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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Minnesota Seeks Denial of CAFO Permit for Habitual Polluter

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has 111 confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) permits pending. Over the next month, after the standard 30-day public comment period, MPCA intends to approve 110 of them. MPCA has announced its intent to deny reissuance of just one of those CAFO permits.

Who gets skunk eye from MPCA? The New Horizon Dairy LLP of Hoffman, Minnesota. MPCA has dealt with this dairy previously, fining New Horizon $17,400 in 2007 for over-application of manure and use of an unpermitted storage basin.

MPCA now looks at the record of New Horizon and the other dairies connected with its ownership and says they won't get fooled again. You see, New Horizon is another dairy managed by serial lawbreaker and polluter Richard Millner of Veblen, South Dakota.

Speculation: One might look at Millner's horrible, no-good, very bad month and conclude that the regulators, courts, and bankers are piling on. Perhaps they are. Millner has shown a willingness to hire lawyers and mount dogged if sometimes absurd

Say, the press loves a good bloodbath. It remains boggling to me that the South Dakota media have said nothing about the spectacular collapse of Millner's extensive dairy fiefdom. defenses to fend off legal challenges to his dirty business practices. Perhaps MPCA, DENR, AgStar, and everyone else to whom Millner has regularly flipped the litigious bird have been waiting for a moment when Millner's legal resources would be stretched to the limit. This year's bankruptcy proceedings appear to be doing that, and the regulators and others with skin in the game are moving in for a long-overdue kill.
Serial lawbreaker and polluter—that's not just blog hyperbole. That's the conclusion that MPCA supports with this summary of the persistent deception and CAFO permit violations committed at every major dairy Rick Millner has been involved with in the tri-state area. Let MPCA explain (with my occasional emphasis):

...In concurrence with its previous action in the Excel Dairy matter and in accordance with Minn. Stat. § 115.076, the MPCA has preliminarily determined that the applicant has a history of non-compliance with Minnesota rules, statues, and permit conditions. The applicant has a history of routinely modifying feedlot facilities without authorization from the MPCA, allowing discharges to waters of the state, violating the state ambient air quality standards, and noncompliance with permit and administrative order requirements. The MPCA is aware of the applicant’s involvement in seven dairy facilities, past and present, all of which have had various non-compliance issues....

New Horizon Dairy, Grant County, Minnesota:

...A subsequent July 28, 2005, site inspection revealed a discharge to a coulee was occurring during the land application of manure. The manure application rate was 20,000 gallons per acre and the same field had received 18,000 gallons per acre three weeks prior, resulting in over-application of manure nutrients.... Also during the inspection, it was observed that manure had been placed in an unpermitted manure storage structure at the facility as a means of storing excess manure....

Excel Dairy, Marshall County, Minnesota

...In January 2010, the Marshall County District Court issued an injunction against Excel Dairy because Excel Dairy had failed to remove the manure from its basin as its permit required. The injunction required Excel Dairy to remove the manure from the basin as soon as field conditions allowed in the spring of 2010. Excel Dairy has failed to comply with that injunction and has been held in contempt of court for that failure to comply with the injunction.

...When Excel Dairy applied for its 2007 permit, Excel Dairy submitted a narrative Air Emission Plan that stated that Excel Dairy would apply straw to the manure basins to establish and maintain a crust on the basins to control air emissions from the basins. When the MPCA called upon Excel Dairy to comply with the Air Emission Plan Excel Dairy had submitted, Excel Dairy indicated that it had submitted the plan “accidentally” and that it had never truly intended to crust its basins despite what the written plan stated.

...Excel Dairy represented to the MPCA that it would either house 1,104 mature dairy cattle over 1,000 pounds or house a hybrid cow that weighed less than 1,000 pounds so that the facility could stock a total of 1,545 cattle.... [Excel Dairy] instead chose to stock 1,545 cattle over 1,000 pounds at the facility. This would equate to 2,163 animal units, significantly more than allowed in any of the previous permits.

...Excel Dairy has violated Minnesota’s hydrogen sulfide standards hundreds of times since May 2008.... Excel Dairy’s violations have been so severe that the families that live near Excel Dairy have been rendered physically ill by the emissions and have been forced to flee their homes on numerous occasions because of the sickening emissions.

Unnamed Dairy, Roseau County, Minnesota

...Rick Millner operated this facility before abandoning it in 1997. In September 1997, the MPCA staff inspected the abandoned facility and observed manure stockpiles still remaining on site as well as two earthen manure storage structures that still contained manure and were not properly closed.

Lone Tree Dairy, Yellow Medicine County, Minnesota

...In August 2006, the MPCA staff inspected the facility and documented the basin manure level above the basin freeboard limit level and determined that unless immediate basin manure removal and land application occurred, the basin manure level was in danger of breaching the basin’s constructed berm. The MPCA staff also observed that loose soil had been dumped and spread on top of the southeast corner of the basin’s constructed berm in an apparent attempt to prevent basin manure from spilling out the basin’s southeast corner. The MPCA did not approve or issue a permit for this modification of the basin....

Five Star Dairy, Sargent County, North Dakota

In November 2006, the North Dakota Department of Health issued a notice of violation (NOV) to the facility and its managing partner Rick Millner. The NOV stated that Five Star Dairy failed to receive approval from the North Dakota Department of Health prior to constructing a new manure storage pond. Also, Five Star Dairy submitted records that indicated that the facility was stocked with more animals than its permitted capacity of 1,400 head prior to gaining the appropriate approvals....

...Five Star Dairy was once more inspected by the North Dakota Department of Health on October 27, 2009, and, during that inspection, it was observed that the manure storage basins did not have adequate freeboard remaining. Follow-up inspections on November 2 and November 10, 2009, found that the manure storage basins were still above the allowable operating level, and no manure had been removed. A November 19, 2009, site inspection did reveal that some manure had been removed, but the level of manure in the basins remained above the allowable operating level... [Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Fact Sheet and Public Notice of Intent to Deny the Application for Reissuance of NPDES and SDS Permit for a CAFO Permit to New Horizon Dairy LLP, Hoffman, 2010.11.19]

MPCA also documents Millner's persistent violations of South Dakota environmental regulations and endangerment of the Whetstone Valley/Big Stone Lake watershed with his awful Veblen East and Veblen West dairies, as reported frequently here on the Madville Times.

Seven dairies. Seven dairies. Environmental violations at every one of them.

MPCA counts up the strikes and tells Rick Millner, "You're out!" It's about time. If a state issued a driver's license to a seven-time drunk driver, heads would roll. If a state issued a teaching certificate to a person convicted seven times of child neglect, heads would roll. That a serial offender like Millner has been able to stave off the law this long and pollute his communities for his own profit signals we need tougher enforcement of CAFO rules.

1 comment:

  1. Sandra Banish11/21/2010 10:31 AM

    I want to encourage everyone to write to your governor,politicians and the media about the financial disaster that is taking place at the dairies in Veblen, South Dakota. Let our voice become loud enough to make a difference.


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