KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Beef feedlot Adams Land and Cattle Company, located near Broken Bow, Neb., has agreed to pay a $145,000 civil penalty to the US Environmental Protection Agency for violating the federal Clean Water Act and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit related to discharges of pollutants into Mud Creek, according to the EPA.
EPA Region 7 inspected Adams’ facility in December 2010. At the time of the inspection, the facility confined approximately 83,000 cattle. Inspectors reviewed facility operations, required record-keeping and waste management practices, and also visually inspected the facility Adams had allowed its waste storage basins to overfill with manure solids and sediment to the point they could no longer store runoff from large rain events, EPA inspectors documented. As a result, a follow-up inspection was performed in December 2011.
EPA concluded, through these inspections and a review of records provided by Adams, that the facility discharged process wastewater to an unnamed tributary of Mud Creek, a water of the US, on 13 occasions between April 2007 and October 2010. EPA charged these discharges were a result of inadequate storage capacity in holding basins, lack of controls necessary to prevent the Mud Creek tributary from flooding the holding ponds and/or failure of piping associated with land application practices. Adams estimated approximately 140 million gallons of process wastewater was released during these discharges, impacting Mud Creek and its tributary.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) filed a penalty action against Adams on Aug. 10, 2011, that addressed one of the discharges, which required Adams pay a $5,800 penalty along with a $5,800 payment to the Broken Bow, Neb., Chapter of Pheasants Forever. EPA’s penalty action announced most recently penalizes Adams for the other 12 discharge events and related permit violations.
By agreeing to the settlement, Adams Land and Cattle Company has certified it is in compliance with the Clean Water Act. However, the settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period before it becomes final.