The Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club has filed a complaint alleging that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has failed to adequately enforce the odor control requirements of Seaboard Food Inc.'s Ladder Creek hog feeding operation in northeast Greeley County.
The complaint says that Seaboard's permit contains a condition that the ten waste impoundments at Ladder Creek must be filled to a level of 10 feet to allow mixing of clean water with hog manure at the facility and keep odor under control.
The current capacity of the facility is 132,000 mature hogs.
The first barns were stocked on July 17, 2012 and the Sierra Club filed a complaint on August 22, 2013 noting that water levels in 3 of the first 5 impoundments to be placed into operation were still significantly below the 10-foot standard for odor control.
KDHE grants Seaboard an exception
KDHE responded to the complaint by granting Seaboard an exception to the permit condition, cutting the requirement to as little as 5 feet, 6 inches.
"The permit contains no language allowing such an exception," says Sierra Club attorney Robert V. Eye, former General Counsel of KDHE. The 10-foot standard is unequivocal and should be enforced as written."
"When KDHE accepted the calculations as provided by Seaboard, they not only did not follow KDHE's own design manual, they did not adhere to ASABE engineering standards for design of anaerobic treatment lagoons," says Kathy J. Martin, a professional engineer from Oklahoma who specializes in evaluating waste management systems of large animal feeding operations. "The ASABE standard clearly requires a treatment depth that includes space attributable to the manure volume and sludge buildup, which were ignored in Seaboard's calculation."
Seaboard plans to expand the Ladder Creek operation in Greeley County to almost 200,000 hogs next year.
"Water depth in lagoons may seem like a minor issue to some," says Craig Volland, Chair of the agriculture committee of the Kansas Sierra Club chapter. "But KDHE's handling of this should cause concern for all Kansans. If some big corporation brings thousands of hogs into your county, your quality of life will not be protected."