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TX egg producer to pay $1.9 million fine


May 31, 2011
By U.S. EPA

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layinghensMay 30, 2011,
Washington, DC – – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S.
Justice Department (DOJ) recently announced that Mahard Egg Farm, Inc., a Texas
corporation, will pay a $1.9 million penalty to resolve claims that the company
violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its egg production facilities in Texas
and Oklahoma.
May 30, 2011,
Washington, DC – – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S.
Justice Department (DOJ)
recently announced that Mahard Egg Farm, Inc., a Texas
corporation, will pay a $1.9 million penalty to resolve claims that the company
violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its egg production facilities in Texas
and Oklahoma.

The civil penalty is the
largest amount to be paid in a federal enforcement action involving a
concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). The company will also spend
approximately $3.5 million on remedial measures to ensure compliance with the
law and protect the environment and people’s health.

layinghens 
  

“By working with DOJ and
our state partners in Texas and Oklahoma, we have reached a significant
settlement that reflects the seriousness of Mahard’s violations,” said Cynthia
Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance
Assurance
. “Large animal feeding operations that fail to comply with our nation’s
environmental laws threaten public health and the environment and put smaller
farming operations at a disadvantage.”

“This agreement is the
result of extensive cooperation between the states of Texas and Oklahoma and
the federal government to address multiple violations of the Clean Water Act at
Mahard facilities,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the
Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice.
“Ensuring the lawful handling of CAFO wastes will mean cleaner steams and
waterways in Texas and Oklahoma, which is important for aquatic habitats, safe
drinking water, and public recreation.”

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The CWA complaint, filed
jointly with the settlement by the United States and the states of Texas and
Oklahoma, alleges that Mahard operated a facility without a permit and
discharged pollutants into area waterways. Mahard also allegedly discharged
pollutants or otherwise failed to comply with the terms of its permits at six
other facilities, including its newest facility near Vernon, Texas, where it
also failed to comply with the Texas Construction Storm Water Permit and to
ensure safe drinking water for its employees. The states of Texas and Oklahoma
also alleged violations of state laws.

Most egg production
facilities generate various wastes, including wet or dry manure from chicken
houses, wastewater from the egg-washing process, and compost from chicken
carcasses. If done properly, these wastes may be sold or contained on-site in
manure storage lagoons, prior to being applied to nearby fields. However,
the joint complaint alleges that, as a result of Mahard’s historic practice of
over-applying waste to its fields, the soils at its facilities are saturated
with nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and, during and after rainfall, these
nutrients are discharged into area streams and waterways. In addition, at
several facilities, Mahard abandoned inactive and improperly designed manure
lagoons rather than closing them as required by law.

As part of this
settlement, Mahard has committed to comprehensive, system-wide changes in order
to bring each of its seven CAFO facilities into compliance with applicable
state and federal laws, permits, and regulations and to restore the lands to
prevent future discharges to area waterways. The settlement mandates the
performance of specific requirements, such as lagoon closures, groundwater
monitoring, and the construction and maintenance of buffer strips along area
waterways within the facility boundaries. It also requires on-going land restoration
and management measures, such as restrictions on land-application of manure and
livestock grazing.

The settlement, lodged
in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, is subject to a
30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.

For more information on
the settlement, visit http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/cwa/mahardegg.html.


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