MPCA invites comment on proposed swine expansion in Freeborn County

Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) invites the public to comment on the environmental review of a proposed swine expansion in Freeborn County. John Perschbacher proposes to double his hog finishing facility near Alden, from 2,400 swine to 5,000. The public may submit written comments on the environmental review through 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 10.

The MPCA will also hold a public informational meeting on the proposed project Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Alden City Hall, 174 North Broadway Ave., Alden, Minn. The meeting will start with an open house at 6 p.m. Presentations explaining the proposal, environmental review and feedlot permit will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by time for questions from the public.

Perschbacher plans to build a new 2,500-head swine finishing facility about 2 miles southeast of Alden. It would include the existing total confinement barn, the new total confinement barn, and a livestock watering well. There are 18 homes and 1 commercial hair salon within 1 mile, with the nearest residence about 0.4 mile to the north.

The expanded feedlot would generate an estimated 2 million gallons of liquid manure annually that would be stored in reinforced concrete pits below the barns, with a total capacity of 2.46 million gallons. Perschbacher would remove the manure in fall and transfer it to different entities for application as crop fertilizer.

The third-party manure recipients must follow an MPCA-approved manure management plan that requires at least 605 acres for application. They plan to use five manure application sites in Alden and Pickerel Lake townships with a total capacity of 676 acres. All 5 sites are within 2 miles of the facility and all are currently in crop production. Some of the application sites have several homes nearby. One site is within 1 mile of Alden’s public drinking water well, though the Minn. Department of Health lists the city of Alden’s well as “not vulnerable.”

Perschbacher’s environmental consultant used computer modeling to predict how the project’s emissions would impact air quality. The modeling predicts that the project would meet state air quality standards. The modeling took into account the existing feedlots in the area and their cumulative effect.

State agencies use an Environmental Assessment Worksheet to help decide whether a project requires a more extensive Environmental Impact Statement. The worksheet covers site location details, nearby resources and other elements, including wells, soil types, water use, manure management, air and odor emissions, and traffic.

The project’s worksheet is available on the MPCA's Environmental Assessment Worksheet webpage. It’s also available by calling Steve Sommer of the MPCA at 651-757-27466. Written comments may be sent by email to steve.sommer@state.mn.us, or mailed to him at the MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN 55155-4194.

The proposed feedlot requires federal, state and county permits. The MPCA will issue coverage under the National Pollution Disposal Elimination System permit, which sets certain conditions to protect human and environmental health. The MPCA is also accepting comment on the permit coverage through Oct. 10. The public notice is available on the MPCA's Public Notice webpage, and scrolling down to Sept. 10. Paul Brietzke of the MPCA will be accepting written comments on the permit coverage either by email to paul.brietzke@state.mn.us, or mailed to him at MPCA, 18 Wood Lake Dr. SE, Rochester, MN 55904. For more information about the permit coverage, call Brietzke at 507-206-2616.

The project would also require a Minn. Department of Natural Resources water appropriation permit because the facility would pump more than 1 million gallons of water a year from the existing well.