Starting at least October 27 and continuing still today, a livestock operation in the Hudson area that has been busted twice by DEQ for violations of the Clean Water Act in the last three years, has been hauling their CAFO wastes and the lagoon bottom itself by dump trucks onto fields, dumping the wastes and not plowing any of it under (the operation is evidently increasing the size of its waste storage cesspool and digging down through the floor of the lagoon).
The photos of the dump trucks carrying and dumping huge quantities of materials from the bottom of the anaerobic cesspools where the waste festers until it is used to destroy the quality of life of the neighbors suggest that this must be an evil joke for Halloween since not even the most out of whack CAFO advocate could call this “agronomic rates” of application. And there is even a bigger joke: DEQ funded this operation to put in what is called a “sub-irrigation” system, what amounts to a huge septic field full of CAFO wastes. Today the lagoon wastes are even being spread on top of this supposed showcase project, which seems like it should not meet the standards for the grant. The goal of this design is to create a way to allow the uptake of nutrients from the waste in the pipes under the field so spreading wastes on top of this is neither part of the plan nor is it even close to “agronomic”.
The neighbors, including children and ill adults, have been suffering ill effects and the stench is spreading for miles. The children are complaining of headaches, and, gosh, wouldn’t it be special to be able to go trick or treating in their neighborhood tonight! But with rain predicted, maybe staying inside won’t be such a bad idea, since the waste will then likely make its way into waterways and, if we are lucky, there might be another Clean Water Act citation against this facility again.
The locals have been forced to find a new word to describe the stench, since the repeat performances of outrageous stench and water pollution have led to an apparent numbness from the authorities who are supposed to take action to enforce the protection of the environment and public health -- the word “feculent” has made its way into the lexicon, and perhaps at least some effort will be made to investigate its meaning.
When contacted, the DEQ Water Bureau has indicated this operation falls under the threshold for an NPDES permit, and so despite its lousy record and it’s current and ongoing horror, it may not get a look. The ping pong between DEQ Air Quality and MDA continues on, with no immediate response from DEQ expected, and MDA not responding yet to the complaints.
MDA may have the authority for enforcing GAAMPs (generally accepted agriculture management practices prescribed under the Right to Farm Act), but even if the operation is found in violation now, all that means is the victims of these horrible circumstances have a brief window to sue them for a nuisance. However, operations that have clearly had violations both of GAAMPs and of environmental regulations have routinely been returned to “verified” status under GAAMPs in subsequent reviews, so timing is everything. A CAFO operator can game the system pretty well with a little experience.
And the stench goes on…
Anne Woiwode, State Director
Sierra Club Mackinac (
517-484-2372 fax 517-484-3108
Enjoy, Explore and Protect - www.michigan.sierraclub.org