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Dairy Farm Held Accountable for Polluting


 
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#1 mariaandrea

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 10:22 AM

It seems kind of hard to believe that a large dairy farm in Washington is the first to be sued and lose a case for pollution of groundwater and surrounding areas, but Gristthis morning is reporting just that.

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In a precedent-setting decision earlier this month that received scant national coverage, a federal district court judge in Washington state ordered a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation), also known as a factory farm, to monitor groundwater, drainage, and soil for illegal pollution resulting from its grossly inadequate manure management practices in violation of the Clean Water Act. This first-ever ruling holding a CAFO accountable for its pollution was a result of a lawsuit by the nonprofit Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE) against the Nelson Faria Dairy in Royal, Wash.

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The case underscores one of the major problems with CAFOs, which is the massive amount of manure they produce and the manners by which operators dispose of it, which have major environmental implications. According to the EPA, “a single dairy cow produces approximately 120 pounds of wet manure per day,” which is “equivalent to that of 20-40 people.”

In moderation, manure is a great soil fertilizer, but the sheer amount (and concentration) of untreated waste generated by CAFOs is a serious liability. When too much manure is spread out over fields for soil to properly absorb it, or when manure lagoons leak, overflow, or rupture, rain and stormwater runoff can carry the waste into groundwater and nearby waterways. This over-application or discharge of CAFO animal waste is an egregious example of nonpoint source pollution, where the source(s) is diffuse and can have a wide distribution area. Untreated animal waste is a hazard for both public health and ecosystems because it can contain harmful quantities of nutrients, pathogens, and heavy metals.

Read the full article here.

I'm not sure I would even call this a step in the right direction though. I think the right direction is to wean people off such a huge dietary reliance on the products from these farms and point them in the direction of small, sustainable, organic and relatively local farms. I say relatively, because even though there are several farms near the outskirts of my city (Seattle), places like New York City may have to go a little further afield for beef and milk. It costs more, yes, but these are things we should eat less of for health anyway, so in terms of personal finances it would be a wash. There are non-cow sources of protein and calcium that are more sustainable to raise. However, in the meantime, I am glad the farm is being held accountable for polluting and hope that this starts a trend of looking closely at CAFOs around the country and holding them all accountable. Maybe even clean up their acts. Hey, a girl's gotta have dreams. -_-

#2 tri-n-b-helpful

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 01:33 PM

Wow! I'm so much in agreement with the topic opener here, that I am stuck for words! I guess the two go hand in hand: yes we do need to use other methods to wean people off the stuff, but a situation like this creates a sort-of shockwave for people that shows them they need to make the change now instead of later.

Hey - I hope this starts a worldwide trend and that we can see some good reporting like this down this way. I think there is a need to educate the people as well at the same time.

#3 jasserEnv

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 08:49 PM

It does seem hard to believe. This tells me that the level of their pollution must have been completely egregious in nature in order that they could not get off easily. I know in many areas around where I live that sewage polluted ground water is a recurring problem that doesn't seem to ever be fixed. Hopefully, this sort of a ruling gets good coverage in the farming industry publications so that more of the irresponsible farm operators work to clean up their act

#4 rbaker_59

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 06:17 AM

The Clean Water Act was implemented for everyone to follow and all business should be held accountable, regardless of whether they are farmers or manufacturers.  The problem is there are always someone who is going to try to beat the system or find loop holes in the laws to get around them.  When businesses ignore the law or try to get away with going against them, someone pays that price, usually innocent people.  I feel the laws need to be a lot sticter.

#5 jasserEnv

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:16 AM

I am not sure if the strictness of the laws is the problem as much as the enforcement. I know that in many areas, the number of environmental inspectors is so few that companies and farms aren't being inspected routinely. This means they can be polluting simply out of ignorance in addition to playing games because they think they can get away with it. If our tax dollars were actually directed to pay for enough inspectors, I believe that in many cases, we could save both the environmental degradation and the costs of cleanup that now often carried by the public.

#6 rbaker_59

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 01:33 PM

View PostjasserEnv, on 20 March 2012 - 11:16 AM, said:

I am not sure if the strictness of the laws is the problem as much as the enforcement. I know that in many areas, the number of environmental inspectors is so few that companies and farms aren't being inspected routinely. This means they can be polluting simply out of ignorance in addition to playing games because they think they can get away with it. If our tax dollars were actually directed to pay for enough inspectors, I believe that in many cases, we could save both the environmental degradation and the costs of cleanup that now often carried by the public.

I agree with you.  Our tax dollars are really not being spent to the benefit of the whole.  We really have never had enough inspectors and  alot of times, businesses know about when they will be inspected and take time to hide issues so they won't get caught.  It really is a flawed system.

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