Media contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-214-3789
Technical contact: George Schwint, 320-214-3793
Willmar, Minn . -- Overflows from manure storage basins at two large dairies on the same day in central Minnesota resulted in corrective requirements and a $17,000 penalty for each facility. Separate overflows occurred Oct. 5, 2005 at Westland Dairy near Richmond, and at Alpha Foods near Litchfield.
About 10,000 gallons escaped from the basin at Alpha Foods, and 25,000 gallons from the larger of two basins at Westland Dairy. In both cases, workers built earthen berms to contain the manure in adjacent road ditches. It was then pumped out and applied to cropland. Alpha Foods is authorized for 2,800 animal units (one dairy cow equals 1.4 animal units). Westland Dairy houses 1,020 dairy cows, and also includes 55,000 chickens.
The alleged violations included the manure overflows, and little or no "freeboard" - the distance from the brim of the basin to the liquid level. The facilities were also cited for failing to follow proper operating procedures, and a lack of some prevention measures, weekly inspections and reports.
Both facilities have completed or are completing requirements including installing depth markers, submitting reports, hiring a consulting engineer, and preparing an evaluation and report of their manure storage basins. Westland Dairy recently rebuilt its basin that includes a new plastic liner.
A Stipulation Agreement is one of the tools used to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner. For a comprehensive list of enforcement actions by the MPCA, go to the agency Web site at/newscenter/enforcement.html.