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IEPA calls for factory farm to cease waste spraying, cleanup spill following contamination of Hooper Branch and Beaver Creek
Online Staff Report
BEAVERVILLE, Ill. — Illinois waterways and wildlife have again been polluted by alleged improper manure waste management at a factory hog farm.
Hopkins Ridge, LLC, in Beaverville, Ill., confines more than 2,500 hogs, which by comparison produces the same amount of waste as approximately 12,500 humans. It is alleged that the contamination of Hooper Branch and Beaver Creek and the subsequent fish-kill were the result of manure spraying.
Beaverville is in Iroquois County on the eastern edge of the state, about 150 miles south of Chicago.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is asking for an immediate order to cease further waste spraying and cleanup of the spill. The Agency claims that the livestock operation contaminated waters of the state without a Clean Water Act permit and violated field application and waste storage regulations.
“Spraying liquefied manure is one of the cheapest ways to dispose of waste, but it carries a risk of runoff pollution, drift and odor,” said Karen Hudson, a farmer and member of the Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water (ICCAW). “Industrial-scale animal feeding operations carry a ‘top-heavy’ liability burden to act responsibly when handling the vast amount of raw waste they create. They are famous for ‘dropping the ball’ and spills, fish-kills, and improper manure handling are commonplace.
“A USDA study shows that factory farms routinely cut corners with irresponsible manure management practices with significant environmental consequences,” Hudson added. “The report concluded that factory farms have been shifting over $2 billion in environmental costs to rural communities.”
Attorney Danielle Diamond of ICCAW said, “Clean Water Act permits are actually intended to prevent Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) from discharging waste into surface waters.” However, the Illinois EPA typically only requires CAFOs to obtain permits after they discharge, which means adequate protections generally aren’t put into place until after pollution has already occurred.
The agency’s permitting and regulatory scheme for CAFOs will likely be questioned by the Illinois Pollution Control Board later this month. The board is scheduled to hold hearings beginning Aug. 21 in Springfield, Ill., to consider CAFO regulations proposed by the Illinois EPA.
Under the agency’s proposed regulations, only a small universe of already polluting CAFOs will be required to apply for permits.
Diamond concluded, “Had the Hopkins Ridge, LLC, hog facility been required to have a permit prior to the alleged discharge, it is highly likely the fish-kill would not have occurred.”
Posted Aug. 17, 2012