Ohio pig farmer pleads guilty to pollution charges

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COLUMBUS — The owner and operator of a hog operation in Ashley, Ohio, has been fined $69,000 for allowing an unpermitted discharge from his farm into Alum Creek in central Ohio.

Environment violation

William H. Ringler, of Ashley, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of allowing an unpermitted discharge under the Clean Water Act after thousands of gallons of liquid whey leaked from a tank on the farm, flowed into Alum Creek and killed more than 36,700 fish and other small aquatic animals such as crawfish.

Ringler reportedly operates Steamtown Farm, a pig-feeding operation in both Morrow and Delaware counties.

In June 2007, a 26,000-gallon tank holding liquid whey, a dairy byproduct used as a food supplement, leaked twice in eight days, spilling thousands of gallons of the liquid whey on the ground.

The spill entered the farm’s drainage system and ended up in the Alum Creek. The presence of the whey in the creek reduced the concentration of dissolved oxygen and caused the major fish kill.

Plea agreement

The plea agreement includes a recommended sentence of six months confinement, consisting of three months imprisonment and three months of electronic monitoring.

Ringler has agreed to pay a fine of $51,750 and a restitution payment of $17,250 to Ohio EPA. Ringler already paid $11,310 to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the cost of the dead fish and aquatic animals and ODNR’s investigation.

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