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What Now Brown Cow?

Posted by feww on January 17, 2015

Manure pollution poses ‘imminent and substantial endangerment’ to the environment, people: Federal Judge

U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice of Spokane has ruled that a large industrial dairy in eastern Washington has polluted drinking water through its handling of manure, said a report.

The judge ruled that the pollution posed an “imminent and substantial endangerment” to the environment and to people who rely on groundwater for drinking.

Rice ruled that he “could come to no other conclusion than that the Dairy’s operations are contributing to the high levels of nitrate that are currently contaminating—and will continue to contaminate … the underlying groundwater.”

“Any attempt to diminish the Dairy’s contribution to the nitrate contamination is disingenuous, at best,” said Rice in his opinion, entering  a partial summary judgment against the mega dairy, Cow Palace.

The dairy has 11,000 cows that create more than 100 million gallons of manure each year, said the judge in summing up.

The civil lawsuit was filed by environmental groups on behalf of more than 24,000 residents in the lower Yakima Valley who rely on private wells for their drinking water. “The valley is a heavily agricultural area located about 150 miles east of Seattle.”

“A trial has been scheduled for March 23 in Yakima to decide how much pollution the Cow Palace dairy of Granger was causing and what steps should be taken as a remedy.” said the report.

For the first time a federal court has ruled that inadequately handled  manure is a solid waste, and not a beneficial farm product, said Jessica Culpepper—an attorney for Public Justice, who helped represent the environmental groups.

“This is also the first time that the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs the disposal of solid and hazardous waste, was applied to farm animals,” she said. “Those standards can now be applied across the nation.”

“Rice’s ruling criticized the Cow Palace and its owners, Bill and Adam Dolsen, saying they appeared to minimize the dangers posed by nitrates, including ‘Blue Baby Syndrome,’ a condition that can result when babies consume formula mixed with nitrate-contaminated water.”

Read full report

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