Environmental Enforcement: Moran Beef to Pay $20,000 over Water Allegations

by | May 31, 2011

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Moran Beef Inc. – a beef feedlot in Underwood, Iowa – has agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty over allegations of unpermitted wastewater discharges from its facility into a nearby watercourse, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced.

Moran agreed to pay the penalty as part of an administrative consent agreement filed by EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kan. In June 2009, EPA inspectors visited the facility and determined that it lacked controls to prevent the discharge of animal waste into Mosquito Creek and its tributaries. An inspection in October 2009 collected samples of effluent that showed the facility was discharging pathogens, ammonia and nitrate into an unnamed tributary of the creek, the EPA says.

At the time of EPA’s inspection of Moran Beef, the facility was confining approximately 1,485 cattle in its open lot and confinement barn operations. A feedlot of this type with both open lots and confinement barns is subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act as a “large concentrated animal feeding operation” if the entire operation contains more than 1,000 beef cattle.

EPA issued an administrative compliance order to Moran Beef in January 2010, directing it to comply with requirements of the Clean Water Act and end all unauthorized discharges of wastewater from its facility. Following that order, Moran Beef applied for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit and has built controls at its facility to prevent unauthorized discharges.

Unpermitted discharges of wastewater from such large factory farms can affect water quality standards and pose risks to human health, threaten aquatic life and its habitat, and impair public use and enjoyment of waterways, the agency says.

One of the EPA’s current focuses is on large and medium-sized farms that are discharging pollution without or in violation of a permit.

Earlier this month a Texas-based concentrated animal feeding operation agreed to pay a $1.9 million civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.

The penalty for Mahard, which the EPA says is the largest ever leveled from a federal enforcement action involving a concentrated animal feeding operation, was for multiple alleged violations at the firm’s facilities throughout Texas and Oklahoma, many of which centered on unauthorized discharging of animal waste into local streams and rivers.

On top of the penalty, Mahard will spend approximately $3.5 million on remedial measures to ensure compliance with the law and protect the environment and people’s health.

Picture credit: Alvxyz

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