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Dec 14 - DEQ files new lawsuit against Vreba-Hoff 4th lawsuit in 5 years – see DEQ press release
DEQ has filed a new lawsuit against Vreba-Hoff, alleging hundreds of new permit violations. “Once again we find ourselves having to ask the court to enforce the numerous agreements that Vreba-Hoff has failed to live up to, and enough is enough,” said DEQ Director Steve Chester. Vreba-Hoff is prohibited from irrigating treated effluent unless it meets certain concentration-based limits. Despite failing to achieve those limits, Vreba-Hoff irrigated waste at multiple locations over 128 days during the summer and fall of both 2008 and 2009.

Dec 13 - runoff from field application of Bakerlads manure leads to foamy discharge at Plank Rd, South Branch of the River Raisin.
South Branch RR
12-13-09 – foamy discharge from Bakerlads manure field, South Branch of the River Raisin.
Dissolved Oxygen level tested at 2.2 mg/L, well below fish-kill level.

Aug 11 - Bulletin: another apparent manure discharge from Chesterfield Dairy, this time in Michigan. A neighbor reports that Chesterfield "had to bring two tankers to suck out a major manure runoff at the corner of Mulberry Road and the Sand Creek Highway. Chesterfield has been spraying manure ... all day and the rain washed the manure into the nearby creek...I believe the DEQ has been called already, the police, the health department, the road commission, the MDA, probably other agencies." Another neighbor writes, "AS DUSK APPROACHED THE STILLNESS CAME WITH IT. THERE HAS BEEN NON STOP LIQUID MANURE SPRAYED, THIS IS THE THIRD WEEK IN ALL OF 120 ACRES. IT FINALLY RAINED SO HARD THAT MANURE RAN OFF THIS ROLLING GROUND INTO THE DITCH, WHICH DUMPS INTO THE NILE WITHIN 40 YRDS. CHESTERFIELD DAIRY BARRICADED A CULVERT WITH A BLOWN UP BLADDER BALL 2 HRS.LATER. HUGE VACUUMS ARE SUCKING OUT THE POOL THAT IS BUILDING UP. STILL PUDDLES OF WATER THAT LAY AROUND THE DITCH SMELL LIKE MANURE TOO. NOW EVERYONE IS GONE THE DITCH IS FILLING UP AGAIN IT LOOKS AND SMELLS HORRENDOUS NOW ITS JUST LYING THERE NO ONE AROUND TO SUCK IT OUT MY 9 YR OLD COULDN'T TAKE THE SMELL ANY MORE AND THREW UP. WE WENT HOME DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO."

Aug 4 - Blackwater in North Medina Drain, immediately downstream from Vreba-Hoff 1 fields. ECCSCM called DEQ Emergency hotline as possible discharge. At Vreba-Hoff 2 on US-127, field tile south of the facility is running gray water.
blackwater tile
blackwater from North Medina Drain at Vreba-Hoff 1, 8-4-09; graywater from field tile along US-127 at Vreba-Hoff 2, 8-4-09

July 16 -At 10 p.m., emergency responders report a manure discharge from Chesterfield Dairy, Lyons, OH just east of Morenci, to Little Bear Creek, a tributary of the River Raisin. Pollution Incident Report says "the creek is running black from the manure." On Friday, July 17 at least 3 mi. of the stream are still black with manure, the stream edges lined with dead fish.
fish kill
fish kill in Little Bear Creek, from Chesterfield manure discharge, 7-17-09

June 24 - The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the public has the right to know what CAFOs do with their millions and millions of gallons of manure. CAFOs' Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs) will now be submitted with their pollution control NPDES permits and will be available to the public, following a Sierra Club suit that argued the same information is required and is public in all other industrial and manufacturing NPDES permits.

June 24 - ECCSCM sampling for ammonia at 5 stream sites near Vreba-Hoff spray-irrigation finds 6ppm–highest level of Hach test strip–at EVERY SITE. Ambient freshwater ammonia levels are typically less than 0.1 ppm. Ammonia levels above 1 ppm can be toxic to some fish.

May 18 - Vreba-Hoff paid its $223,500 fine (see April 16 below); Vreba-Hoff still owes $180,000 in fines, due when the EarthMentor "treatment" system is certified as operating as designed. Vreba-Hoff says it's working fine, but ... why haven't they got the certification

May - Livestock found to be the main source of E. coli in Lake Huron. After years of arguments over where the disease-carrying bacteria come from -- humans, livestock or wildlife -- DNA "fingerprinting" says human sewage is only a tiny fraction of the problem. Manure from cattle and pigs far outweighs human sewage as the source of E. coli pollution in Lake Huron, says a new Canadian study, published in the March issue of the Canadian Journal of Microbiology. See article in Ottawa Citizen (May 5, 2009) or read the abstract or full scientific study, "(REP)-(PCR) analysis of Escherichia coli isolates from recreational waters of southeastern Lake Huron" in the March issue of Canadian Journal of Microbiology.

April 16 - Vreba-Hoff orderd by 30th Circuit Court to pay $223,500 in fines no later than May 18 (see entry Feb. 3 below -- Vreba-Hoff's motion for "relief" was dismissed by Judge James R. Giddings.

April 13 - Leonidas, St. Joseph County - Vreba-Hoff-developed Bustorf Dairy permit is being appealed by Society for Protecting Environmental Assets. DEQ initially denied a permit for the proposed 2260-cow dairy, then granted the permit in March. See article in Kalamazoo Gazette.

Feb 3 - update on ongoing Vreba-Hoff lawsuit: Michigan Attorney General files a motion in 30th Circuit Court for Summary Disposition, asking the court to rule that Vreba-Hoff's undisputed fines are "due and owing immediately" to the State of Michigan. Vreba-Hoff had requested "relief" from paying its $400,000+ fines until it could add more cows to produce more income. The Attorney General's brief concludes: "Perhaps what is most ironic about Vreba-Hoff's objection and requested relief is the fact that the reason for the lawsuit in the first place was because of Vreba-Hoff's inability to properly treat or otherwise control the vast amount of agricultural waste generated by over 6,000 cows. Rather than reduce or eliminate the source of the waste, Vreba-Hoff is requesting to add even more cows, with the 'hope' that the treatment system (which has failed to meet the agreed upon standards) will somehow work as originally represented sometime in the future...MDEQ has no confidence in Vreba-Hoff's projections or abilities, and merely asks compliance with the negotiated agreements." (Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, MDEQ vs. Vreba-Hoff Dairy LLC, 30th Circuit Court, Feb 3, 2009)

Feb/Mar issue of Mother Earth News publishes article on "The Hidden Link Between Factory Farms and Human Illness." This article provides links to numerous recent studies on health issues, focusing especially on antibiotic-resistant bacteria in factory-farmed meats.