Tuesday 12 December 2017

Agriculture (29)

EPA Guidance Falls Short of Protecting Communities Featured

Air Releases of Hazardous Substances from Animal Waste Will Continue Sometimes our job as Waterkeepers can get very wonky. And this is one of those times. Not only do we comment on and challenge flawed regulations, we also slog through the guidance documents that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drafts about how these regulations should be interpreted and applied. Last month, the EPA released a Guidance regarding a new requirement that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) – known as factory farms -- report the release of hazardous substances from their facilities. This Guidance came a few months after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that CAFOs are not exempt from the reporting requirements under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). The decision was meant to close a EPA loophole that has long exempted CAFOs from reporting the same hazardous substances – like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide – as other industries. The Court reasoned that public health professionals and emergency responders would need this information to adequately respond to emergencies and community threats. Under the ruling, a CAFO owner or operator must notify federal authorities under CERCLA and state and local authorities under EPCRA after it releases a large amount of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide. The EPA estimates that nearly three-quarters of the country’s ammonia emissions come from CAFOs. According to the Government Accountability Office, the amount of manure from CAFOs ranges from 2,800 tons to 1.6…
Join your Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, along with neighbors and the brave defenders of the Potomac watershed on November 5th in Chevy Chase, Maryland from 7-10pm at the Meadowbrook Park Activity Building. We will celebrate and learn about our unique watershed and a small community's fight against a large hog Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in Fulton County, PA.  This factory-like facility would be the largest in the county and would house close to 9,000 hogs, while confining sows to production of 9,600 piglets each month – or 115,200 piglets annually. With this many pigs comes even more manure. The CAFO would apply over 11.4 million gallons of manure to land in our watershed and use an estimated 14 million gallons of water each year. Our upstream neighbors and community members, led by homeowner Marjorie Hudson (pictured below) - who lives across from the proposed hog CAFO - have opposed the project since it was proposed in 2014. Thanks to their efforts, they have been able to stop the CAFO from polluting nearby air, land and waterways. The location of the proposed CAFO is on a hill that drains into tributaries of Big Cove Creek, a popular fishing location. The waters of Big Cove Creek flow into Licking Bend Creek, which is a tributary of the Potomac River. The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay and provides drinking water for approximately 4.5 million people.  Marjorie and her neighbors can't go it alone - they need our support! Please join us in support of Marjorie’s life-sustaining work…
Dominion Energy’s Coal Ash Pond Pollution In Virginia, both the James and Potomac Rivers are being severely impacted by coal ash pollution. Earlier this summer, the James River Association (JRA) objected to Dominion Energy’s draft permit to dewater coal ash ponds at Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station on the Lower James River. Lower James Riverkeeper Jamie Brunkow points out in public comments that the permit fails to protect the river and its ecosystems, while threatening public health. More recently, JRA, along with Southern Environmental Law Center took samples at four locations near the Chesterfield Station. The results revealed high levels of coal ash contaminants, like zinc, nickel, copper, lead and arsenic in the water. This month, a Virginia state board will vote on the draft permit governing the dewatering of the Chesterfield coal ash ponds. In addition, Potomac Riverkeeper Network’s challenge of the wastewater permit for Dominion’s Possum Point plant, on Quantico Creek near the Potomac River, goes to court later this month. Tests show coal ash contaminants in drinking water wells near Possum Point. READ MORE… Sewage Overflows in Baltimore City Back in 2002, Baltimore City entered into a binding agreement (a consent decree) with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fix its failing sewage system by January 2016. The agreement required Baltimore City to repair essential infrastructure in the City’s sewage system to prevent raw sewage from entering waterways and neighborhoods – bringing Baltimore City into compliance with the Clean Water Act. Although Baltimore City made some progress in the intervening 14…