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Indiana Hog Farmer Fined For Water Contamination

An environmental group says the fines are not harsh enough, but IIDEM says its penalties for water quality contamination are stricter than federal regulations.

Manure Lagoons

Photo: Peter McBride (Flicker)

Manure lagoons at an Indiana CAFO.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has fined a Randolph County hog farmer for spreading 200,000 gallons of hog manure on an open field. The manure from Aaron Chalfant’s farm eventually made its way into a local waterway, washed downstream and killed more than 100,000 fish.

Chalfant must pay a $1,000 fine and plant 550 trees, but the Hoosier Environmental Council says that is not enough.

Kim Ferraro is the director of agricultural and water policy at the Hoosier Environmental Council. She says Chalfant’s case is just one of many where large animal feeding operations has damaged the water quality in the state.

“The whole purpose of our regulation is to make sure that manure is not finding its way into our waterways, and so if you’re going to make it cost prohibitive to do that, then you’ve got to make penalties equal to the damage that it cost.” Ferraro says.

IDEM spokesman Bruce Palin says the department deals with each complaint against one of the state’s hog farmers on a case-by-case basis.

“The circumstance, is it something that an accident occurred, that caused it release, is it something that was deliberate situation or one that were violating one of our the regulation that it caused to release,” Palin says.  ”All these things are taken into consideration when deciding what the appropriate level of penalty is.”

Palin says IDEM’s rules are stricter than federal laws. He also says his department only imposes fines for violation of water quality standards. The Department of Natural Resources could implement a separate penalty for killing the fish.

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