Appendix A: Stone/Watson CAFO

Counties DO Have A Say About CAFO’s

This is the introduction to the Stone/Watson 99 county effort to help County Supervisors find ways in which they can have a say about CAFO’s or confinements.

If you wish to read the presentation in its entirety, google ‘Stone Watson Cafo’ and click the link. The actual link to the material is: http://civandinc.com/Stone-Watson%20CAFO%202007.htm

This perspective addresses the interface between industrial poisons and the public. It identifies existing protocols the County can use, and asks for support in changing laws. It asks for a moratorium on CAFO’s and an Environmental Impact Statement on their operation. This perspective also shows how the County can enforce existing federal and state laws that should protect the public from industrial poisons. It offers counties suggestions as to how that might be done.

This perspective points out that industrial confinements and wastewater technology are the same technology. That becomes obvious in three ways: by description, by the inherent poisonous by-products, and through Iowa Code 64.3.

This perspective gives the County several advantages. By only addressing the interface between industrial poisons and the public, the County wouldn’t get bogged down in the usual CAFO arguments about animals, private property, and models of agriculture. The County wouldn’t have to involve emotions. The County wouldn’t have to define what an animal is, or defend how to treat them. The County would simply address the technology’s inherent industrial poisons, their effects on people, and show how and why people can be protected from those poisons.

Confinements use wastewater technology that has been transferred from the highly regulated wastewater industry into the unregulated area of agriculture. There is a reason that technology was and is highly regulated in the wastewater industry. We know that the inherent products of that technology kill and cause diseases in people. All confinements, regardless of size, use the same technology, are inherently poisonous, and constantly pollute the immediate neighborhood and the larger environment. Size distinctions are arbitrary and meaningless from this perspective.

Confinements and sewers are both closed spaces. Both have untreated fecal waste in them. That untreated waste constantly produces the poison gasses hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia. The diseases and causes of death from those gasses are the same in sewers and confinements. A difference is that sewers are designed to keep those poison gasses in, and confinements, literally turning sewers on their head, are designed to constantly blow those poison gasses into the surrounding neighborhoods. Confinements must ventilate the poison gasses; otherwise all people and animals inside would die. Sewers are regulated to protect both workers and the public, while confinements, with the same industrial pollutants and poisons, are not regulated in the same ways, thereby subjecting workers and the public to those industrial poisons.

It is ludicrous to think that industrial poisons that kill and make people sick in the wastewater industry will not kill and make people sick if the system is defined as agriculture. People need to be protected from these poisons – whatever their source.

We believe existing laws should be enforced. Counties already have the authority to enforce existing state and federal laws, if the counties choose to do so. Any enforcement action would be up to the county attorney, with the direction or concurrence of the board of supervisors.

There are different levels of buy-in. The first four items require nothing but some effort on the part of the County Boards. Out of the 99 counties, there will be many different levels of comfort and commitment. This educational effort is twofold, to get information not only to the Boards but also to the public. Right now, many Boards feel helpless and believe they can’t do anything about confinements. The Boards and the public are finding out that is not really the case.

Bob Watson

Larry Stone

Overview and Explanation

This is an overview of what the County Supervisor Boards in Iowa could do. Northeast Iowa has the added worry of karst, but most of this will apply to the whole state.

What Supervisors could do:

1. It is the County Supervisors’ right, even when a confinement has enough matrix points and even when the DNR grants a permit, to protest that permit in front of the Environmental Protection Commission. Supervisors simply tell the Commission the reasons they feel a particular confinement, which may pass all the present legal requirements, isn’t a good idea and ask the Commission to deny the permit using the Commission’s power under the Agency Discretionary Rules.

2. In 2002, SF 2293 repealed the section in 455B which had, in part, to do with separation distance between confinements and sinkholes. A new provision for “secondary containment structures” allowed building confinements within the original 1000 foot minimum distance away from sinkholes. That new language is found in 459. The Supervisors could ask that the new language be repealed. By repealing that new language, the original separation distance would again be law and no confinements could be built within 1000′ of a sinkhole.

3. We know there is a cumulative negative effect on the air and water and human health in Iowa because of all the new confinements, the expansion of existing confinements, and new ethanol plants. The County Supervisors and the County Boards of Health in all the Iowa counties therefore should ask the State for a moratorium on any further confinement or ethanol plant building, or expansion, until a federal Environmental Impact Statement, or a similar State of Iowa study, is completed. If nothing is done, this leaves the rural areas of Iowa having an environmental experiment carried out on them with no control being exerted or allowed. This environmental experiment should require an EIS or State of Iowa equivalent.

4. Even though Iowa DNR says they can’t regulate confinements and open feed lots like they do other entities with fecal waste and poison gasses, that statement is not true. Because of a snafu by the State of Iowa when originally applying for EPA’s NPDES Permit program in the 1970’s, Iowa wasn’t enrolled in the program and had to create their own “Permit to Operate” laws, which the EPA accepted as a mirror program. Those rules, Iowa Administrative Code 567.64.3, included not only point source wastewater treatment plants, but also included CAFO’s. Under 64.3(1)h.(2) those CAFO’s cannot be excluded from regulation. Those rules are still on the books and could be used immediately to regulate CAFO’s (by a request to do so of the County to the DNR Director) as wastewater facilities thusly (but not limited to):

a: require monitoring wells around storage lagoons, concrete storage tanks, and fields being used for application.
b. testing requirements of waste for, but not limited to, nitrogen, phosphorus, E. coli, antibiotics, hormones, and other pollutants.
c. set rules for manure storage capacity.

d. set minimums for the depth to groundwater under storage facilities.

e. require tests of tile lines and adjacent streams where manure is applied.

f. impose requirements to prevent waste from running off fields.

(Iowa Code 2003: Section 455E.5 Groundwater protection policies. #3 All persons in the state have the right to have their lawful use of groundwater unimpaired by the activities of any person which render the water unsafe or unpotable. #4 All persons in the state have the duty to conduct their activities so as to prevent the release of contaminants into groundwater.)

Counties have the authority to enforce existing state and federal laws which address the interface between industrial poisons and the public, if the counties choose to do so. Any enforcement action would be up to the county attorney, with the direction or concurrence of the board of supervisors. Items 5 and 6 are some of the laws which could be enforced by the county.

Iowa counties do not need to adopt an ordinance in order to enforce these laws. But, we have included the Lake County Ordinance (pdf file in this appendix) to show counties how enforcement and funding has been accomplished elsewhere.

5. To protect the public from the poison gasses being constantly discharged into the neighborhoods of confinements, the County could enforce the CERCLA provision of Superfund: Community Right to Know. Under this law, monitoring equipment, per EPA regulations, would need to be installed by the owner at each confinement site’s exhaust vents and the owner would need to contact the EPA each day that the facility discharges more than 100 lbs of ammonia and/or 100 lbs of hydrogen-sulfide into the atmosphere.

Another section of this law prohibits the pollution of a watershed from pollutants in manure. The Oklahoma Attorney General is already using this law in an action against Tyson. The County could use this section to protect neighbors and the watershed from pollution from manure. See number 6 below (64.3) to see how testing could be done to see whether pollution goes from a confinement property to adjacent properties and/or the larger watershed.

6. To protect the public from the poison gasses inside and outside confinements, Counties could enforce the federal “Confined Spaces Regulations”. These laws can be enforced by OSHA through their “General Duty Clause”. This clause comes into effect if a serious hazard is identified. We know that over 20 Iowans have been killed from poison gasses in confinements, and that many studies show serious health effects to people from the emission of those poison gasses. A recent study from the U. of Iowa shows 55.8% of children on farms with confinements have asthma. These “recognized hazards” trigger OSHA’s “general duty clause” and allow OSHA to regulate these confinements. We are asking the Counties to enforce OSHA’s Confined Spaces Regulations and General Duty Clause. It seems reasonable when all of the wastewater facilities and sewer systems in Iowa are already regulated under these laws.

In this package, we also include documents about:

1. “Air problems from ethanol” gives you the information from the Iowa DNR on what pollutants to expect from ethanol plants.

2. “Rural Schools, Confinements and Poison Gasses” tells about poison gasses and their effects on the rural population from confinements which already exist, and what rural schools need to do in order for their students to have air free from poison gasses inside their schools.
3. “Urban Partners” is a version of a request to get cities to share in what rural people must live with when poison sewer gasses are constantly blown into their neighborhoods by confinements.
4. “Loss of separation distance and public safety” tells how the law was changed to eliminate the separation distance between confinements and sinkholes. This change has allowed confinements to be built in karst where they otherwise would not have been allowed.
5. “ias6 – Stressing Iowa’s Environment” and the jpeg pictures is a discussion of the whole problem of confinements from the perspective of wastewater technology being transferred from the regulated environment where it matured to the unregulated environment of agriculture.
6. We also include medical studies done on the health of Iowa’s rural population taking into account their proximity to confinements. Also included is an industrial agriculture primer, an explanation of an EIS, and three documents about chapter Iowa Administrative Code 567.64.3.
This information only reinforces the need for action on your part to safeguard the health of your constituents and the environment.
Bob Watson
bobandlinda@civandinc.net

Larry Stone
lstone@alpinecom.net

Industrial Confinements: a primer.

Recognizing the larger ecological problem being that we have adopted industrial technologies for agricultural use, it is a shame that petro-chemical/industrial agriculture is portrayed by corporate agricultural entities and some politicians as nothing more than what farming has always been. Any defense of industrial agriculture, based on the notion that this is how agriculture has always operated in the past, is rendered moot because industrial processes, new to agriculture and never intended for use outside of strict regulation, have only recently been adopted for use in the unregulated area of agriculture.

In today’s confinements, versus farms of 50 years ago, we see diseases and deaths to both animals and humans because we are no longer dealing with composted manure spread to fertilize the soil, but are instead dealing with a poison liquid which has been made toxic through cooking for months in a tank, lagoon or pit. The poison gases hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia are constantly generated from this untreated fecal waste and are continuously blown into the air of the neighborhood from the inside of the confinement building. We have people working in a hazardous workplace ignorant of the dangers because agriculture has been, by law, exempted from the regulations which would educate and protect them. People in the neighborhoods of confinements are in a similar situation as they are repeatedly told this is only a nuisance and they do not have the protections from these poisons afforded all other citizens where similar circumstances exist.

This is an important argument in that it gives a structure to understand generally all the particular community problems when a confinement moves into the neighborhood. It becomes not an argument about farming, but about industrial processes and their resultant poisons and how the community is affected by them.

Pork industry representatives seem to have a reality disconnect. All international, national and state health regulatory agencies – World Health Organization, Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Health and Safety Administration to name some – know that hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia are dangerous to people. The science is settled on this issue, and we have understood the toxicology of those gasses since the 1950’s. In fact, it is an irony that one of the first studies to set an 8 hour limit for human exposure to ammonia was a 1960 OSHA study done on pigs.

“Proximity of children to confinements” studies done since 2004 show even more alarming results. Iowa’s overall rate of asthma is about 6.7%. To generalize, it has been found that if a rural school has a confinement within 10 miles, 11.7% of the children have asthma – twice the state rate. If a confinement is ½ mile away from a school, 24.6% of children have asthma – four times the state rate. And if you are a kid unlucky enough to live on a farm with a confinement, there is a 55.8% chance you will have asthma – nine times the state rate. (University of Iowa’s Dr. Joel Klinehttp://www.chestjournal.org/cgi/content/full/129/6/1486 proximity to rural schools, James Merchant of the University of Iowa on asthma in children who live on a farm with a confinement http://www.ehponline.org/members/2004/7240/7240.pdf )

We have been raising pigs for between 7000 and 9000 years. We know how to raise animals in a manner benign to human health and the environment. It is unconscionable to do it otherwise. But, we seem to live in a State where even though we know it is immoral to poison our neighbors, it is not illegal.

Agency Discretionary Rule Use

The following will explain how to use the Agency Discretionary Rule, the first of the six items Larry Stone and I talk about.

Rich Leopold, the new Director of the DNR, has let it be known both inside and outside the DNR that he will rarely use what in the press and public has been known as the Director’s Discretionary Rule, but is really the Agency Discretionary Rule. When I contacted Rich Leopold and told him I was going to write about this issue he emailed me this language to use to explain his position: “I will use it as appropriate. But I will not be quick to use it. The burden of evidence needs to be such that we (the DNR) could defend our decision in court if necessary. This sets the bar high, but does not mean that the rule will not be considered and used when necessary.” To me that is unfortunate because the public has the perception that the rule was put in place to be used more widely.

There is good news though. The rule still does exist and can still be used to protest those CAFO’s that do not fall under regular DNR rules but pose risks to people and the environment. After an email conversation with a member of the Environmental Protection Commission, this member laid out why the rule can be used and how to get a protested CAFO permit in front of the EPC to ask them to use the rule. Here is the EPC member’s language and direction:

“Remember it’s the Agency Discretion Rule which means the EPC can invoke the rule itself. That would occur when the commission hears a county appeal. The county would need to request the EPC to use its discretionary authority under the rule, as well as citing any other reasons to deny the permit and then it would be up to the commission. If the county believes that it should appeal the granting of a permit it should do so. The commission will hear the arguments and make its own decisions. It’s not bound by any decision of the DNR director or staff. It takes those positions into account as well as other views including the county’s. The final authority in the agency is with the EPC.”

So, it is the County Supervisors’ right, even when a confinement has enough matrix points and even when the DNR grants a permit, to protest that permit in front of the Environmental Protection Commission. They simply tell the Commission the reasons they feel a particular confinement, which may pass all the present legal requirements, isn’t a good idea and ask the Commission to deny the permit using the Commissions’ power under the Agency Discretionary Rules. Much of the Agency Discretionary Rules were written with karst in mind.

So, if your county wants to appeal a permit, they need only appeal it to the EPC, request the EPC use the rule and provide the county’s reason(s) for denying the permit.

Public Safety (1-1-06)
(loss of separation distance)

In Iowa law there is supposed to be a 1000 foot separation distance between sinkholes and confinements in NE Iowa’s karst topography. That separation distance gives the public some assurance that their public water supply, aquifers, will not be subject to a pollution event from an industrial agricultural confinement. Not so anymore. Because there are so many places a proposed new confinement would be within 1000 feet of a sinkhole, and therefore not allowed, the pork producers asked our local legislators, Chuck Gipp and Mark Zieman, to change the law. In 2002 they did. SF 2293 repealed the section in 455B which had, in part, to do with separation distance from sinkholes. A new provision for “secondary containment structures” allowed building confinements within the 1000 foot minimum and that new language is, I think, found in 459.

When confinements started being put in next to sinkholes, we asked the DNR how that could be when there was supposed to be a 1000 foot separation. The DNR held an upper level management meeting where this was discussed. At that meeting the DNR lawyers said that because of the way the new law, a variance granted for the 1000 foot minimum if a “secondary containment structure” was put in place, was written, there was “effectively no longer any separation distance between sinkholes and confinements”. A confinement could now be built right next to a sinkhole. Oddly, no one at that DNR meeting seemed to think they might want to look into how or why this change to the safety of the public’s water supply happened.

The concept of “secondary containment” comes from the EPA’s regulation of the petroleum industry. It originally meant an earthen berm 360 degrees around a set of above ground tanks capable of holding 150% of the largest tank. In karst, for confinements with underground tanks, “secondary containment” means a pit dug on one side of the building big enough to hold 50% of the manure. How this ground level pit is supposed to contain a leak from an underground tank is unknown. How any spill is supposed to happen on only that one side of the building is unknown. And, how something illegal in karst for manure storage because of sinkholes, namely an earthen structure (the pit), allows you to build right next to a sinkhole in karst is also unknown.

We are in real danger when our legislators are unable to understand the effects of laws they pass. And when they, and our regulatory officials, are apprised of those effects and are unwilling to reinsert the provisions which protect the public, we are courting disaster.

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet
Ohio State University Fact Sheet
Community Development
700 Ackerman Road, Suite 235, Columbus, OH 43202-1578
Environmental Impact Statements
CDFS-188

Joe E. Heimlich
Mitchell Smith

Whenever projects or programs are planned, there are potential impacts upon the environment. When these proposed projects are federally funded, such impacts become important to the public. What these impacts may be and the magnitudeoftheir effectare reported in Environmental Impact Statements. This fact sheet addresses both the purpose and the limitations of these written public documents.
Environmental Impact Statements

Environmental impact statements are reports that outline the predicted environmental effects of a particular action or project in which the federal government is involved. These statements are often important in environmental regulation and litigation. Environmental impact statements of a necessary or projected activity highlight the significant environmental ramifications of a project, describing alternative actions which also must include no action being taken.

Environmental impact statements are required by Section 102(2) (C) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (PL91-190) which requires federal agencies to consider the probable environmental effects of projects and programs under their control. The Act also established the Council on Environmental Quality. This three-member board advises the President on environmental matters and reviews federal programs in terms of the country’s environmental policies. In 1971, the Council established procedural and content guidelines for environmental impact statements. The most significant revisions comprise the 1978 guidelines, which are essentially what is in use today.
Contents of an Environmental Impact Statement

An environmental impact statement for a proposed project outlines in detail the proposed actions, alternative actions(including no action), and their probable environmental ramifications. The environmental impact statement must coverall plausible bases, which are generally determined by the rule of reason. If a “reasonable person” would consider an activity sufficiently significant to warrant further discussion, it should be included in the environmental impact statement. The environmental impact statement must also give information on the probable impact of alternative actions outside the jurisdiction of the responsible agency.

Although requirements differ between situations, the environmental impact statement must discuss the total impact on the environment (see Figure 1). According to the Council on Environmental Quality guidelines, it should consider:

* direct and indirect effects of the project
* interference with other activities
* energy and resource requirements
* conservation and reparation potential
* preservation of urban, historic and cultural quality
* ways to minimize damage

National Environmental Policy Act, PL 91-190

Section 102 (2) (C)

The Congress authorizes and directs that, to the fullest extent possible, all agencies of the federal government shall include in every recommendation or report on proposals for legislation and other major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, a detailed statement by responsible officials on:

* the environmental impact of the proposed action,
* any adverse environmental effects which cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented,
* alternatives to the proposed action,
* the relationship between local short-term uses of man’s environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity, and
* any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented.

Figure 1.
Necessity of Environmental Impact Statements

The National Environmental Policy Act requires an environmental impact statement when a project is federally controlled and is potentially environmentally significant. A project is federally controlled when it requires:

* federal licensing,
* federal funding, or
* is undertaken by the federal government.

The environmental impact is determined to be significant by examining similar prior activities and applying the rule of reason.
Preparation of Environmental Impact Statements

The assurance of completion of an environmental impact statement is the responsibility of the federal agency controlling the project. That agency is also responsible for any legal consequences of the environmental impact statement. Agencies with sufficient staff and technical expertise may prepare their own Environmental Impact Statements. This is the typical practice when the agency directly designs and implements the project itself. Federal agencies whose primary role is to provide funding to state or local agencies directing a project may require them to prepare environmental impact statements as part of their funding applications. State or local agencies may use outside consultants to prepare environmental impact statements, as well as to design and implement the project. Federal agencies with licensing power, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and EPA, often require private sector applicants to prepare environmental impact statements, which is often submitted with the license application. In all cases, the environmental impact statement becomes the responsibility of the federal agency providing the license.
Participation in the Environmental Impact Statement Process

According to the National Environmental Policy Act, Environmental Impact Statements must be made available to the public, federal, state and local authorities, the President and the Council on Environmental Quality; subsequent legislation requires that they also be filed with United States EPA. The Council on Environmental Quality guidelines require that agencies responsible for Environmental Impact Statements hold public meetings when proposed projects foster strong debate or interest. Each agency must also provide the public with information on how to participate in the environmental impact statement review process. Interested parties may contact the responsible agency to be placed on their environmental impact statement mailing list. The agency must allow adequate time for comments before a final environmental impact statement is published. The final environmental impact statement must address these comments and the agency’s responses to them.

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868

 

Asthma and Farm Exposures in a Cohort of Iowa Children – pdf format

Kline – Chest 2006 CAFOs – pdf format

Air Problems from Ethanol

(This piece contains the information I received from the Air Permit Section of the DNR in response to my question concerning this proposed ethanol plant by Turkey Valley.)

Remarks to the Winneshiek County Supervisors concerning a proposed ethanol plant by Turkey Valley School. (5-30-06)

As you may know there is a 100 million gal/year ethanol plant being proposed for just west of the Turkey Valley school and the Jackson Junction town and golf course. There will be 100’s of people downwind of this proposed facility on a daily basis.

This email is to inform you of those things which the people pushing the plant are not telling you.

From a previous encounter with a proposed ethanol plant in this county, we know the pollutants:

Carbon monoxide: An odorless, colorless gas that reduces the flow of oxygen to the bloodstream. In small amounts it can impair alertness, or cause fatigue and headaches. In large amounts it can be fatal.

Acetaldehyde: pungent, fruity odor. Cancer-causing in animals, probably in humans.

Formaldehyde: pungent suffocating odor. Cancer-causing in animals, probably in humans.

Acrolein: piercing, disagreeable odor. Toxic to upper respiratory system in animal studies.

2-furaldehyde (furfural): almond-like odor. Moderately irritating to skin, eyes and respiratory tract at industrial concentrations. Little or no long-term health information.

Acetic acid: vinegar. Unknown health effects.

Lactic acid: skin and eye irritant at industrial concentrations.

Also, I understand from industry insiders that the “A list” of places to site these plants has been used up in Iowa. Any place that is being considered as a site in Iowa now, the industry understands will be contentious, like next to Turkey Valley.

The State has no knowledge of this proposal. Neither the Des Moines central office, nor the Region 1 office in Manchester. It seems to me that much more discussion needs to take place before we allow particulates to float down out of the air for students and teachers to breathe.

The air over Iowa is already polluted from the 10,000 confinements and open feedlots that are in the state. There is so much ammonia in the air from these facilities that when it rains and the ammonia precipitates out as ammonia nitrate, we are right at the EPA threshold for that nutrient being a pollutant in our surface waters. In other words, farmers don’t need to put down ammonia fertilizer in Iowa, they just need it to rain.

If you have ever read the James Merchant study on children who live on farms with confinements and asthma http://www.ehponline.org/members/2004/7240/7240.pdf , you will know that the air in Iowa is already filled with poisons from those confinements. 55.8% of those children who live on farms in Iowa with confinements have asthma as a direct result of that confinement. Why would we want to add more pollution to Iowa’s air?

This is information I received from the DNR’s Air Permit Section:

“Not sure I can help too much without knowing anything about the size of the plant they would be proposing to build, but if the trend continues, what most plants are doing is keeping their facility out of PSD. PSD is a more rigorous permitting program that involves a lot more assessment than our normal process. The thresholds for triggering PSD are 100 tons (200,000 lbs) per year of any criteria pollutant. That means they must size the plant and install controls to keep their emissions below 100 tons each of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulates, and volatile organic compounds. Most are permitted right up to those levels so you could expect the emissions to be in that range. These are typically 50-60 million gallons of ethanol per year. Hazardous air pollutants (HAP’s) are maintained at below 10 tons of any one HAP or 25 tons total for all HAP’s. Acetaldehyde is the single largest HAP. These limits are taken to keep the facility out of the Title V permitting program and also to avoid being subject to any NESHAPS standards. The state does not otherwise regulate toxic emissions. If they decide to build a bigger plant, the emissions would naturally be more, but is dependant on the size. Emissions could be double or triple depending on size.”

This proposed plant is twice the size of what is talked about in this email, therefore its pollution will evidently be twice the stated figures.

When I queried the DNR about the larger plant emissions, I received this email in response:

“For a 100 mmgal/yr plant, one example would be Midwest Grain Processors, in Lakota, which expanded production to 100 mmgal/yr in 2004.

They still are a synthetic minor, which means they took limits to keep their particulate matter (PM- dust), nitrogen oxides (NOx) sulfur dioxide (SOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs – they’re a precursor to ozone formation) and carbon monoxide emissions below 100 tons per year for each pollutant plantwide, and below 9.4 tons per year for any single hazardous air pollutant (HAP) and 24.4 tons per year for all HAPs
combined.

Current plantwide permitted limits are 93.55 tpy PM, 47.85 tpy SOx, 61.72 tpy NOx, 79.64 tpy VOC and 93.84 tpy CO, 9.4 single HAP and 24.4 tpy total HAP.

How it breaks down on individual equipment, for example, looking only at some of the bigger emission sources;

DDGS dryer, which is controlled by a thermal oxidizer, the PM limit is 14 tpy, 23.75 tpy SOx, 34.93 tpy NOx, 15.98 tpy VOC and 35.66 tpy CO.

DDGS cooler – permitted at 13.14 tpy PM and 24.71 tpy VOC

fermentation and distillation (scrubber controlled) 4.38 tpy VOC

Natural gas boiler, 135 mmbtu/hr rating, permitted at 4.49 tpy PM, 23.65 tpy NOx, 3.25 tpy VOC and 20.70 tpy CO

Haul roads, permitted at 17.35 tpy PM

lots of smaller sources, such as grain handling, cooling towers, storage tanks, etc., which add up to plantwide totals given above.”

There is no ongoing monitoring after the facility is built. The State tests the facility once and no more. There could be violations of pollutants and no one would ever know!

Finally, I am not at all sure that so-called economic development should take precedent over children’s health.

– Dr. Robert Brown of ISU and other leading renewable fuels researchers are saying this corn based technology is not the technology we should be building anymore. The industry needs to go on to cellulose based ethanol.

– We have a history in this country of polluting until our rivers burn. Iowa air is in a sense already burning from the air pollution from the 10,000 confinements and open feedlots in the state. Our children can’t take much more.

Bob Watson

2736 Lannon Hill Rd
Decorah, IA 52101
563-382-5848
bobandlinda@oneota.net


Rural Schools, Confinements and Poison Gasses

This talk will explore the relationship between rural schools, confinements (with their constantly exhausting poison gasses), and the incidence of airborne diseases in children due to their proximity to these confinements. It will give you an understanding of the technology which creates ammonia and hydrogen-sulfide, and how you can at least protect children when they are inside your school buildings.

What follows is an important argument in that it gives a structure to understand generally all the particular community problems when a confinement moves into the neighborhood. It becomes not an argument about farming, but about industrial processes and their resultant poisons and how the community is affected by them.

Recognizing the larger ecological problem being that we have adopted industrial technologies for agricultural use, it is a shame that petro-chemical/industrial agriculture is portrayed by corporate agricultural entities and some politicians as nothing more than what farming has always been. Any defense of industrial agriculture, based on the notion that this is how agriculture has always operated in the past, is rendered moot because industrial processes, new to agriculture and never intended for use outside of strict regulation, have only recently been adopted for use in the unregulated area of agriculture. In today’s confinements, versus farms of 50 years ago, we see diseases and deaths to both animals and humans because we are no longer dealing with composted manure spread to fertilize the soil, but are instead dealing with a poison liquid which has been made toxic through cooking for months in a septic tank, lagoon or pit. The poison gases hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia are constantly generated from this untreated fecal waste and are continuously blown into the air of the neighborhood from the inside of the confinement building. We have people working in a hazardous workplace ignorant of the dangers because agriculture has been, by law, exempted from the regulations which would educate and protect them. People in the neighborhoods of confinements are in a similar situation as they are repeatedly told this is only a nuisance and they do not have the protections from these poisons afforded all other citizens where similar circumstances exist.

Confinements and city sewers have the same poison gasses and are the same technology. Confinements and sewers both are closed structures. They both have untreated fecal waste in them. That waste constantly generates the poison gases hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia in both confinements and sewers. People and animals need constant ventilation to survive in either a confinement or a sewer. The diseases and causes of deaths from those gasses are the same in sewers and confinements. Confinements and sewers are the same technology.

There are two major management differences. First, city sewers are designed to contain their poison gasses while confinements, having literally turned sewers on their head, are designed to constantly blow those poison gasses out into the surrounding neighborhood. Think of confinements as upside down sewers that exhaust their poisons so that the pigs or chickens inside can stay alive, which people in the neighborhood then have to breathe.

The second major difference is that city sewers are regulated by law, the federal “Confined Spaces Regulations”. By not regulating these gasses in agriculture there is no education and training about, and protection from, a hazardous work place; and there are no regulations protecting the public from these poisons from confinements as there are everywhere else in America where fecal waste producing hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia gases exist in a closed structure.

All international, national and state health regulatory agencies – World Health Organization, Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Health and Safety Administration to name some – know that hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia are dangerous to people. The science is settled on this issue, and we have understood the toxicology of those gasses since the 1950’s. In fact, it is an irony that one of the first studies to set an 8 hour limit for human exposure to ammonia was a 1960 OSHA study done on pigs.

Among many confinement studies over the last 30 years, a study in Utah simply looked at hospital records pre- and post-confinement introduction into a community. Those records show clearly a tripling of illnesses generally associated with exposure to hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia. These illnesses are a direct result of the constant venting by those confinements of the poison gasses hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia into the neighborhoods around those confinements, and the contamination of the neighborhoods’ sources of drinking water by those confinements.

“Proximity of children to confinements” studies (University of Iowa’s Dr. Joel Kline http://www.chestjournal.org/cgi/content/full/129/6/1486 proximity to rural schools, James Merchant of the University of Iowa on asthma in children who live on a farm with a confinement http://www.ehponline.org/members/2004/7240/7240.pdf ) done since 2004 show even more alarming results. Iowa’s overall rate of asthma is about 6.7%. To generalize, it has been found that if a rural school has a confinement within 10 miles, 11.7% of the children have asthma – nearly twice the state rate. If a confinement is ½ mile away from a school, 24.6% of children have asthma – four times the state rate. And if you are a kid unlucky enough to live on a farm with a confinement, there is a 55.8% chance you will have asthma – nine times the state rate.

We have been raising pigs for between 7000 and 9000 years. We know how to raise animals in a manner benign to human health and the environment. It is unconscionable to do it otherwise. But, we seem to live in a state where even though we know it is immoral to poison our children, it is not illegal.

So what can be done to at least protect rural school children while they are in school buildings? In speaking with a civil engineer about this problem he pointed me to Koch Filter information. Page 2 talks about “Specialized Carbon Media” for ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, http://www.kochfilter.com/pdf/detailed/d_prod_12.pdf . I have included the link so that you can give this information to a local HVAC business so that they can adapt your schools ventilation system to accept this carbon filter. In that way you will at least protect the children from poison gasses while they are inside your buildings.

Bob Watson

2736 Lannon Hill Rd
Decorah, IA 52101
563-382-5848

I own Watson Brothers, a rep firm in the wastewater industry; and I am the author of the online book, “Civilized and Inclusive” www.oneota.net/~watsoncampaign , in which chapter 6 is about agriculture.

Urban Partners

Dear Council,

We are here looking for political allies.

Two of the places in Iowa where the poison gasses ammonia and hydrogen-sulfide are constantly being produced from untreated fecal waste are city sewers and agricultural confinements. Unlike city sewers, which are designed to keep those poison gasses in the sewers thus protecting the people who live in city neighborhoods, confinements are designed to constantly blow those poison gasses into the surrounding rural neighborhoods which people then have to breathe.

All international, national and state health regulatory agencies – World Health Organization, Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Health and Safety Administration to name some – know that hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia are dangerous to people. The science is settled on this issue, and we have understood the toxicology of those gasses since the 1950’s. In fact, it is an irony that one of the first studies to set an 8 hour limit for human exposure to ammonia was a 1960 OSHA study done on pigs.

“Proximity of children to confinements” studies done since 2004 show alarming results. Iowa’s overall rate of asthma is about 6.7%. To generalize, it has been found that if a rural school has a confinement within 10 miles, 11.7% of the children have asthma – twice the state rate. If a confinement is ½ mile away from a school, 24.6% of children have asthma – four times the state rate. And if you are a kid unlucky enough to live on a farm with a confinement, there is a 55.8% chance you will have asthma – nine times the state rate. A study in Utah a number of years ago simply looked at hospital records pre- and post-confinement introduction into a community. Those records show clearly a tripling of illnesses generally associated with exposure to hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia.

These are astounding rates of asthma, 11.7%-24.6%-55.8%, and increases of other illnesses for people, especially children, in rural Iowa who are in proximity to confinements.

We are here to ask that your city residents share in this rural experience of having poison sewer gasses in their neighborhoods. You can modify your sewers to that end by simply taking the covers off your manholes, putting blowers down in the manholes, and blowing those poison sewer gasses up into your neighborhoods. In this way, because of breathing poison sewer gasses daily, we think you will quickly become allies in our quest to get confinements to quit blowing these same poison gasses into rural neighborhoods. With your help, we believe this horrendous problem can be dealt with.

Because part of what we are doing is documenting who in Iowa can and cannot have these gasses in their neighborhoods, we are making this request in writing. If you think sewer gasses in your neighborhoods might not be a good idea, or, if you think there might be some law, or other reasons, prohibiting you from blowing poison gasses into your neighborhoods, we ask that you include what those reasons might be in your written response to our request.

So, there you have our request. Either join the rural experience and blow poison gasses into your neighborhoods, or respond to this request in writing why you think you can’t or think it would not be a good idea for your city’s population to share this experience.

We thank you for your time and appreciate your written response to our request.

Lake County Ordinance – pdf format

Why and how the State can regulate CAFO’s using Iowa Code 64.3 “Permit to Operate” laws.

As for CAFOs, EPA does not “regulate them” in Iowa. Iowa is a delegated state for NPDES (Clean Water Act permitting) for CAFOs that are 1000 animal units or more (note recent federal rule change within last couple of years on how animal units are counted.) 1000 AU CAFOs must have an NPDES permit under the Clean Water Act. Anything smaller than that, even if 998 AU, is entirely subject to state regulation, if the state is so inclined. The only time EPA gets in the game is if somebody petitions EPA for de-delegation because Iowa is not properly administering the Clean Water Act.

Even though Iowa DNR says they can’t regulate CAFO’s like they do other entities with fecal waste, that is not true. Because of an early snafu by the State when originally applying for EPA’s NPDES Permit program in the 1970’s, Iowa created their own “Permit to Operate” laws which included not only point source wastewater treatment plants, but also included CAFO’s. Those laws, chapter 64.3, are still on the books and could be used to regulate CAFO’s and their poison gasses and untreated waste.

The DNR’s comment is: “Confinements are prohibited from discharging but we can require them to get a NPDES permit IF they do discharge (spill, leak, etc).” This interpretation of what the DNR can regulate is based on the assumption that the only pollution from CAFO’s is in the form of liquid manure. That assumption is in error. CAFO’s, at least in confinement form, pollute every day in the form of constantly discharging poison gasses into the surrounding neighborhood. Confinements are actually designed to constantly vent those poison gasses. If they didn’t, the animals and any people working inside the confinement would die.

Here is 64.3:

567-64.3(455B) Permit to operate.

64.3 (1) Except as provided otherwise in this subrule and in 567-Chapter 65 , no person shall operate any wastewater disposal system or part thereof without, or contrary to any condition of, an operation permit issued by the director; nor shall the permittee of a system to which a sewer extension has been made under a construction permit limited pursuant to 64.2(10), paragraph “a,” “b” or “f,” allows a connection to such sewer extension in violation of any special limitation in such construction permit. An operation permit is not required for the following: ….

h . Water pollution from agricultural and silvicultural activities, runoff from orchards, cultivated crops, pastures, rangelands, and forestlands, except that this exclusion shall not apply to the following: ….

(2) Discharges from concentrated animal feeding operations as defined in 40 CFR §122.23 (eff. 12-18-84);

Therefore, the State can regulate CAFO’s thusly:

a: require monitoring wells around storage lagoons, concrete storage tanks, and fields being used for application.

b. require testing of waste for nitrogen, phosphorus, e-coli, anti-biotics, hormones, and other pollutants.

c. set rules for manure storage capacity.

d. set minimums for the depth to groundwater under storage facilities.

e. require tests of tile lines and adjacent streams where manure is applied.

f. impose requirements to prevent waste from running off fields.

Chapter 64.3 – Permit to Operate

567-64.3(455B) Permit to operate.
64.3 (1) Except as provided otherwise in this subrule and in 567-Chapter 65 , no person shall operate any wastewater disposal system or part thereof without, or contrary to any condition of, an operation permit issued by the director; nor shall the permittee of a system to which a sewer extension has been made under a construction permit limited pursuant to 64.2(10), paragraph “a,” “b” or “f,” allows a connection to such sewer extension in violation of any special limitation in such construction permit. An operation permit is not required for the following:
a . Private sewage disposal system which does not discharge into a water of the state.
b. A semipublic sewage disposal system, the construction of which has been approved by the department and which does not discharge into a water of the state.
c. Any discharge of sewage from vessels, effluent from properly functioning marine engines, laundry, shower, and galley sink wastes, or any other discharge incidental to the normal operation of a vessel: Provided, that this exclusion shall not be construed to apply to rubbish, trash, garbage, or other such materials discharged overboard; nor to discharges when the vessel is being used in a capacity other than as a means of transportation.
d . Discharges to aquaculture projects as defined in 40 CFR §122.25 (eff. 12-18-84).
e . Discharges of dredged or fill material into navigable waters which are regulated under Section 404 of the Act.
f . Any discharge of pollutants directly to another waste disposal system for final treatment and disposal, with the exception of storm water point sources. (This exclusion from requiring an operation permit applies only to the actual addition of materials into the subsequent treatment works. Plans or agreements to make such additions in the future do not relieve dischargers of the obligation to apply for and receive permits until the discharges of pollutants to navigable waters are actually eliminated. It also should be noted that, in all appropriate cases, pretreatment standards promulgated by the administrator pursuant to Section 307(b) of the Act and adopted by reference by the commission and other pretreatment standards and requirements must be complied with.)
g . Any discharge in compliance with the instruction of an On-Scene Coordinator pursuant to 40 CFR Part 300 [The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Plan] or 33 CFR §153.10(e) [Pollution by Oil and Hazardous Substances].
h . Water pollution from agricultural and silvicultural activities, runoff from orchards, cultivated crops, pastures, rangelands, and forestlands, except that this exclusion shall not apply to the following:
(1) Discharges from concentrated aquatic animal production facilities as defined in 40 CFR §122.24 (eff. 12-18-84);
(2) Discharges from concentrated animal feeding operations as defined in 40 CFR §122.23 (eff. 12-18-84);
(3) Discharges from silvicultural point sources as defined in 40 CFR §122.27 (eff. 12-18-84);
(4) Storm water discharge associated with industrial activity as defined in 567-Chapter 60 .
i . Return flows from irrigated agriculture.

“Stressing Iowa’s Environment: An Argument, A Snapshot, An Overview.”

“Sinkholes and Confinements in Karst Topography”.
by Bob Watson

(Presented to Iowa Academy of Science, Spring 2006)

We live in a state where even though we know it is immoral to poison your neighbor, it is not illegal.

Because we have adopted petro-chemical (row crop)/ industrial (confinement) agriculture as our dominant model of agriculture over the last 50 years, rural America has become a sacrifice area.

There are no cities or towns in Iowa that I am aware of that take their manhole covers off of their sewers, put blowers down in the sewers, and blow those poison sewer gasses up into the air over those cities. There are obvious health reasons why this is not allowed. Knowing that these same poison sewer gasses are being produced by confinements, why do we allow these poison gasses to be blown into our rural neighborhoods?

By using two particular examples of confinements in karst, the larger general context of petro-chemical/industrial agriculture’s detrimental environmental and ecological effects will come into focus. One of the confinements discussed is a chicken confinement which, because of multiple buildings on each site measuring 60 feet by 620 feet each and each building containing 49,999 birds, raises the issues of scale, “human induced sinkholes”, antibiotic resistance through integrons in the beds, and bird flu risk among others. These chicken confinements belong to Cottonballs whose owners also own Agriprosessors in Postville. The hog confinement example is referred to locally as the St. Bridget’s Catholic Church confinement and this confinement highlights the loss of the legal requirement of having a 1000 foot separation distance between a confinement and a sinkhole in karst.

Sinkholes, a major feature of karst topography, besides appearing out of the blue, are a direct conduit to underground streams, rivers, springs and aquifers (which are one of our public sources of clean drinking water). Think of sinkholes as enablers of environmental disaster if there were a confinement pollution event close by.

The karst topography in much of the Upper Iowa River Watershed and the rest of Northeast Iowa consists of fractured bedrock overlain by a thin layer of soil. In karst areas, surface water travels rapidly and unfiltered through fractures in the bedrock, through sinkholes, and through stream sinks and can quickly mix with groundwater.

The dynamic mixing of surface and groundwater makes karst areas particularly susceptible to groundwater contamination. In addition, surface water that enters the ground through a sinkhole can re-emerge through springs and seeps many miles away from where it originally went under ground, making it difficult to identify the original source of impairment or pollution.

Here are two slides which will give a little context. (Show slide #1 and #2). Slide #1 shows the tilt of the aquifers under Iowa. Slide #2 shows the areas of fractured bedrock and sinkholes. This gives you a good idea of the intersection of the aquifers and sinkhole in karst. And, illustrates fairly clearly that what we flush in Northeast Iowa you ultimately drink.

Recognizing the larger ecological problem being that we have adopted industrial technologies for agricultural use, it is a shame that petro-chemical/industrial agriculture is portrayed by corporate agricultural entities and some politicians as nothing more than what farming has always been. Any defense of industrial agriculture, based on the notion that this is how agriculture has always operated in the past, is rendered moot because industrial processes, new to agriculture and never intended for use outside of strict regulation, have only recently been adopted for use in the unregulated area of agriculture. In today’s confinements, versus farms of 50 years ago, we see diseases and deaths to both animals and humans because we are no longer dealing with composted manure spread to fertilize the soil, but are instead dealing with a poison liquid which has been made toxic through cooking for months in a septic tank, lagoon or pit. The poison gases hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia are constantly generated from this untreated fecal waste and are continuously blown into the air of the neighborhood from the inside of the confinement building. We have people working in a hazardous workplace ignorant of the dangers because agriculture has been, by law, exempted from the regulations which would educate and protect them. People in the neighborhoods of confinements are in a similar situation as they are repeatedly told this is only a nuisance and they do not have the protections from these poisons afforded all other citizens where similar circumstances exist.

This is an important argument in that it gives a structure to understand generally all the particular community problems when a confinement moves into the neighborhood. It becomes not an argument about farming, but about industrial processes and their resultant poisons and how the community is affected by them.

In every sector of America where fecal waste, constantly generating the poison gasses hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia, exists in a closed structure the federal “Confined Spaces Regulations” are the controlling laws, except in agriculture. How do we know they should be applied here too? In logic, there is an argument: if a=b and b=c, then a=c. If hog confinements and sewer pipes both are closed structures, if they both have untreated fecal waste in them, if that waste constantly generates the poison gases hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia, if the causes of diseases and deaths from those gasses are the same, if you need constant ventilation to survive in either a confinement or a sewer pipe, then confinements and sewer pipes are the same. The differences are: sewers are designed to contain the poison gasses while confinements are designed to blow them into the surrounding neighborhood; the waste in sewers is ultimately treated while the confinements don’t get their waste treated (for those who tout that some sort of treatment would solve the problems with confinements let me point out that that would make no difference to air pollution because the venting of poison gases to the atmosphere is an issue separate from and prior to any treatment); there is no federal ‘Confined Spaces Regulation’ providing for education and training about, and protections from, a hazardous work place; and there are no regulations protecting the public from these poisons from confinements as there is in sewers and as there is everywhere else in America where fecal waste producing hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia gases exist in a closed structure.

In Iowa law there is supposed to be a 1000 foot separation distance between sinkholes and confinements in NE Iowa’s karst topography. That separation distance gives the public some assurance that their public water supply, aquifers, will not be subject to a pollution event from an industrial agricultural confinement. Not so anymore. Because there are so many places a proposed new confinement would be within 1000 feet of a sinkhole, and therefore not allowed, some pork producers asked our local legislators, Chuck Gipp and Mark Zieman, to change the law. In 2002 they did. SF 2293 repealed the section in 455B which had, in part, to do with separation distance from sinkholes. A new provision for “secondary containment structures” allowed building confinements within the 1000 foot minimum.

When confinements started being put in next to sinkholes (the St Bridget’s confinement), we asked the DNR how that could be when there was supposed to be a 1000 foot separation. The DNR held an upper level management meeting where this was discussed. At that meeting the DNR lawyers said that because of the way the new law was written, a variance granted for the 1000 foot minimum if a “secondary containment structure” was put in place, there was “effectively no longer any separation distance between sinkholes and confinements”. A confinement could now be built right next to a sinkhole. Oddly, no one at that DNR meeting seemed to think they might want to look into how or why this change to the safety of the public’s water supply happened.

It happened because some producers in Allamakee County, which is extremely hilly, were looking for a way to expand their herds. They asked their legislators to grant a variance to the minimum separation distance law if a sinkhole within the separation distance was actually on the other side of a ridge in another mini-watershed.

There are two problems with this change in the law. One problem is thinking just because a sinkhole is over a hill it isn’t going to be impacted by any pollution events within 1000 ft. And the second problem is that the language of the changed law left out the words “in another watershed”, which was the only variance the producers were actually asking for; and by being left out of the new language allowed confinements to be sited uphill from and right next to existing sinkholes.

The concept of “secondary containment” comes from the EPA’s regulation of the petroleum industry. It originally meant an earthen berm 360 degrees around a set of above ground tanks capable of holding 150% of the largest tank. The rules that were put in place to carry out the Iowa law say the berm must contain 120% capacity of an above grade (above ground) storage structure. In karst, because of sinkholes, confinements are required to have underground tanks and earthen lagoons for manure storage are not allowed. But, “secondary containment” in karst now means a pit dug on one side of the building big enough to hold 50% of the manure. How this ground level pit is supposed to contain a leak from an underground tank is unknown. How any spill is supposed to happen on only that one side of the building is unknown. And, how something illegal in karst for manure storage because of sinkholes, namely an earthen structure (the pit), allows you to build right next to a sinkhole in karst is also unknown.

Somehow in karst we have not only lost minimum separation distance to sinkholes, but also the 120% capacity has become 50%, and the berm calculation is based on above ground storage, which is not allowed in karst. If you carry out the berm calculation, because there is no above grade storage to multiply out, the answer always turns out to be zero. This is clearly an absurd situation and when I pointed this out to Jeff Vonk he said he wasn’t concerned that the calculation was absurd because the tanks were concrete. This is a naïve perspective in light of what hydrogen-sulfide does to any concrete tank and what Mother Nature has shown us she thinks of our technology lately.

We are in real danger when our legislators are unable to understand the effects of laws they pass. And when they, and our regulatory officials, are apprised of those effects and are unwilling to reinsert the provisions which protect the public, we are courting disaster.

Am I being Chicken Little crying that the sky is going to fall? If we know what has happened when we build waste storage in karst topography when no sinkholes are apparent (show pictures 1 and 2 of lagoon sinkhole events), then why would we be so stupid as to risk ruining our public water by sighting waste storage right next to a known sinkhole?

We are having a running argument with the State Geologist, Bob Libra, about the nature of karst, Iowa’s karst, and what are referred to as “human induced sinkholes”. Bob said he doesn’t attend the annual “Sinkhole Conferences” (where last year half the papers presented were about “human induced sinkholes”) because Iowa’s karst is not the same as other karst. (show Garnavillo) Well, here is Garnavillo’s lagoon. I guess our karst is not so different from other karst areas after all.

This is probably a good time to bring in the chicken confinement example since what we are dealing with there is a “human induced sinkhole” and the pollution events which that sinkhole has caused.

It was alleged that during site preparation for a Cottonballs LLC industrial broiler confinement site (#1) in Winneshiek County, the contractor doing the work breached a shallow level aquifer. This was done either when leveling off the tops of two hills to create room for two 60′ by 620′ buildings and the road around them, or when they were scraping away bedrock in the area in between where the buildings would be (down to rock that their equipment could no longer scrape through) for surface drainage.

The contractor admitted to Mike Meyer that the pollution in Mike’s never-before-polluted-spring was caused by his site work and that they attempted to repair the breached aquifer by putting dirt on it. Mike had tested his spring the week before and did so after it turned milky yellow and also took numerous pictures. Incidentally, the test results from the Iowa Hygienic Lab comments stated the water was no longer safe for drinking and the springs’ aquifer must have been disturbed somehow and that disturbance should be discovered and corrected.

There have now been seven pollution events in the Meyer spring following directly on the heels of four construction events at Cottonballs’ sites 1 and 2. And, an eighth event of a new natural sinkhole opening up down the drainage of site #2.

First event: Meyer spring inundated with limestone residue following initial scraping of bedrock at site 1 down to rock that no longer could be dug out.

Second event: black dirt put over area at site 1 to try to cover up the “human induced” sinkhole washed through to the Meyer spring.

Third event: well drilling foam from well being drilled on site 2 washed through to Meyer spring.

Fourth event: more foam coming through to the spring.

Fifth event: the DNR said that a certain type of soil needed to be put on the area of the breach and that would stop the flow of the sediment to the spring. That soil washed through into the spring with the first 1″ plus rain of the season.

Sixth event: more of that new soil washed through to the spring with this last weekend’s rain.

Seventh event: on Wednesday, June 21st, after a 1.7″ rain event, sediment pollution of the soil which was supposed to close everything back up came through to the spring. This is the third time the special soil has washed through to the spring.

Eighth event: a new natural sinkhole has opened up down the drainage slope from site 2.

Ninth event: the floor of one of the buildings has remained wet. The fans have been on for over a month (this is July 28th) trying to dry the floor out. Remember that broilers must have a dirt floor. We believe this drying problem is from creating a seep/spring along with the “human induced sinkhole” when the aquifer was originally breached. They have effectively built on a spring and the floor will probably always have water creeping through it.

There were two more pollution events to the spring in August of ’06. August 6th sediment pollution to the spring from a 1.1″ rain’; and August 14th a very cloudy lime sediment event to the spring from a 1.7″ rain. There have now been nine direct pollution events to the spring from site 1 and site 2.

There were two more documented pollution events in the spring of 2007; and a third event in April which finally allowed the chicken manure, which had been hauled out of the east ends of the buildings and piled on the driveway right next to the sink area, to reach the Meyer Spring and from there flowed into the Yellow River.

Our meetings with the DNR about this site have been less than satisfying for a number of reasons.

The Legislature has never given the DNR any authority to stop a pollution event from happening. The DNR must wait for pollution to happen before doing anything.

Even though grading at site 1 has created “sinkhole like pollution events” in the Meyer spring, we can’t get the State Geologist to agree that a “human induced sinkhole” was created at site 1. If the DNR did agree that this was a sinkhole, site 1 could not be used for any confinement. Half the papers presented at last years 10th Annual Sinkhole Conference held in San Antonio Texas were about “human induced sinkholes”

The DNR will not stop construction at site 1 until conclusive evidence is found one way or the other whether a sinkhole now exists there.

The DNR will not accept responsibility for monitoring site 1, and will not continue to test water at the Meyer spring. They say those responsibilities are Mike Meyer’s even though Iowa law has been changed and no sample collected by a private citizen, Iowater trained or not, even tested at an accredited lab, is allowed in court proceedings.

The State says the DNR has authority in cases like this. Even though the DNR can’t, or won’t, do anything, the State will not allow the County protect the neighbor’s water.

There are many laws which exist to control situations like this and other confinement type structures. They are just not allowed to be used to protect people when agriculture is involved.

Even though no laws exist for CAFO’s to control their poison gas discharges, laws exist which make CAFO’s responsible for monitoring and reporting to the EPA those discharges. These planned chicken confinement facilities in Winneshiek County will be above the threshold which requires EPA notification of ammonia discharges (CERCLA provision of Superfund: Community Right to Know).

The threshold for EPA notification of ammonia discharge of 100 lbs/day is reached by a facility when there are approximately 35,000 broilers in a building. This proposal will have 49,999 broilers in each building. Thus, monitoring equipment per EPA regulations should be installed in each building and the EPA should be contacted each day that the facility discharges more than 100 lbs of ammonia into the atmosphere. No such provisions have been required by the State. We have requested that our County adopt the Superfund’s CERCLA provisions.

We are still trying to get people to understand that, because of scale, these chicken confinements will always cause problems in karst topography.

Scientists have long known that waste beds of commercial chicken houses abound with potentially dangerous bacteria. In April ’05 a team led by microbiologist Anne Summers of the University of Georgia reported that the beds are also littered with integrons, genes that can render those bacteria impervious to several antibiotics at once, making them nearly impossible to kill.

For 13 weeks, Summers and her colleagues sampled feces, skin, feathers, and other organic material from two major commercial chicken houses in Georgia. The scientists discovered high numbers of integrons not only in bacteria such as E coli and salmonella but also in germs that were previously assumed to be free of the resistance-forming genes, such as staphylococci. The result suggests that integrons are much more common, both in animals and the humans who handle them, than previously thought.

Microbiologists believe that integrons have existed for eons but took on their current role only after the development of the first antibiotics, which gave an advantage to microbes that could collect the resistance genes. These gene snippets spread when their bacterial hosts reproduce or acquire them from nearby dead cells. Moreover, integrons travel easily between humans, pets, livestock, and their wastes via bacteria that are inhaled or eaten. I Quote: “We continually ingest bacteria from uncooked food, from our pets, from intimate behavior with other humans, and from putting our unwashed hands into our noses or mouths,” Summers says. “This is a warning bell.” It explains why antibiotic resistance spreads so quickly and extensively after drugs are introduced.” End Quote. It takes six weeks for these bugs to make their way into the bodies of the workers and neighbors in and around these confinements, possibly leaving them with no way to fight diseases normally treatable with antibiotics. (Taken from: “The Antibiotic Fox in the Henhouse” by Maia Weinstock in the DISCOVER Vol. 25 No. 08 | August 2004 | Biology & Medicine.)

There are literally hundreds of studies that have been done on the effects of hog confinements on people and animals over the last 45 years. Ironically, because some studies to set human limits for these gases were done on pigs, we know that animals are susceptible to the same diseases from confinements as people. There may be an argument by some about the “good science” of all those studies, but there can be no argument about the government’s own studies (Utah) culling hospital records, pre- and post-confinement introduction into a community, which show clearly a tripling of those illnesses generally associated with exposure to hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia. These are a direct result of the constant venting of those poison gasses into the neighborhood and the contamination of the sources of water. Add to that, records which show human mortality from hydrogen-sulfide poisoning four times higher in Iowa in agriculture than in the regulated wastewater industry, and a need for public health protection from confinements becomes more than obvious.

A proximity study of confinements to rural schools in Iowa and the incidence of asthma among those students was conducted by the University of Iowa’s Dr. Joel Kline. The overall rate of physician-diagnosed asthma in Iowa is about 6.7%. Two rural schools were in the study. One had no confinement closer than 10 miles, and the other was ½ mile from a confinement. The students in the school which was 10 miles away from a confinement were found to have 11.7%, or double the Iowa rate for asthma. 24.6% of the students in the school which was only a ½ mile from a confinement were found to have asthma, four times the Iowa rate.

In a recent study by James Merchant of the University of Iowa on asthma in children who live on a farm with a CAFO http://www.ehponline.org/members/2004/7240/7240.pdf , it was found that after all other factors were accounted for, a shocking 55.8% of those children had asthma as a direct result of living on that farm with that CAFO. This study also found that antibiotics from the confinements are aerosol-ized and blown into the air along with the poison gases. We are breathing not only poison gases from these confinements but also antibiotics.

These are astounding rates of asthma, 11.7%-24.6%-55.8%, for people and children in rural Iowa who are in proximity to confinements.

Explanations of the Midwest wide cloud of ammonia haze, concentrated over Iowa, conveniently leave out as sources of that haze the over 10,000 CAFO’s and open feedlots which constantly (24/7) spew ammonia into the atmosphere. (show picture) The authors of this map who use this information in their presentations do attribute the ammonia to animal feeding operations; both CAFO’s and open feedlots. The DNR has had conversations about and knows that when it rains and the ammonia precipitates out of the air as ammonium nitrate, that amount of ammonium nitrate is a significant contributor to the EPA imposed limit where ammonia is no longer a nutrient, but becomes a pollutant in our surface waters. In other words, farmers don’t need to put down ammonia fertilizer in Iowa, they just need it to rain.

Finally let me address whether or not through conservation methods petro-chemical/industrial agriculture can be saved from itself. I think the answer is no. Because there are no soil building practices inherent in petro-chemical/industrial agriculture, if we don’t change the model we will ultimately run out of soil. Because of our hilly topography, this is already happening in Northeast Iowa. Even in areas where we have adopted no-till practices, we are still losing 5.5 tons of soil/acre/year. Because of petro-chemical/industrial agricultures very nature we will always be putting chemicals from fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides into the environment. We will always be putting toxic waste from confinements into the air and water. We will always have the anti-biotic resistance problem. And, because we have tiled most of the land, and because we are technically farming subsoil which is no longer rich in organic life capable of treating and using our waste, we will always have harmful organisms and poisons going through those tiles directly into our surface and groundwater. Because of these reasons, petro-chemical/industrial agriculture is ultimately a dead end. Only through a move to different models of agriculture can we expect to attain a clean and healthy agriculture and environment.

There are benign models of agriculture which exist. By adopting these models we not only build soil and clean up the environment, but because that type of farming uses labor and management rather than structures and inputs, we put more farmers back on the land.

Iowa Code 2003: Section 455E.5 Groundwater protection policies. #3 All persons in the state have the right to have their lawful use of groundwater unimpaired by the activities of any person which render the water unsafe or unpotable. #4 All persons in the state have the duty to conduct their activities so as to prevent the release of contaminants into groundwater. These, and the other sections of 455E.5, seem rather clear.

Because these laws are being ignored and because agriculture has been exempted from most regulatory laws which would normally control actions and protect people, we are left with appealing to morals and ethics to affect what is happening to our environment and to our people.

For the purpose of this discussion I will mean moral to be about life, health and mortality, and ethics in this context will be about interactions between beings. The specific moral and ethical dimensions I would like you to keep in mind as you think about what I have presented here are:

Moral implications of using an inherently poisonous (petro-chemical/industrial) model of agriculture;

Ethical implications of using an inherently poisonous model of agriculture when benign models exist;

Ethical implications of transferring highly regulated industrial technologies into the unregulated (by law) area of agriculture;

Ethical implications of having no conversation on the use of these models in the national political arena where we make these choices;

Moral implications of having laws which lead directly to the poisoning of people resulting in disease and death;

Ethical implications of using laws to take away protection of people in the case of petro-chemical/industrial agriculture, when in every other sector of America where these conditions exist, laws protect people;

Ethical implications of laws which are internally absurd being used to deny protections both to people and the environment;

Moral implications of one sector of society taking away clean air and water for all other sectors (read people) through daily operation and pollution events.

Thank you.

Slides from the IAS presentation (Powerpoint not required).

1. Bedrock Aquifer Systems across Iowa. Southwest to Northeast.

2. Sinkholes and shallow carbonate bedrock.

3. Anderson, Missouri lagoon sinkhole.

4. West Plains, Missouri lagoon sinkhole.

5. Garnavillo, Iowa lagoon sinkhole.

6. Midwest wide ammonia cloud. Courtesy of Donna Kenski, Phd. Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium, Des Plaines, IL.

Slides for the IAS presentation – POWERPOINT VERSION

Chapter 64 – pdf format