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Willamette Valley Dairy's Waste Brings Fine

Release Date: 9/20/1999
Contact Information: Bub Loiselle
(206) 553-6901

September 20, 1999 - - - - - - - - - - - 99-45

A Marion County dairy in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has been issued a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency complaint seeking $44,000 in civil penalties because agency inspectors discovered manure-laden wastes entering nearby drainage ditches that connect to Champoeg Creek, and ultimately to the Willamette River.

Named in the complaint is Coleman Ranch, Inc., owner of a dairy (on Mahoney Road) in St. Paul, where the EPA inspectors last February observed wastes flowing from the dairy into ditches that flow to the creek. Inspectors also noted that the dairy had 50% more cattle on the property than allowed by their permit.

The complaint against the Coleman Ranch dairy was announced today by Bub Loiselle, manager of the water compliance unit at EPA's Northwest regional headquarters in Seattle.

"At its permitted level, this dairy produces as much waste as the city of Wilsonville. With the number of cattle found at the time of our inspection, we are talking about a city the size of Newburg or Woodburn,” Loiselle said. “The Willamette River is heavily distressed by loadings of nutrients from all sorts of agricultural activities, when it comes to animal wastes, the impacts on water quality can be severe.”

Loiselle said that the inspections of Oregon dairies are part of ongoing efforts by EPA and the Oregon Department of Agriculture to ensure that dairies and other concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. That statute requires all CAFOs to prevent discharges of wastes that can pollute nearby surface waters. Dairy waste typically contains large amounts of nutrients and other organic material that can degrade water quality and harm wildlife. The wastes can also contain E. coli bacteria and other microorganisms that can seriously affect human health.

Coleman Ranch, Inc. has 30 days from the date it receives the complaint to challenge the penalty or to contest the EPA allegations.

The complaint was accompanied by a compliance order that directs the dairy to cease all discharges immediately, to conduct daily monitoring to make sure no discharge takes place and -- if a discharge were to occur -- to make prompt reports to EPA about what happened.