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Archive for Sunday, August 12, 2001

Hog company cited for waste spills

August 12, 2001

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— A large Kansas City-based hog company faces scrutiny after spilling waste into north Missouri streams seven times within the last month, killing fish and tainting nearby streams.

Premium Standard Farms promised in 1999 to clean up its act. However, the company's recent actions have led to the spilling of thousands of gallons of the noxious wastes and has resulted in new violation notices, according the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Regulators are continuing to investigate two of the recent spills, but they had issued notices of violation for spills on July 11, 25 and 31, said Irene Crawford, director of natural resources' northeast office in Macon.

Currently, millions of gallons of hog wastes, flushed from barns, are stored in lagoons. From there the wastewater is pumped and sprayed onto farm fields as fertilizer.

But some of those applications have resulted in the recent spills.

"When moving that many millions of gallons," Arnot said, "it's difficult to assure none of it is going to leave the system."

In 1999 the hog company, among the nation's largest, promised state officials it would spend $25 million on new technology to solve the pollution problems in northern Missouri, where it has hundreds of lagoons and thousands of hogs.

Arnot said the company had brought in an attorney to evaluate its procedures and "see if there's anything we can do while we're developing new technologies."

The technologies the company is exploring includes the possibility of producing fuel oil from the hog wastes. This procedure will be used at a ConAgra turkey processing plant in Carthage, Mo., to turn offal and turkey wastes into oil and other marketable products.

Ken Midkiff, director of the Sierra Club in Missouri, said his group was disappointed to see the recent spills and believed the company violated its 1999 consent agreement with Missouri Atty. Gen. Jay Nixon.

"It appears there's been no improvement in their operations," Midkiff said. "At some point someone has got to decide to shut them down."

Premium Standard operates hog farms in Mercer, Putnam, Sullivan, Daviess and Gentry counties in Missouri. It also has hog farms based in Dalhart, Tex., and Clinton, N.C. The company processes 7,000 hogs daily at its plant in Milian, Mo.

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