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E-M:/ Sierra Club files Citizen Suit Against MI CAFO



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Enviro-Mich message from Anne Woiwode <anne.woiwode@prodigy.net>
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For Immediate Release	Contact:  Anne Woiwode 517-484-2372
November 30, 2000	       Aaron Isherwood 415-977-5680

SIERRA CLUB FILES CITIZENíS  SUIT TO STOP POLLUTION FROM MICHIGAN FACTORY FARM

The Sierra Club has filed a citizenís suit against a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) near Wayland, Michigan, to force the clean up of water pollution contaminating the Little Rabbit River and its tributaries in the Kalamazoo River watershed.  On July 25th the environmental organization issued a Notice of Intent to Sue under the federal Clean Water Act to Walnutdale Farms, located approximately 15 miles south of Grand Rapids.  The lawsuit follows from that notice, is the first citizen suit against a CAFO in Michigan under the Clean Water Act, and raises violations of Michiganís Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) as well.  

	"Walnutdale Farms not only has failed to respond to Sierra Clubís notice letter, they have racked up additional water quality violations since July when we gave them notice of our intent to sue," said Anne Woiwode, Program Director for the Mackinac (Michigan) Chapter of the Sierra Club.  "Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has continued to refuse to take action to bring this facility into compliance with the law by requiring Walnutdale Farms and other CAFOs to apply for and obtain a water quality permits in order to continue to operate."

The Sierra Club cites the obstinate resistance of the State of Michigan against meeting its mandates under the Clean Water Act as additional impetus for bringing this citizenís suit.  In addition to seeking clean up of Walnutdale Farms, the lawsuit seeks to require the CAFO to seek and obtain a water quality permit, known as an National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, in order to continue operations.  The state is refusing to require or to issue NPDES permits for any CAFOs, including for existing facilities such as Walnutdale Farms which have repeatedly violated water quality standards.  At least two CAFOs have now submitted applications to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for NPDES permits, but the agency is refusing to process those permit applications. NPDES permits set standards, provide for public notice and input into their issuance, require monitoring and periodic updating, and provide stronger enforcement tools than are available under Michiganís voluntary compliance standards. 

Waltnutdale Farms has a history of repeated discharges of manure wastes and other pollutants directly into the tributaries of the Little Rabbit River going back to 1992, according to records compiled by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).  Waste from the facility has degraded water quality on the Little Rabbit River and its tributaries preventing enjoyment of fishing, canoeing, and other recreational activities along the river banks.  The most recent violations of water quality standards were found last month, when a Sierra Club member filed a complaint with MDEQ after observing a breach in an earthen berm mandated under previous enforcement actions by MDEQ.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan by express delivery on Wednesday, November 29th.  Sierra Club is represented by Aaron Isherwood of the Sierra Club in San Francisco, CA, and Chris Bzdok of Olson, Noonan & Bzdok of Traverse City.  Sierra Club has four other outstanding Notices of Intent to Sue against other Michigan CAFOs.

-end-

Copies of the 17 page complaint are available via electronic mail. Contact Anne Woiwode at 517-484-2372 or anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org
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Anne M. Woiwode, Program Director, Michigan Forest Biodiversity Program
Sierra Club - Mackinac Chapter, 109 East Grand River Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48906    ph: 517-484-2372  fax: 517-484-3108 
 



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