Group alleges lawyers for Nora, Ill., megadairy are misleading USEPA, Department of Justice

Staff Report

WARREN, Ill. — In a letter to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) dated Dec. 12, 2011, megadairy lawyer David Crass, of Michael Best and Freidrich, promised to begin performing a series of tests at the Nora megadairy site no later than March 26, 2012. These tests, which were designed to scientifically prove the presence or absence of fractured bedrock under the megadairy, were agreed upon in late 2011 after a series of meetings between the USEPA, the DOJ and representatives of the megadairy.

Yet, in an article in the April 19, 2012, issue of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Donald Manning, another lawyer representing the megadairy, told reporters there is no dye-tracing project under way.

Neighbors of the site say there hasn’t been any activity at the megadairy all year, except for the removal of building materials. Nora is a small village of about 120 in Jo Daviess County in northwestern Illinois.

The DOJ stepped in after the megadairy repeatedly refused to fully answer questionnaires provided by the USEPA, asserting the USEPA had no right to investigate the facility. Once the DOJ stepped in, lawyers for the megadairy met with the USEPA and finally agreed to the dye tracing.

According to reports by nearby residents, preliminary work to conduct the testing began in 2011, when they gave megadairy scientists access to their property to sample perennial springs in preparation for the study.

However, Matthew Alschuler, president of the 501(c)(3) pro-agriculture group Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards (HOMES), said: “The Traditions megadairy appears to be ignoring USEPA’s mandates once again by not performing these tests. If the megadairy really wanted to prove the facility won’t contaminate our drinking water, they should complete the testing they agreed to, instead of further provoking the USEPA and the DOJ.”

Sept. 2, 2011, the Illinois EPA denied a permit that would have allowed the megadairy to build a 14-acre manure pond over the headwaters of a tributary to the Apple River. A spokesman for Illinois EPA mentioned their agency would like to see the results of dye tracing tests before reconsidering any permits for this site.

The letter, written by Crass, was recently obtained from the USEPA via the Freedom of Information Act. Upon request, HOMES will provide a copy to any interested parties.

For more about HOMES and to help support the cause, visit

HOMES is a tax-exempt, pro-agriculture group of farmers and citizens dedicated to protecting family farms, rural communities, human health, and the environment by promoting sustainable agriculture and conserving natural resources.

From the June 27-July 3, 2012, issue

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