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E-M:/ EPA Enforcement Action at CAFO wins Sierra Club praise
Enviro-Mich message from email@example.com
For Immediate Release Contact: Anne Woiwode
September 13, 2000
Sierra Club Praises EPA's Aggressive Clean Water Act Enforcement at Lenawee
State's Failure to Enforce Laws Prompts Federal Action
The Sierra Club today is praising an aggressive and innovative enforcement
action by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against a large scale
concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Lenawee County, Michigan.
In the face of the State of Michigan's adamant refusal to comply with Clean
Water Act requirements to bring polluting CAFOs under water quality
permits, the federal agency yesterday issued an Order against the Hartland
Farms, Inc., outside Hudson. The EPA's Order is designed to bring an end
to potentially criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act, and to
bring the facility under what Sierra Club characterizes as a "virtual"
water quality permit under the jurisdiction of the EPA.
"The Hartland Farms case shows unequivocally that the state of Michigan's
obstinate refusal to comply with the Clean Water Act is putting Michigan
families in harms way," according to Anne Woiwode, Program Director for the
Michigan Sierra Club. "The EPA is stepping to the plate on this issue, and
setting a standard that may mean this growing threat to health, welfare and
the environment in Michigan will at last begin to be reversed."
The EPA ordered Hartland Farms, a dairy with 710 cows, to "immediately
cease all unauthorized discharges" of waste waters, to "apply to the
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, for an NPDES [National
Pollution Discharge Elimination System] permit for your concentrated animal
feeding operation" within 15 days of the order, and to come into compliance
with requirements identical to those which would be required if under an
NPDES permit for the facility. The Order will stay in effect, including
periodic updates and renewals, until Michigan's Department of Environmental
Quality brings the facility under an NPDES permit. The state has refused
to issue NPDES permits for any CAFOs to date, and is the only state in EPA
Region 5 resisting this requirement.
The Order arises out of an inspection by EPA in July which caught egregious
violations missed by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality staff in
inspections earlier this year. The EPA found the discharge of manure and
waste waters through a pond which "has a direct hydrologic connection to
Rooney Drain and Bear Creek because of an outlet tile which is connected to
Rooney Drain". Bear Creek flows into Lake Hudson, site of Lake Hudson
State Park and Recreation Area. The EPA is ordering "dye and smoke
testing" be conducted within 60 days of the issuance of the Order to trace
the discharge from catch basins for which the receiving waters are unknown.
The possibility is raised that these catch basins built by Hartland Farms
discharge polluted waters into a different drainage system.
Hartland Farms has also been ordered to prepare, implement and annually
update a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan, which will both identify
all wastes and the amounts produced, how they are to be disposed of and
"steps taken to prevent the discharge of animal waste to waters of the
United States." Extensive record keeping and reporting is required, as
well as preparation and submission of a Storm Water Pollution Prevention
Plan. Particular concern about ensuring that waste lagoons at the facility
do not overflow and that no spills from equipment malfunctions occur is
evidenced in the Order.
Sierra Club's Woiwode says "Ideally, the State of Michigan will do
its job and bring this and all the other polluting livestock factories in
the state into compliance with the law. Until that happens, we are
grateful that the USEPA is putting the health and welfare of Michigan's
citizens above those of the Farm Bureau and the other agriculture industry
giants in control of state's policies on CAFOs today. This is a very
important step, however the problems will continue until either Michigan's
authority over these facilities is taken away, or the state comes into
compliance with the law."
The Sierra Club obtained the Order through a Freedom of Information Act
request to US EPA Region 5. Copies of the Order and cover letter are
available in electronic form or by fax from Sierra Club by contacting Anne
Woiwode at 517-484-2372.
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