Feedlots face E.P.A. action over pollution violations

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Three beef feedlot operations in Iowa are facing a series of civil enforcement actions from the Environmental Protection Agency for violations of the Clean Water Act. These actions are part of a continuing enforcement emphasis aimed at ending harmful discharges of pollutants from concentrated animal feeding operations (C.A.F.O.s) into the region’s rivers and streams, according to E.P.A.

C.A.F.O. runoff may contain pathogens and sediment, as well as nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, all of which can negatively impact aquatic life and water quality, according to the agency.

One of the three most-recent enforcement actions involves a civil penalty against a C.A.F.O. for failure to comply with its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (N.P.D.E.S.) permit. Bruce Feedlot, of Hastings, Iowa, has agreed to pay a $31,573 civil penalty for its unauthorized discharges of pollutants into Indian Creek and its tributaries in Mills County, Iowa. E.P.A.’s settlement with Bruce Feedlot is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final.

The other two enforcement actions involve administrative compliance orders issued to medium-sized C.A.F.O.s, which are feedlots containing between 300 and 999 cattle. E.P.A. has documented significant water quality problems associated with medium C.A.F.O.s and is making enforcement at these operations a priority.

Groeneweg Farm, of Rock Valley, Iowa, must apply for an N.P.D.E.S. permit and complete wastewater controls at its facilities by Oct. 31, 2011, to end unauthorized discharges of pollutants into an unnamed tributary of the Rock River in Sioux County, Iowa. Gradert/Cla-Don/Winterfeld Feedlot, of Ireton, Iowa, must apply for an N.P.D.E.S. permit and complete wastewater controls at its facilities by Oct. 31, 2011, to end unauthorized discharges of pollutants into Six Mile Creek in Sioux County, Iowa.

“In some instances, we are finding harmful bacteria such as E. coli in wastewater discharged by feedlots at levels that are exponentially higher than the levels at which E.P.A. permits municipal wastewater treatment systems to discharge their treated wastewater,” said Karl Brooks, E.P.A. Regional Administrator. “This is just one measure of the harm that can come when feedlots fail to operate within the law.”
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