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Umatilla Area Feedlot Faces $25,000 Penalty

Release Date: 6/19/2001
Contact Information: Bub Loiselle
(206) 553-6901

June 18, 2001 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 01-17

The regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it is seeking $25,000 in penalties from the owners and operators of a beef cattle feedlot that was illegally discharging large volumes of manure into nearby Red Elk Creek and the Umatilla River. The facility, owned by Jerry and Sharon Weathers, is located on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
Cattle waste can contain bacterial, viral, and parasitic pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Cryptosporidium which can cause gastroenteritis, fever, kidney failure, and even death. Cattle waste is also rich in nutrients that deplete dissolved oxygen in water bodies. This is a particularly important issue in the Umatilla River basin where endangered salmon and steelhead require cold, oxygen-rich waters throughout their life cycles.

EPA inspectors visited the facility on February 27, 2001, and observed animal waste and other pollutants being discharged directly into Red Elk Creek, a tributary of the Umatilla River. Red Elk Creek originates outside of and passes through the facility, and animals confined there come into direct contact with the creek. EPA believes the facility was operated in this configuration for at least the previous five years, discharging pollutants into Red Elk Creek on each day of operation during those five years.

At the time of the February 27, 2001, inspection, animal wastes and other pollutants were also being discharged into Red Elk Creek through two man-made conveyances, specifically two city drinking water turnouts operated by the City of Pendleton.

“This is a site with a very high potential for affecting human health and the environment, especially with a drinking water supply at risk” said Bub Loiselle, Manager of EPA Region 10's Water Quality Compliance Unit. “It needs immediate attention.”