Missouri pork farms settle violations

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Premium Standard Farms and Continental Grain Company entered into a settlement to resolve environmental violations at the companies’ large-scale farms in Missouri.

The settlement was reached with the United States and the Citizens Legal Environmental Action Network, a citizens group, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Justice Department.

The two companies comprise the second largest producer of hogs in the United States.

According to the consent decree, which was lodged Nov. 29 in the Western District of Missouri in Kansas City, Premium Standard Farms and Continental have agreed to pay a $350,000 civil penalty (besides $650,000 previously paid to the state of Missouri), and spend, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, as much as $50 million to develop and install cleaner wastewater treatment technologies never before used in large-scale farm operations.

The two companies’ operations in Missouri consist of more than 1,000 hog barns, 163 animal waste lagoons and 1.25 million pigs primarily located on 21 large-scale farms in five counties.

The settlement will produce significant reduction of odor and air pollutants from their facilities and prevent spills of animal wastes in local rivers and streams.

The decree requires Premium Standard Farms and Continental to develop and install wastewater treatment technologies for concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, that will reduce the toxicity of the animal wastes produced and the overall emissions of air pollutants.

In addition, the two companies have agreed to reduce by at least 50 percent the nitrogen content of waste at the larger Class 1A CAFO farms before it is land applied, and to substantially reduce ammonia emissions. The decree requires the companies to calculate and report on emissions from its large barns and lagoons, and to apply to Missouri for any necessary Clean Air Act permits.

Under the decree, defendants will compile data on their current facilities’ operations before and after technological improvements have been made.

The federal decree complements a prior consent judgment negotiated by the state of Missouri, Premium Standard Farms and Continental that requires defendants to spend up to $25 million to develop “Next Generation Technology.”

The companies also will be required to comply with new farm management practices designed to prevent future discharges and minimize the negative impact of the facilities on local residents.

Furthermore, the companies have agreed to fund a $300,000 supplemental environmental project to reduce air emissions and odors from swine barns.

The agreement resolves claims that Premium Standard Farms and Continental violated numerous requirements of the Clean Water Act, which prohibits discharges of pollutants into waters of the United States without authorization by a permit.

The settlement also resolves potential claims under the Clean Air Act and other laws addressing violations of limits on air emissions and permit and reporting requirements.

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