Buckeye Egg settles with EPA

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WASHINGTON – Buckeye Egg Farm, the largest commercial egg producer in Ohio, may have sold its facilities, but it is not through spending money on them.

Buckeye Egg owners agreed Feb. 23 to a comprehensive Clean Air Act settlement under which the company will spend more than $1.6 million to install controls to dramatically cut air emissions of particulate matter and ammonia.

It must make improvements at its egg-laying facilities in Croton, Marseilles, and Mount Victory, and pay an $880,598 civil penalty.

Original claims. The settlement resolves claims filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The claims alleged Buckeye failed to obtain necessary air permits for these facilities and failed to comply with an order directing it to sample its air emissions.

Preliminary air emission tests required by EPA indicated that air emissions of particulate matter were significant – more than 550 tons/year from the Croton facility, more than 700 tons/year from the Marseilles facility, and more than 600 tons/year from the Mount Victory facility.

Buckeye also reported ammonia emissions of more than 800 tons/year from its Croton facility, more than 375 tons/year from the Marseilles facility, and nearly 275 tons/year from the Mount Victory facility. Ammonia is a lung irritant.

New owner must implement. While Buckeye recently sold its three facilities to Ohio Fresh Eggs LLC, the settlement requires Buckeye to bind the purchaser to implement the environmental improvements required under the consent decree.

Buckeye remains liable for any violations.

Install systems. Under the consent decree, Buckeye must install a particulate impaction system in each of its barns at the Marseilles and Mount Victory facilities.

The systems will capture particulate matter before it is vented to the outside.

Buckeye Egg must also use enzyme additive products on the manure accumulated in the layer barns to reduce ammonia emissions by at least 50 percent.

Additional controls are required if dust or ammonia emissions are not satisfactorily reduced.

The combination of particulate and ammonia controls at these facilities is also expected to reduce substantially fly infestations, which have been a subject of repeated state and private litigation against Buckeye.

Croton improvements. The Croton facility is required by the state of Ohio to install belt battery manure handling systems at its layer barns more than the next five years.

Because of this requirement, the consent decree requires alternative controls for the Croton facility.

These include changes in bird variety and feed, which are expected to reduce both particulate matter and ammonia emissions.

The consent decree requires extensive testing of these measures.

If they are not successful, Buckeye will be required to install particulate impaction systems and other appropriate particulate matter controls for the converted barns.

The barns will also be treated with the enzyme product for ammonia control.

History. In July 2003, the state of Ohio revoked Buckeyes operating permits in the aftermath of having cited Buckeye nine times for contempt due to its continuing failure to comply with a state consent order requiring facility improvements.

Buckeye appealed the state action but lost in mid-October.

The company began closing barns on Nov. 20, and the Marseilles facility is now closed.

Under the settlement, the new purchaser, Ohio Fresh Eggs, which has now received operating permits from the state of Ohio, will be able to reopen the barns but must comply with environmental controls imposed by the consent decree.

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