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February 12, 2014

Iowa Factory Farm Fined $10,000 for Large Waste Spill

Enforcement Comes After Coalition Issues Notice of Intent to File Clean Water Act Lawsuit

The Environmental Integrity Project, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has fined Illinois-based pork producer The Maschhoffs $10,000 for a spill of animal waste from one of its sow confinement operations in southeast Iowa. The action follows recent efforts by a coalition of community, environmental and animal welfare organizations to enforce federal environmental laws.

On Nov. 4, 2013, The Maschhoffs experienced a large spill of swine waste from its facility in Keosauqua, Iowa. According to DNR, the event resulted in the discharge of animal waste into an on-site creek that is a tributary of the Des Moines River. The spill stemmed from an obstruction in the facility’s manure management system, and followed another in late 2011.  

Shortly after the November spill, the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, through its counsel the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Humane Society of the United States notified DNR and The Maschhoffs of its intent to file a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit concerning the Keosauqua facility.

Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS said, “This penalty is not a complete answer to this operation’s environmental problems, but it will help deter future spills from this and other abusive pig confinement facilities.”

David Goodner, farming and environment organizer at Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement said, “Iowa CCI members question why any opportunity for meaningful public participation was cut out of the administrative enforcement process.”  

Tarah Heinzen, attorney for Environmental Integrity Project representing Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement said, “Factory farms using outdated waste storage systems that are prone to recurring failures and illegal discharges should have to obtain Clean Water Act permits. Nonetheless, this Consent Order shows that citizen efforts to hold both polluters and the DNR accountable are having an impact in Iowa.”

Located near a bend of the Des Moines River, The Maschhoffs’ Keosauqua facility is an industrial sow feeding operation that confines approximately 7,500 pigs and produces more than 11 million gallons of liquefied animal waste per year. The section of the Des Moines River adjoining the facility is listed in accordance with the Clean Water Act as impaired for biological pollutants. Despite hundreds of spills, Iowa DNR has never required a hog factory farm to obtain a Clean Water Act permit.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is represented by The Environmental Integrity Project, and the Humane Society of the United States is represented by David Sykes of David E. Sykes, P.C. in Fairfield Iowa and lawyers with the HSUS’ animal protection litigation section.

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