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E-M:/ Night dumping? Manure Disaster deepens

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

South central Michigan manure disaster continues:

Around 10 p.m. last night (Saturday, Ides of March), residents went out to
check on the status of drains that had been running with manure, and
discovered downstream from one facility which just signed a consent judgment
with DEQ a few weeks ago that the flow was very high at several sites (they
check drains and streams where they cross public rights of way), there was
intense discoloration of the water, and the smell so bad that they could
smell it before leaving their vehicle.  In the distance, they heard a
tractor running, and are very concerned that the wastes temporarily dammed
up by one facility were now being pumped into the drains. This facility for
the past two days has also been using a center pivot irrigator to spread
onto saturated, thawing soils.

The DEQ staff who have already been run ragged by the unfolding nightmare
and deserve a huge amount of credit for trying to get a handle on this
disturbing mess left by the Engler Administration, were expected to be out
there today, but if intentional night dumping was happening it may be tough
to get the documentation today on site.

For those, particularly in the agriculture industry and agencies, who have
told Michiganders for years that voluntary compliance will work as the sole
or primary way to address CAFO wastes, this disaster demonstrates one of the
most severe follies of this strategy. These facilities are not like
factories where you can turn off the machines and stop the discharge as soon
as a problem emerges.  Unless you remove or slaughter the cows, pigs,
chickens, etc., they continue to defecate and urinate -- flaws in the design
and practice in these facilities can lead to a cascading environmental
disaster built upon entirely predictable weather events and conditions. Even
operating according to approved plans, some of these facilities still
contaminate waters and threaten lives and health downstream.

Isn't it time to stop HOPING that we won't see disasters like this, with
pathogen laden wastes running into waterways upon which human communities
and habitats are dependent, and start AVOIDING disaster by not allowing them
to be built or stopping them from operating as soon as they fail to protect
human health and the environment?

Anne Woiwode

Anne Woiwode, Staff Director, Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48906
517-484-2372; fax 517-484-3108  anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org
visit the Mackinac Chapter on the web at http://michigan.sierraclub.org

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