Feedlot Faces EPA Actionby Dave Wilkins
Capital Press, December 15, 2006
Fines could be levied for Snake River waste discharge
An Idaho cattle operation faces federal fines for allegedly discharging feedlot wastewater into an irrigation canal and the Snake River.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint against Bruneau Cattle Co. for unauthorized discharges by a confined animal feeding operation, the agency announced Dec. 8.
An EPA inspection of the feedlot in early February showed clear evidence of several discharges of wastewater directly from cattle pens to the South Side Canal, which drains into the Snake River, EPA regional administrator Elin Miller said.
The C.J. Strike Reservoir, a popular site for boating, fishing and camping, is only a short distance downstream.
"This is an especially important case since the discharge was immediately upstream of a public campground," Miller said in a statement. "Feedlots have a responsibility to protect water quality and downstream water users."
Owners of the feedlot could face fines of up to $11,000 per day of violation.
The company has 30 days to respond to the complaint and will have an opportunity for a hearing if the owners and EPA are unable to reach a settlement, the agency said.
The EPA action sends "a clear message that less responsible feedlots won't enjoy a competitive advantage over those who do the right thing," Miller said.
Bruneau Cattle Co. has a capacity for about 7,000 head of cattle. There were about 4,000 head in the feedlot when the EPA inspection was conducted on Feb. 8.
Inspectors found that the facility lacked a wastewater containment system to prevent wastewater runoff from cattle pens, EPA officials said.
"We look forward to working closely with the Idaho Department of Agriculture to ensure that feedlot owners comply with regulations that protect the state's rivers, lakes and streams for all Idahoans," Miller said.
EPA officials announced in July 2005 that the agency would resume inspection of Idaho beef cattle operations because the Idaho State Department of Agriculture had been deficient in its inspection and enforcement program.
The ISDA had been conducting inspections for several years under a memorandum of understanding with EPA, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Idaho Cattle Association.
State and federal officials have continued to discuss ways in which environmental compliance of Idaho beef cattle feedlots can be improved.
A routine state inspection of a beef feedlot near Oakley, Idaho, in May 2005 resulted in several notices of violations against Double C Farms.
ISDA and IDEQ inspectors found irrigation wells in which the operators had allegedly injected surface and run-off water into groundwater.
The ISDA handles all inspections on Idaho dairies under an MOU that has earned high marks from EPA.
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