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E-M:/ EPA Enforcement Action at CAFO wins Sierra Club praise

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

For Immediate Release                           Contact: Anne Woiwode
September 13, 2000                                              

Sierra Club Praises EPA's Aggressive Clean Water Act Enforcement at Lenawee 
County Dairy
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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