The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

November 21, 2013

Groups to pursue lawsuit against hog farm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Environmental and animal welfare organizations on Thursday filed a notice of intent to sue a southeast Iowa hog farm after a recent accident spilled thousands of gallons of hog manure into a creek near the Des Moines River.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the Humane Society of the United States said they intend to file a lawsuit in 60 days against Maschhoff Pork, an Illinois company that operates a pig farm near Keosauqua.

Under the federal Clean Water Act, those seeking to challenge businesses they believe are polluting water must file such a notice first.

The groups oppose large-scale livestock farms and have pushed the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to increase regulatory control over the farms.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Iowa Sierra Club filed a petition in 2007 with the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to have the federal agency step in and take over regulation of water quality in the state. The petition alleged Iowa was failing to be aggressive enough in stopping water pollution. In September the state reached an agreement with the EPA promising to step up inspections of more livestock farms and enforce penalties when spills occur.

The environmental and animal welfare groups want the state to issue Clean Water Act permits for facilities with repeated spills. A permit would force farms to conform to stricter rules by spelling out specific changes that could include upgrading manure storage equipment and other measures. The permit process could also result in increased fines for future spills.

The Maschhoff farm near Keosauaqua houses nearly 7,500 sows producing about 11 million gallons of manure a year. It is retained in a lagoon and occasionally spread onto about 591 acres of surrounding farmland.

The farm spilled about 6,000 gallons of hog manure in November 2007 and had two spills in December 2011 the second of which spilled more than 9,000 gallons of manure into a creek and a pond.

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