Sunday, April 05, 2009

Manure Spill Shows Hazards of Factory Farms

From Iowa CCI...

Des Moines, Iowa, April 4, 2009 - Yet another manure spill has reached our waterways at the hands of factory farm operator Lawrence Handlos, when last night, approximately 2,000 gallons of manure spilled into Indian Creek after a line ruptured while emptying the manure pits. Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) are outraged by this irresponsible behavior and contamination of Iowa's waters.

While the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has congratulated the factory farm crew for pumping most of the manure back out of the creek - requiring them to land-apply approximately 500,000 gallons of contaminated water - they failed to recognize that this is not the first time Lawrence Handlos has had a manure spill.

In fact, Handlos was previously ordered to pay a fine of $50,000 by the Attorney General's office after spilling over 7,000 gallons of manure into the East Branch of the West Nishnabotna, failing to submit manure management plans for his site, at one point applying over 700,000 gallons of manure at once, and failing to obtain construction permits after expanding his factory farm facilities.

"Handlos has degraded our environment repeatedly in the past and this is just one more example," said CCI organizer Sonia Skidmore. "Factory farms pose a risk to our water quality, because even small mistakes or equipment failure can result in thousands of gallons of manure pollution. This is why factory farms should be required to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) water discharge permits - especially those that have already had multiple manure spills, such as Lawrence Handlos."
This is another example of why there needs to be local control of hog confinements in Iowa. However, leaders at the Statehouse refuse to debate the bill. To top it off, a bill is moving through the legislature that would allow polluters like Handlos to apply manure on frozen ground that would then run off into Iowa's streams and rivers when the ground freezes.

Now is the time for Iowa to make a commitment to cleaning up our rivers and streams. A diary posted at Bleeding Heartland earlier this week told about Iowa having 42 out of the 150 waterways that create the Gulf of Mexico's 'Dead Zone'.
The USGS identified "the top 150 polluting watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin that cause the annual 8,000 square-mile 'Dead Zone' in the Gulf of Mexico" and found that 42 of those watersheds are in Iowa.
Cleaning up our waterways would be an boost to Iowa's economy. By increasing recreational opportunities and protecting Iowa's natural resources, more young Iowa's would be attracted to stay in the state. Iowa has invested in a great bike trail system throughout the state. Now it is time to clean up our waterways.

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