Toxic air emissions and disrupting odors from factory farms often go unchecked, and in Wisconsin the DNR just this year gave agriculture sources of air pollution yet another pass from the state’s hazardous air pollution requirements.
This report from Grist tells of air pollution from a dairy in Minnesota so bad that nearby residents were asked to evacuate:
A giant dairy farm in Thief River Falls, Minn., is producing such noxious fumes that the state health department has advised nearby residents to evacuate. Excel Dairy’s emissions of hydrogen sulfide have been calculated at 200 times the standard allowed by Minnesota law; neighbors’ complaints include headaches, nausea, blurred vision, shortness of breath, and fatigue. “It’s so strong and so sour and so potent that it takes your breath right away,” says Jeff Brouse, who evacuated last week. “It’s so nauseous we’ve had neighbors throw up in their driveways.” Excel, which wants to add another 500 cows to its 1,500-cow dairy, says the extra fumes are coming from repairs to a damaged manure pit and are not illegal. Unappeased, some residents are planning a class-action suit against the dairy, and Marshall County has filed a public nuisance charge. Meanwhile, the U.S. EPA is considering a regulation change that would exempt factory farms from reporting toxic air pollution from animal waste.
More complete coverage is available from the Star-Tribune. A follow-up story from Northern Watch (affiliated with the Three River Falls Times) reports that the County will prosecute the dairy for causing a public nuisance. The possible $1,000 fine will be a slap on the risk for Excel Dairy, but its a start.