News Archives 2006, 2005
Christmas, 2006 - Just as the holiday and agency vacation
time began, Vreba-Hoff began construction of a new manure
lagoon (no construction permit required, no DEQ approval required? no
oversight under the Consent Judgment?) on Packard Hwy west of Bothwell
-- a gravel road, a 2-mile hauling drive from
the facility on Dillon. No assessment was made so far as we know
about the soils, the site, the possible connections to tiles, to nearby
Vreba-Hoff's Consent Judgment requires treatment of manure to stop the
pollution, not more and more pits of untreated waste,
more and more hauling, more and more dumping.
quick-dug Vreba-Hoff lagoon (at top) adjacent to wetlands; close-up
on right - Dec. 29, 2006
Dec, 2006 - Vreba-Hoff proposes new 5,000-cow
CAFO near Adrian in River Raisin Watershed. This site drains to
Black Creek, already listed as "impaired." Black Creek joins
the River Raisin just upstream from Blissfield, a city that takes its
drinking water from the River. Vreba-Hoff's test wells already dried up a neighbor's well.
See Adrian DailyTelegram article,
Dec. 20, 2006.
See 2 studies from Union of Concerned Scientists on environmental/health
benefits of pasture-based agriculture: Greener
Pastures and Greener
Eggs & Ham
Dec 1, 2006 - Noncompliance letters to Vreba-Hoff from both DEQ and the Attorney General's Office cite multiple, substantial
violations (see complete list), including
unlawful discharges and mismanagement of waste.The Attorney General cites
"numerous violations at both of your farms...the
apparent failures of the Press Treatment System and resulting accumulation
of excessive amounts of CAFO waste, treated and untreated." The letter
notes more than a dozen violations in 6 areas -- Unlawful Discharges,
Press Treatment System, Compost Pads, Waste Storage Structures (overfull),
Storm Water Management, Recordkeeping & Reporting. In October, DEQ
found the Waste Treatment System was "not in operation" during
numerous inspections, and noted "...based on your estimate of production,
you should be running the system no less than 12 hours a day, 364 days
a year in order to treat all manure currently being produced annually."
Dec 1 - rain, field flooding, after a month of heavy manure
application. Think what's flowing to Lake Erie from black manure
fields, bare ground saturated with waste, no crop.
Nov 25 - Thanksgiving weekend - heavy field applications (always on holidays),
including illegal discharges of liquid manure through field tiles at two locations: Vreba-Hoff
1, discharge (E. coli count 10,000/100ml) to Covell
Dr, trib of Bean Creek, and Hartland Farms discharge
(E. coli count 55,000/100ml) to tributary of South Branch of
Nov 25, 2006 - black water in Covell Drain, flowing to Bean
Creek; sample in bottle
Nov, 2006 - updated Health Impacts from CAFOs
and Liquid Manure Application Observed in Lenawee and Hillsdale County:
2002 -2006, now available. This report by ECCSCM volunteer
and R.N., Kathy Melmoth, documents public health concerns and health impacts
from local CAFO air pollution. (Full
report; or 1-page overview)
|Major air pollutants
from CAFO manure application include Hydrogen sulfide, Ammonia, Volatile
Organic Compounds (VOCs), and Particulates. Hydrogen sulfide is a powerful neurotoxin; it can cause permanent brain damage. Short
term symptoms of Hydrogen sulfide include headaches, breathing problems,
shortness of breath, throat irritation, chronic bronchitis, and nausea.
Long term injury can include memory loss, loss of balance, delayed
reaction time, and damage to other cognitive or thinking functions.
Death can come quickly in high doses. Inhaling Hydrogen sulfide is
the most common route into the body and it goes directly from the
lungs to the blood stream. Ammonia causes cough,
eye and nose irritation, sinus, skin and breathing problems. Ammonia
is usually inhaled. There can be hundreds of Volatile Organic
Compounds in CAFO emissions including alcohols, hydrocarbons,
phenols, etc. Particulates can include bioaerosols
such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. People also breathe small particles
of fecal matter, skin cells, feed, etc. Any of these pollutants
can trigger asthma, or make respiratory problems worse.
Oct 17, 2006
- rain last night and manure fields are flowing after heavy field applications
this weekend (see stench alerts). Major contamination
entering Bean Creek Watershed. Some drains are overflowing at CAFO facilities:Shierson
Drain at Bruinsma; Bennett Drain at Waldron Dairy (fields flooded); wetland at Vreba-Hoff on Dillon is
Sept 26, 2006 - Missouri Hog
CAFO must pay $4.5 million to neighbors suffering from stench. (see full
"KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The
nation's second-largest pork producer must pay $4.5 million to three families
bothered by the smell from a northwest Missouri hog farm, a jury ruled.
The same Jackson County
jury also found grounds for punitive damages against Kansas City-based
Premium Standard Farms, but the company agreed not to appeal the actual
damages award and the plaintiffs in exchanged dropped their request for
The families own or owned property
near the company's farm near Trenton.
The families' lawyer, Charles
Speer, said Friday's verdict was "by far and away the biggest award
(in the nation) against a major confined animal producer."
Kirk Goza, an attorney for
Premium Standard Farms, declined to comment after the verdict.
Speer is handling more than
50 other lawsuits against Premium Standard Farms. A separate class action
lawsuit involving a consortium of law firms seeks to represent anyone
who owns property within 10 miles of the company's more than 20 hog farms
Sept, 2006 -
Mich Dept. of Ag reports two local CAFOs have applied for expansion: Vreba-Hoff 1, on Dillon Hwy, from 3,900
cows to 4,929; and Hoffland Dairy on
Haley Rd (formerly Vander Hoff Haley, from 868
to 1,680 cows. That's like adding the waste from
a good-sized city, 54,000+ people, to the huge waste-stream already flowing
on fields in this area.
August 2006 - Vreba-Hoff cited
by U.S. Food and Drug Administration for numerous animal/drug violations: An FDA investigation at Vreba-Hoff on Dillon Hwy "found
that you hold animals under conditions that are so inadequate
that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues are likely
to enter the food supply." Vreba-Hoff was cited for offering "an animal for sale for slaughter as food
that was adulterated" with penicillin. Previous investigations had
found oxytetracycline in tissues in a cow offered for sale. "In regard
to this oxytetracycline residue, our investigator noted that you administered
an approved animal drug via a route, intrauterine, which was not indicated
in the labeling, without benefit of a valid veterinarian-client-patient
relationship and that you failed to maintain adequate treatment records."
FDA letter, (August 14, 2006 - see
August - see timeline on the suffering of neighbors, their symptoms and sickness from State
Line Farms hog emissions, Jan - Aug, 2006. 36 days of stench
so intolerable that neighbors called DEQ. State Line has received two
Letters of Violation for air pollution, citing dozens of days violating
air quality law. Still no fines for this polluting facility.
July, 2006 -
Front page article,"Cattle emissions: Hazardous to health?"
in the Adrian Daily Telegram (7/2/06) describes a pilot project
under development for Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties to assess health
impacts from CAFO facilities and land application, including a 4-page draft questionnaire for residents with exposure to CAFO emissions.
Excerpt from the Telegram article (full
... A four-page complaint form has been developed for people who believe
they may be affected by large livestock operations and liquid manure applied
on surrounding farmland. Forms can be obtained from the Lenawee County
Health Department by calling 264-5202.
“This is the first time we've
done something like this,” said Dr. Dean Sienko, Michigan's acting
chief medical executive.
Complaints about odors and pollution from the large
dairies are required to go to Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality
and Department of Agriculture, he said. But those agencies do not evaluate
human health issues that some residents are concerned about.
“Looking at this as a physician and as chief
medical executive for the state, I felt it's important we try to get some
information on the type of symptoms and concerns people have,” said
I'm glad they're doing something,” said John
Klein, a neighbor of one of the dairy operations south of Hudson
in Hillsdale County.
“It's not just an occasional odor,”
Klein said. When the wind brings emissions from the nearby Vreba-Hoff
dairy on U.S. 127 to his home, Klein said, it makes him physically ill.
“For the last two weeks I couldn't open the
windows without feeling headaches and getting sick,” Klein said.
“The headaches are a reality. You open the window and it hits you,”
he said. “Most people get up in the morning and look to see if its
raining. I look to see which way the wind is blowing.”
Klein, a leader in a local environmental group [ECCSCM]
formed in response to development of the dairy operations, said he and
others in the area have complained about a variety of symptoms for years.
Because the source of the emissions is farms rather than industrial plants,
he said, the state government has taken little notice.
Seinko said the growing volume of complaints from
people in the area helped convince him that more information is needed
to understand what is happening.
June, 2006 - Monitoring in progress--Dissolved Oxygen levels
plummet downstream from Vreba-Hoff.
- New Flevo CAFO must pay $42,000 in fines and costs,
and must cease land application of manure in winter, as part of settlement
of lawsuit after multiple manure discharges. See DEQ
press release for more details.
April 19, 2006 - After 6 years, it's the same polluted air,
the same degradation and contamination of water -- after 6 years! Where's
the backbone, where's the will to clean up? or shut CAFOs down if they
can't clean up? Today, with massive manure applications, the pumping
of multi-million-gallon waste pits, there's stench from Bakerlads draglining, east of facility; stench from Hoffland application
at two locations, also Bruinsma. Winds are carrying stench
from facilities as well: State Line Farms cited by DEQ
for emissions yesterday, and reported again today; stench west of Vreba-Hoff 2 along Elm Rd. Intense emissions from Vreba-Hoff
1 along Dillon Hwy -- burns eyes, sickly stench, "nauseating,"
"You can't live with this. This is hell."
Also today (see photos below) two sites draining Vreba-Hoff
1 on Dillon Hwy tested extremely low (3.6mg/L)
for Dissolved Oxygen, a serious violation of Michigan's water standard,
which is 5.0mg/L or higher for DO. The water at another site on Elm Rd
just west of Vreba-Hoff 2 was covered with a floating, slick brown film.
Durfee Creek Extension (still impaired, trashed, eutrophied), DO 3.6mg/L on 4-19-06
Clarke Drain (slimed, slick with a brown film) just west of Vreba-Hoff
2 facility on 4-19-06.
March 2006 - red water at Vreba-Hoff stream. What is it?
South Medina Drain, a stream listed as "impaired" in 2004 after
multiple manure discharges from Vreba-Hoff, looks worse
than ever this month -- deep blood-red. See photo-sequence of this stream through many colors of contamination: red, yellow, brown,
gray, black, 2002-2006.
Letters to Editor, see
full text,Toledo Blade, March 26, on CAFO threats to
"Water is our basic beverage, not milk,
and clean water, the issue. If you are not outraged, you are not paying
attention." Gloria Green, Chairman, Natural Resources Clean Water
League of Women Voters of the Perrysburg Area
"I have documented water pollution and health problems suffered
by our most vulnerable rural citizens - the elderly, children, and
the immune-compromised - from involuntary exposure to air emissions
from CAFOs and liquid manure applications to fields. I have also observed
numerous liquid manure discharges into our streams from CAFOs since
2000." Kathy Melmoth, R.N., full-time farmer, ECCSCM volunteer
March - again, and again, with thaw and spring rains,
liquid manure flows and pollutes after application to frozen fields. When will they learn? We go through this year after year
(check it out). Liquid manure on frozen ground
will do one thing -- run off -- on the surface, or through tile inlets.
Either way, pollution flows to our streams. Email DEQ (firstname.lastname@example.org) and say, we've had enough. Michigan should prohibit
application of liquid manure to frozen ground.
3-13-06 Mericam manure water running off
field to county drain and Toad Creek after spring rain
MDA "solution" - 2 STRAW BALES !!
MDA staff wrote to ECCSCM, 3-14-06 (our emphasis): "The manure appliciation
conforms to GAAMPs. I reviewed the sites along Seeley Road. I noticed
a spot along Camden Road where puddled manure needed to be incorporated
and an open drain along Seeley Road that needed straw bales (for
runoff control) in case of a storm event." This is
the "high-tech" waste system that pollutes our air and contaminates
Feb 7, 2006 -Sierra
Club releases documentary, Living a Nightmare: Animal Factories
in Michigan, with local farmers and neighbors describing
the degradation of water and air, the damage to rural economies, and the
risk to public health.
click for more information and order form
February 1, 2006 - Michigan suit against Hoffland CAFO - formerly VanderHoff Haley Dairy - is settled (see DEQ
press release). Hoffland will pay $20,000 in fines, and must cease
land application of agricultural waste to snow or ice-covered soil when
the waste cannot be injected or incorporated. The CAFO will also be required
to install a press treatment system (liquid/solid separation) for the
"stabilization of waste produced in the cow barns."
January 16, 2006 - State Line Farms cited
again for air emisssions.
July - November, 2005 - following investigation of numerous
air quality complaints over several months, DEQ cites State Line
Farms for violation of the federal Clean Air Act and Michigan
air pollution law (Rule 901 - "A person shall not cause or permit
the emission of an air contaminant in quantities that cause injurious
effect to human health, property, or the unreasonable interference with
the comfortable enjoyment of life and property"). 9 inspections
between July and November found "strong" or "very strong"
odors, burning sensation in the nose, "objectionable hog waste odors,"
etc. State Line must report by Jan 6, 2006 on the causes
of the violations and on remedial action taken to prevent reoccurence
of emissions. State Line refused to accept Letter of
Violation sent Nov. 10, 2005. TheLetter of Violation was finally hand-delivered
on December 8, 2005.
Holidays, 2005 -
Winter Waste Application
Why is this practice - CAFO dumping - still legal
It's started again, a foul winter ritual - the spraying of liquid manure
from CAFOs on snow and frozen ground. This practice is "not recommended"
in Michigan's Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs). But
there's no penalty for doing it. Why not? With the first rain or first
thaw, the waste flows off fields into streams.
Manure can't fertilize crops when there is no crop; it can't reach soils
when the ground is covered with snow. Spraying on snow and frozen
ground serves one purpose only -- waste disposal. Dumping. It's free to
CAFOs. It's costly and hazardous to the rest of us.
High bacteria counts downstream from manure-fields
Through November this year, CAFOs sprayed liquid waste on fields
(see list of applications, stench alerts). On
Thanksgiving, we had snowfall, then a few days later, 1.55 inches of rain.
Water samples downstream from manure-fields tested extremely high for E. coli bacteria, some sites more than 50 times the allowable
level of 1,000/100 ml:
Tributary to Fisher Lake, 11-29-05, downstream from Vreba-Hoff - E. coli 22,000/100 ml
Wallace Drain to Hazen Creek, 11-29-05, downstream from New Flevo - E. coli 48,000/100 ml
Durfee Creek, 11-21-05, downstream from Vreba-Hoff - E. coli Too Numerous To Count
Durfee Creek, November 2005. This stream is already on Michigan's list
of "impaired" waters, after multiple manure discharges from Vreba-Hoff CAFO.
June 20 - Vreba-Hoff discharges manure AGAIN, into South Medina Drain, which was placed on
Michigan's "impaired waters" list last year because of previous
contamination from Vreba-Hoff. Black manure water is discharging
through field tiles, after pivot-irrigation of liquid manure on growing
crop. ECCSCM volunteer called DEQ hotline; DEQ took water samples. Dissolved Oxygen is 0.5 mg/L, well below fish-kill level.
North Medina Drain is clear, South Medina Drain is grossly discolored,
smells of manure. V-H resumed pivot irrigation in same location
in late afternoon. ECCSCM took water samples for E. coli.
June 23 - E. coli test results: 22,000/100ml on June 20; 32,000/100ml on June 21.
manure water in South Medina Drain on June 20, 2005; water samples,
1 from North Medina Dr, 2 from South Medina Drain.
Vreba-Hoff pivot-spraying liquid manure near Ingall Hwy, June 20,
2005 - black water flows through tiles to South Medina Drain in Bean/Tiffin
June 13 - DEQ, MDA documents reveal
months of inaction on CAFO air violations (summary below)
Chronology of Neglect - One CAFO's
Bad Air - Winter 2004 to June 2005
(details from DEQ,MDA
documents FOIAed by ECCSCM)
DEQ and MDA documents reveal a sad story of jurisdictional confusion
over CAFO air emissions, leaving neighbors stuck in stench-- the
sickness of pig stink-- for a year and a half. People called MDA,
they called DEQ; nobody knew who was in charge, including the agencies.
The consequence? -- inaction, and prolonged suffering of neighbors
in an agricultural community.
Since the expansion of a swine CAFO near Morenci
in Winter 2004 -- construction which was completed without using
MDA's Siting guidelines -- neighbors have pleaded for help from
MDA, DEQ, their local officials, Sen. Cameron Brown, and even Governor
Granholm. The CAFO was built too close, much too close, to neighbors.
Finally, in a letter to the CAFO on June 13, MDA said so: "this
facility does not meet the setback requirements of the Site Selection
So, now what? Well, of course, now it's there.
In the neighbors' faces. One neighbor, who's lived in her farmhouse
for 50 years, wrote last year to Gov. Granholm, "It is a terrible
situation-- the odor from the hogs is nauseating. We have tried
to get the Mich. Dept. of Ag to help -- they do nothing." Another
letter, to Sen. Brown this February, said, "I don't deserve
to be driven from my home."
During the last year, DEQ received at least 18
air complaints about the CAFO, investigated them, and often found
emissions "distinct and objectionable." MDA also received
several calls. MDA, interestingly, found no problem, not once, barely
a "whiff," one reported, complaints "not verified."
This February, DEQ prepared a Letter of Violation
to the CAFO citing multiple violations of the federal Clean Air
Act as well as Michigan's Natural Resources and Environmental Protection
Act, Rule 901. The letter, however, was never sent. Although the
letter cited 9 complaints and 7 follow-up inspections in Oct, Nov,
Dec 2004 and Feb 2005, all documenting "distinct, definite
and often objectionable odors," MDA stepped in at the last
minute, argued a new process required a hard-copy referral to DEQ,
not just email, etc., etc., claimed jurisdiction over air emissions,
and then -- did nothing.
Since February, MDA has taken no action. They
waited and waited, told complainants the GAAMPs were voluntary,
sent information to the CAFO about complying, retroactively, and
then waited some more. When the CAFO finally submitted details about
its facility, MDA wrote the June 13 letter and recommended biofilters
as a "variance" to the setback requirements. The biofilters
aren't a requirement. MDA simply reminded the CAFO: "in order
for MDA to accept the proposed OMP [Odor Management Plan] for this
new swine production facility, odor control biofilters or equivalent
odor reduction technologies must be properly installed."
How much longer will the neighbors have to wait
for clean air? A long long time, if the CAFO ignores MDA's suggestion.
As it can. As it has. MDA has no clout -- they have guidelines, voluntary guidelines. MDA has no rules, no air monitoring
equipment, no protocol for responding to health concerns.
How bad is it? Residents report headaches, nausea, the inability
to go outside; one neighbor without air conditioning described stench
so bad he had to shut the windows in terrible summer heat. One DEQ
investigator driving by the CAFO with his asthmatic son had to leave
the scene when the son required his inhaler. Healthy neighbors,
but especially children and the elderly, vulnerable populations,
continue to suffer the consequences of Michigan's squabbling agencies
and the CAFOs' relentless emissions.
It is wrong, a violation
of our deepest values, for us to turn away from the weakest and
their suffering, for us to dismiss them, turn them back into their
houses -- while we give the strongest, the most negligent, a free
pass to foul the air.
April - MSU report details DNA study of Cryptosporidium,
a pathogen that can cause serious diarrhea and sometimes death, which
was found at extremely high levels in water samples from Rice Lake Drain
at Haley Rd, a River Raisin tributary, immediately downstream from Hoffland
(formerly VanderHoff Haley) Dairy CAFO. Tests showed an average
concentration of 10,866 oocysts/100L, with a high of 49,900 on
Dec. 6, 2004. A sample on Dec. 6 showed infectivity in
cell culture. DNA testing found "the Cryptosporidium sequence from the white tile into Rice Lake drain collected on 12/7/04
has the closest relationship to sequences of the bovine genotype" (see
more on MSU findings)
April 18 - Sierra Club releases
report on 66 Michigan CAFOs in 15 counties. ECCSCM member and Sierra Club
Water Sentinel Lynn Henning documented proximity of CAFOs to drains, streams,
wetlands, and connections to tile risers, catch basins -- all potential
pathways of CAFO pollution. See final
report and also spreadsheet
with details on each facility.
- all CAFOs applying liquid manure. Air emissions, stench downwind is
pivot irrigating liquid manure, New Flevo CAFO, 4-14-05
Feb. 18, 2005 - DEQ disapproves Vreba-Hoff's
draft plan for wastewater treatment, saying it falls "far short"
of what is required under the 2004 Consent Order. DEQ cites numerous insufficiencies,
including no seal by a professional engineer, no phosphorous treatment
as required, no transfer system description, no sand-separation component,
no piping or control details, no description of how untreated waste will
be applied, inadequate sampling parameters and plan, no quality assurance
end of Jan-early Feb - winter mess & stench - CAFOs are spraying
manure on snow & frozen ground, not a recommended practice. At the
first thaw, you can picture it - liquid manure runoff to drains and streams.
Feb. 3, 2005 - Mericam CAFO spraying on snow, on sloping field, Territorial
Michigan State University Violates Clean Water Act at Livestock
Jan. 24 - DEQ cites MSU Beef Cattle Research &
Teaching Center for illegal manure discharges leading to contamination
of the Red Cedar River. In a Notice Letter, Jan. 24, 2005, DEQ notes
a lack of proper collection and storage for silage at the CAFO, resulting
in silage leachate and contaminated stormwater at part of the MSU facility.
In another area, "manure runoff flows to a catch basin...and a tile
riser." These structures are inlets for runoff through County
Drains to the Red Cedar River. DEQ orders MSU to apply for an MPDES
permit and to prepare (finally -- why would MSU be last in environmental
protection rather than first?) a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan.