement made by your attorney that   "So far, state officials have been unwilling to take any action to address this problem."  That is just NOT true!

Both the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) have substantial compliance and enforcement programs in place to deal with such violations.  In particular, our agency has taken formal enforcement actions against all four of the businesses listed.  I have summarized them for you below:

1.) Bruinsma Farms - MDEQ issued a unilateral Director's Order for the Abatement of Water Pollution to Bruinsma Farms in November, 1997 to stop violations of water resource protection laws and rules.  We subsequently entered an Administrative Consent Order to settle outstanding violations in August, 1999.  This Order required a corrective program including the development and implementation of a comprehensive manure management plan for their operation.  It also contained a penalty of $3,000.00.

When Bruinsma Farms violated the terms of that order they paid $9,250.00 in stipulated penalties related to non-compliance with the terms of the Administrative Consent Order.  The complete text of these orders and other file information is available by contacting Janice Tompkins in our Grand Rapids District Office (email = tompkinj@state.mi.us).

2.) Walnutdale Farms - MDEQ entered an Administrative Consent Order with Walnutdale farms in October, 1998 to settle violations of water resource protection laws (discharge of silage leachate and manure runoff from a feedlot area to the Red Run Drain, Allegan County).  Walnutdale Farms agreed to settle this matter for penalties and supplemental environmental projects totaling $63,000.00; paid MDEQ costs of $7,500.00; and agreed to implement a corrective program for the management of silage and manure wastes at their site.

3.)  River Ridge Dairy (former Grand River Dairy - Ed Hanenberg Farms) -  MDEQ has conducted two formal enforcement actions against this operator and we have a third action in process.   In 1985-86, when it was known as Grand River Dairy,  this facility experienced a number of losses of manure waste to the waters of the state.  The largest occurred in January of 1986 when over a million gallons was discharged to the Grand River.  This caused a fish kill and resulted in an MDNR enforcement action that required them to pay $4,846.38 in damages for the lost fishery resources.

In 1996 MDEQ entered an Administrative Consent Order with River Ridge Farms to settle additional violations involving the discharge of liquid manure and rotten potato waste liquids to the waters of the state.  This order required them to develop and implement a waste management plan for their operations to prevent any future discharges.  It further required that the state be reimbursed $4,000.00 for the cost of compliance and enforcement actions and that Mr. Hanenberg pay a civil penalty of $20,000.00 to the general fund of the state of Michigan.  

Subsequent to this settlement, we had a new case referred to us from our district office involving another release.  This situation involved the application of liquid manure waste to frozen ground.  An unexpected rapid warming in February of 2000 caused this manure to be discharged to surface water.  We are currently attempting to resolve that matter.  As a "repeat offender" we have increased the proposed civil penalty that we will accept from Mr. Hanenberg to resolve his latest violations and will require the implementation of a comprehensive pollution control program at all of his facilities.   

The details of our extensive compliance and enforcement actions at Mr. Hanenberg's operations can again be reviewed by contacting Janice Tompkins in our Grand Rapids District Office.

4.) Bradford Dairy - This is a current enforcement case being managed by the MDEQ.  We have negotiated a settlement agreement which includes a corrective program and the payment of a civil penalty for violations of water pollution control laws as well as the  recovery of agency costs of compliance and enforcement activities.  I anticipate that we will settle this case by September.  I can't give you the details since we are still in settlement negotiations.  However, once the case is settled, the documents will be publicly available.

We also have taken formal enforcement actions against several other agri-business operations around the state.  I have previously posted to this list-server a summary of our enforcement cases over the past ten years.  Please contact me if you'd like a list of them.

I mention all of these specific actions so that you will be aware of them prior to filing any legal action.  Your attorney may wish to review these cases to see if you may have the potential of being estopped from further legal action by the doctrine of res judicata for violations that we have resolved (...I'm no lawyer...I just hear a lot of these Latin phrases bandied about....)

Like all regulatory agencies (...and most police departments, prosecutor's offices, city attorneys, etc. etc....) our resources are limited.  We try to do as much as we can with the resources that are available.  This includes directing our compliance and enforcement efforts to assure that we achieve the greatest amount of environmental protection possible for the people of the State of Michigan.  I hope that you can appreciate our position.  

I hope also that the Sierra Club will see us as your partners in protecting the environment and natural resources of this great state.  It does little good, in my mind, to be critical of the state regulatory agencies in your press releases.  This just draws vital energy into internecine bickering....energy which should be focused on eliminating the pollution problems.  Let's all work together to solve the problem.


Thomas K. Rohrer, Chief
Enforcement Unit
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 30273
Lansing,  MI  48909-7773
(517) 335-4101
(517) 373-2040 - fax

e-mail = rohrert@state.mi.us

"Protecting and enhancing the quality of Michigan's surface waters"

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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

from the Sierra Club

July 25, 2000                          Anne Woiwode, 517-484-2372
                                       Aaron Isherwood, 415-977-5680



Grand Rapids, MI - The Sierra Club announced today that it has sent letters 
to four Michigan dairies announcing its intent to file suit against the 
facilities for causing major water pollution problems.  The four dairies 
are Bruinsma Farms, River Ridge Farms, Walnutdale Farms, and Bradford Dairy 
Farms.  The letters state that each facility has repeatedly polluted 
Michigan's waterways and violated the Clean Water Act.

        "These facilities are no friend to Michigan's families," said Ms. 
Martha Lore, Vice-Chair of the West Michigan Group of the Mackinac Chapter. 
"They overwhelm their neighbors with the stench of cow excrement and poison 
our streams.  It is time for these dairies to stop treating Michigan's 
rivers like a sewer." 

        Large industrial-type dairies, known as concentrated animal feeding 
operations or CAFOs, create one of Michigan's most dangerous water 
pollution problems.  The facilities' waste disposal practices - spraying 
manure onto croplands or storing it in open air waste pits - often result 
in leaks, spills and runoff that pollute ground and surface water and 
create a health risk to people and wildlife. Under the Clean Water Act, 
CAFOs are required to obtain permits if they discharge waste to the 
nation's waters.

        Samples of a 1997 discharge from Walnutdale Farms contained 
pollutant levels many times higher than typical waste entering a sewage 
plant; and in 1986, River Ridge Farms (formerly Grand River Dairies) 
spilled one million gallons of manure into the Grand River, causing a major 
fish kill.  Although the dairies have made some limited improvements in 
their waste management practices since these events occurred, the dairies 
continue to cause significant pollution problems.   
        "Despite repeated spills, none of these facilities has obtained the 
required permits, which are designed to protect our waterways from 
pollution," said Sierra Club attorney Aaron Isherwood.  "So far, state 
officials have been unwilling to take any action to address this problem.  
That's why the Sierra Club is filing suit - the dairies are simply not 
cleaning up after themselves and state officials appear unwilling to do 
anything about it. Unfortunately, the only way to get them to stop 
polluting Michigan's waterways is to go to court."  

        "Michigan's waterways are not a dumping ground for dairy waste," 
Ms. Lore concluded.  "It's time to protect Michigan's waters and stop 
animal factory pollution -- for our families and for our future."

        Additional information about the four facilities is available from 
the Sierra Club.  Please contact the Mackinac Chapter office at 
517-484-2372 for copies of these materials.


The Sierra Club's campaign to protect America's water from Concentrated 
Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) - one of the organization's four national 
priority campaigns - is committed to keeping factory farm pollution out of 
America's drinking water, lakes and rivers, and eliminating the threats 
that CAFOs pose to our public health and rural heritage.

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"

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