[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ CAFO air -- inaction



Posted with permission.  ~ Rita


From: Janet Kauffman [mailto:jkauffman@emich.edu]
Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2005 8:00 PM
Subject: CAFO air -- inaction

 

Chronology of Neglect -- One CAFO's Bad Air -- Winter 2004 to the present
DEQ and MDA documents reveal a sad story of jurisdictional confusion over CAFO air emissions, leaving neighbors stuck in stench-- the sickness of pig stink-- for a year and a half.  People called MDA, they called DEQ; nobody knew who was in charge, including the agencies.  The consequence? -- inaction, and prolonged suffering of neighbors in an agricultural community.  

Since the expansion of a swine CAFO near Morenci in Winter 2004 -- construction which was completed without using MDA's Siting guidelines -- neighbors have pleaded for help from MDA, DEQ, their local officials, Sen. Cameron Brown, and even Governor Granholm.  The CAFO was built too close, much too close, to neighbors.  

Finally this week, in a letter to the CAFO on June 13, MDA said so: "this facility does not meet the setback requirements of the Site Selection GAAMPSs."  

So, now what?  Well, of course, now it's there.  In the neighbors' faces. One neighbor, who's lived in her farmhouse for 50 years, wrote last year to Gov. Granholm, "It is a terrible situation-- the odor from the hogs is nauseating. We have tried to get the Mich. Dept. of Ag to help -- they do nothing."  Another letter, to Sen. Brown this February, said, "I don't deserve to be driven from my home."

During the last year, DEQ received at least 18 air complaints about the CAFO, investigated them, and often found emissions "distinct and objectionable."  MDA also received several calls.  MDA, interestingly, found no problem, not once, barely a "whiff," one reported, all complaints "not verified." Cases closed.

This February, DEQ prepared a Letter of Violation to the CAFO citing multiple violations of the federal Clean Air Act as well as Michigan's Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, Rule 901.  The letter, however, was never sent.  Although the letter cited 9 complaints and 7 follow-up inspections in Oct, Nov, Dec 2004 and Feb 2005, all documenting "distinct, definite and often objectionable odors," MDA stepped in at the last minute, argued a new process required a hard-copy referral to DEQ, not just email, etc., etc., claimed jurisdiction over air emissions, and then -- did nothing.  

Since then, since February, MDA has taken no action.  They waited and waited, told complainants the GAAMPs were voluntary, sent information to the CAFO about complying, retroactively, and then waited some more.  When the CAFO finally submitted details about its facility, MDA wrote the June 13 letter and recommended biofilters as a "variance" to the setback requirements. The biofilters aren't a requirement.  MDA simply reminded the CAFO: "in order for MDA to accept the proposed OMP [Odor Management Plan] for this new swine production facility, odor control biofilters or equivalent odor reduction technologies must be properly installed."

How much longer will the neighbors have to wait for clean air?  A long long time, if the CAFO ignores MDA's suggestion. As it can. As it has. MDA has no clout -- they have guidelines, voluntary guidelines. MDA has no rules, no air monitoring equipment, no protocol for responding to health concerns.  
  
How bad is it?  Residents report headaches, nausea, the inability to go outside; one neighbor without air conditioning described stench so bad he had to shut the windows in terrible summer heat. One DEQ investigator driving by the CAFO with his asthmatic son had to leave the scene when the son required his inhaler.  Healthy neighbors, but especially children and the elderly, vulnerable populations, continue to suffer the consequences of Michigan's squabbling agencies and the CAFOs' relentless emissions.

It is wrong, a violation of our deepest values, for us to turn away from the weakest and their suffering, for us to dismiss them, turn them back into their houses -- while we give the strongest, the most negligent, a free pass to foul the air.


-Janet Kauffman
ECCSCM
details from FOIAed DEQ, MDA documents

(this summary is posted online, too -- www.nocafos.org/news.htm )