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E-M:/ 50 Violations since Christmas from Hudson area CAFOs



P.O. Box 254 HUDSON, MICHIGAN 49247 PHONE: 517-383-2234 FAX 517-383-9003


For Immediate Release                                                                          Contact: John Klein 517-383-2234

June 24, 2003                                                                                                   Lynn Henning 517-605-7740





(Hudson, MI) Since Christmas 2003, large scale livestock factories near of Hudson, MI, have been cited by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality 50 times for illegal discharges of manure and other wastes into lakes and streams of the area. Residents living near Vreba Hoff Dairy LLC and the 10 other concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in the area have seen little progress in terms of state and federal agencies enforcing laws to require clean up of these operations. Only two of the eleven operations near this Lenawee County town of 2,500 have paid fines, both as a result of lawsuits brought by environmental organizations, which were later joined by the State.


Concerned Hudson area citizens are demanding that the DEQ take effective enforcement action to stop the continuing water and air pollution that is causing irreversible harm to the health and welfare of the community’s families, waterways and property values. “Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties have become Michigan’s manure cesspool, paying the price with our health, our property values and our community’s well being,” said John Klein, President of Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM).


“Thousands of hours of volunteer work and tens of thousands of dollars invested by the people of this community have clearly documented how these dairies and hog operations are destroying our homes, our water and our air,” said Kathy Melmoth, a registered nurse and volunteer water monitor with ECCSCM. “The DEQ has spent a lot of time and money documenting violations of these operations but not one of these operators has been forced to fully clean up the damage they have caused, while they keep pouring huge amounts of deadly wastes into our lakes, streams and the air.” ECCSCM, a group of concerned citizens of Lenawee and Hillsdale County, has been conducting water testing with a grant from the Sierra Club, taking photographs and otherwise documenting the pollution caused by these operations to convince the DEQ to take action.


Information obtained by ECCSCM from DEQ files under the Freedom of Information Act shows that the worst offender by far is the Vreba Hoff Dairy LLC. Vreba Hoff has racked up citations for 35 violations of the Clean Water Act since December 23rd, for a total of 56 violations since July 2001. Last September the Michigan DEQ brought a lawsuit against the massive dairy CAFO, which has more than 5,000 dairy cows producing more urine and feces than 120,000 people. Damage to the waterways caused by pollution from the Vreba Hoff Dairy LLC during these six months includes*:


• Repeated discharges into Lime Lake, which is home to more than 100 families. In early May, Lime Lake suffered

an enormous algae bloom, turning the lake bright green, after huge amounts of nutrients flowed from CAFO manure

application upstream.


• A diesel fuel spill which required a dam and booms to be placed in a country drain in an attempt to contain the

pollutant. Diesel fuel drained out of a fuel tank in the middle of one of the Vreba Hoff field and ran into the Medina

Drain. The cause of the leak is uncertain.


• In a June DEQ violation letter, the DEQ stated that “numerous water samples collected from the storm water

discharge channel over the past four months have revealed high concentrations of pathogens and nutrients indicative of a direct discharge of polluting materials."


• DEQ officials recently warned the volunteer water monitors with ECCSCM to wear protective gear when collecting

water samples because bloodworms had been found in some of the streams. Bloodworms can transmit hepatitis

to humans, but no community wide warning has been issued warning local residents of the threat.


Earlier this year the DEQ also issued its decision to list two streams downstream from Vreba Hoff (the Medina Drain and Durfee Creek) on the state’s “impaired waters” list, which the Clean Water Act requires to be updated every two years. Janet Kauffman, who is one of the volunteer water monitors working with ECCSCM, points out that the damage to these streams has happened during just the seven years since Vreba Hoff set up its operations in the Hudson area. “After 7 years of liquid manure on tile-drained fields, streams have been severely impaired,” said Kauffman. “In a few more years, what will happen to all the other streams draining all the other CAFOs?”


*www.nocafos.org, the website for Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM), contains a comprehensive list of the DEQ’s citations against the eleven Hudson area CAFOs going back to 2000.





Anne Woiwode, Director

Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter

109 East Grand River Avenue,  Lansing, MI  48906

ph: 517-484-2372 fx: 517-484-3108 e: anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org

website:  http://michigan.sierraclub.org