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E-M:/ Cesspools of Shame -- report on Animal Factories

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>


This report is an exceptional overview of the enormous problems posed by
concentrated animal feeding operations nationwide.  The release below points
out the Michigan connections --

Anne Woiwode

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Patty Cantrell, economic analyst			Robbin Marks
Michigan Land Use Institute 				Natural Resources Defense Council
Phone: 231-882-4723 ext. 14 • Fax: 231-882-7350	Washington D.C.
Email: patty@mlui.org • Web site: www.mlui.org		202-289-6868

Anne Woiwode, director
Sierra Club — Mackinac Chapter
Phone: 517-484-2372 • Fax: 517-484-3108
Email: anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org

Factory Farm Health Hazards Clear in National Report
Michigan livestock factories operate without state oversight

Benzonia — Every year factory farms dump 220 billion gallons of animal waste
onto farmland and into U.S. waterways, posing a major threat to public
health, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources
Defense Council and the Clean Water Network. The report, Cesspools of Shame:
How Factory Farm Lagoons and Sprayfields Threaten Environmental and Public
Health, is the most comprehensive to date on factory farm waste storage and
disposal. The groups call on the Bush administration to phase out waste
lagoons at large-scale hog, dairy and egg farms and ban the construction of
new ones. Read the report after 1 p.m. today at:

Recent catastrophic lagoon leaks and manure spills at factory farms in
Michigan provide further evidence of NRDC’s findings: Factory farm practices
are significant hazards to public health and the environment. Yet Michigan
regulators are far behind other states in responding to this problem with
solid state oversight. Michigan does not require livestock factories to have
permits and relies on owners to build and operate massive manure management
systems safely.

The result is that if the state takes action, it does so only after citizens
complain about thousands of gallons of manure contaminating the water, said
Patty Cantrell of the Michigan Land Use Institute. “The cost to farmers,
neighbors, and the environment is far greater when the state abandons its
proper role of setting enforceable standards and monitoring compliance.
Pollution prevention is the purpose of permits.”

Michigan’s bluff
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency served the Michigan Department of
Environmental Quality notice in April that the federal government will step
in to issue Clean Water Act permits in Michigan if the state does not do its
environmental duty. Read the EPA’s telling review of Michigan’s program at:

The federal action comes after the Michigan Land Use Institute, the Sierra
Club — Mackinac Chapter, the Michigan Environmental Council, and individual
citizens petitioned the EPA for help with Michigan’s “Russian roulette”
policy on livestock factories.

“The Engler administration is putting thousands of people at risk because it
stubbornly refuses to take even minimal steps to regulate animal factories,”
said Anne Woiwode, director of the Sierra Club — Mackinac Chapter. “Governor
Engler and other Michigan policy makers owe it to their constituents to read
this NRDC report and take action to address this growing threat.”

Time to ban damaging practices
While the EPA currently allows lagoons and sprayfields under Clean Water Act
permits, the national report provides compelling evidence that the open-air
pits and massive manure spreading practices are outdated and dangerous. But
the EPA is unlikely to ban the use of the lagoon and sprayfield system at
large-scale animal feedlots, according to the NRDC. Under its proposed
technology regulations, the agency would allow thousands of existing hog,
dairy, and egg-laying factory farms to continue storing millions of gallons
of liquid manure in lagoons the size of several football fields. Lagoon and
sprayfield wastewater contains bacteria, antibiotics, pathogens
(microorganisms which are potential sources of infection for animals and
humans), a variety of toxins, and nutrients that promote weed growth that
chokes other aquatic life. “This witche’s brew is polluting our air, lakes,
rivers, streams, estuaries, and drinking water,” says Robbin Marks, who
authored the report.

The report also summarizes the wide range of alternatives to the lagoon and
sprayfield system, including pollution prevention and wastewater treatment.
“Factory farms continue to use this polluting system because they have been
allowed to use our farmland, waterways, and the air we breathe as disposal
sites for untreated animal waste,” says Melanie Shepherdson Flynn, an
attorney with NRDC’s Clean Water Project.

About the Michigan Land Use Institute
The Michigan Land Use Institute is an independent, nonprofit organization
with more than 2,400 members in support of its mission of growth management
and natural resources protection.

About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club — Mackinac Chapter is the national club’s state chapter,
with more than 19,000 members in Michigan. Sierra Club works on a full range
of environmental issues, including a national campaign on animal factories
and environmental compliance.

About NRDC and CWN
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization
with 500,000 members nationwide. More information is available through NRDC’
s Web site at <www.nrdc.org>. The Clean Water Network is an alliance of more
than 1,000 organizations working to protect public health and the

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