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E-M:/ CORRECTION: Manure Disaster Continues: Citizens videotape tanker trucks dumping silage leachate into drain

From Lynn Henning: 
I need to make one correction, the sileage leachate was being dumped by the terragator which is a giant three wheeled manure hauler.  He would suck it up out of the sileage leachate holding area and back up to the edge of a hill and dump the whole load.  There were three tanker trucks hauling from Vreba Hoff II to Vreba Hoff I.  Lynn
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2003 10:59 PM
Subject: E-M:/ Manure Disaster Continues: Citizens videotape tanker trucks dumping silage leachate into drain

Intentional dumping of Silage Leachate caught on video

As DEQ officials continue trying to close the Pandora's box opened by CAFOs and spring runoff in the manure disaster in south central Michigan, word comes that local citizens have filmed two of the seven tanker trucks they witnessed dumping silage leachate down a hill into a county drain at the Vreba Hoff 1 Dairy. Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM) president John Klein and vice president Lynn Henning filmed the trucks pouring the wastes onto the hillside above the drain.  Downstream in this same drain just two days ago, dissolved oxygen (DO) readings were tested at 0.7 mg/L, effectively guaranteeing that all aquatic life has been killed in this waterway. 

Silage leachate is waste water from silage, a livestock feed created by chopping up whole stalks of corn and storing it in bunkers or silos. Silage leachate is one of the less well known but environmentally devastating pollutants associated with large scale animal factories such as dairies. ECCSCM water testers last year caught an illegal discharge of silage leachate when DO levels dropped to this same outrageously low level.

A paper by MSU Agriculture Extension staff from 2002 explains that silage leachate "when discharged into surface water can remove so much oxygen that fish and other aquatic creatures die immediately", contains nutrients harmful to groundwater, and is so acidic that it can actually burn or kill vegetation (see  
http://www.maeap.org/education_controlling_silage_leachate.pdf ). By testing for both E.coli bacteria and dissolved oxygen, ECCSCM has discovered illegal discharges of a variety of different kinds in their community. 

Temporary dam holding, but streams and drains full of manure

The temporary dam holding millons of manure contaminated water on a field at the Vreba Hoff 2 facility is reportedly still holding, and water is being pumped out and shipped to a lagoon at Vreba Hoff 1, however  photos today of waterways around the facility show huge amounts of milky grey brown water that reportedly smells strongly of manure rushing out of tiles and culverts, through drains and downstream into lakes and streams. Compared to photos earlier this week, the amount of manure water running into and through surface waters is much greater now. 

One challenge now for locals is that as the DEQ moves toward enforcement, less and less information is available to the public about the measures taken, even for those whose yeoman volunteer efforts have helped identify the sources of the contamination.  No public announcements have been made by the state or feds about the disaster underway, and so as the nightmare that has become their community continues to unfold, many remain totally in the dark about enforcement actions, about even the emergency actions to try to address the pathogen contaminated waters.  Perhaps there is a site, phone numbers, or other public information source that someone can suggest where local people can find out about an unfolding disaster like this as it is taking place so that people know they must avoid contact with the water? 

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

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