Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is postponing its decision on whether to order an Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed swine facility in Fillmore County. The agency is postponing the decision on Catalpa Ag’s proposal to allow time to evaluate additional testing recently done at the project site. This testing included further investigation of potential karst features like sinkholes and suitability of the site for manure basins. The MPCA plans to hold a public meeting to share results of that additional testing.
The agency also needs more time to respond to 771 comment letters – a record number – received on the Environmental Assessment Worksheet and permit coverage for the feedlot.
A decision on the need for an Environmental Impact Statement must be made by Dec. 31, 2018.
The project proposer, Al Hein of Mabel, Minn., majority owner of Catalpa Ag LLC, agreed to postponing the decision. The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board also had to grant the extension for making the decision.
Catalpa proposes to build a new 4,890-head swine farrowing facility about 10 miles east of Harmony in Newburg Township, Fillmore County. It would include two barns, an animal mortality composting building, a stormwater basin, and a livestock watering well.
The proposed facility would generate an estimated 7.3 million gallons of liquid manure annually that would be stored in reinforced concrete pits below the barns, with a total capacity of nearly 8.9 million gallons. Catalpa would remove the manure in fall and inject it into cropland as fertilizer following an MPCA-approved manure management plan requiring at least 732 acres of cropland. More than 1,761 acres of cropland are available for land application among 24 sites in the county.
Under state rules, the size of the proposed feedlot required an Environmental Assessment Worksheet, used by state agencies to determine if a more in-depth Environmental Impact Statement is needed. 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 worksheet, which is now closed for comment, is available on the MPCA website by going to www.pca.state.mn.us and searching for “Environmental Review.” The comment letters received are also posted on the website.