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EPA: Ohio Fresh Eggs pleads guilty to environmental violations

Release Date: 05/19/2009
Contact Information: Phillippa Cannon, (312) 353-6218,

No. 09-OPA094

EPA: Ohio Fresh Eggs pleads guilty to environmental violations

CHICAGO (May 19, 2009) - The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), announced today that on May 18, 2009, Ohio Fresh Eggs, LLC (OFE) pled guilty in United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, to illegally discharging egg wash water into Kreisel Ditch, a tributary of Tymochtee Creek.

In addition to OFE's guilty plea, a plea agreement was filed with the Court. The agreement recommends that OFE serve a three-year term of probation. During the term of probation, the parties recommended to the Court, that OFE will pay a fine of $150,000 and pay a total of $150,000 to three charitable environmental organizations, as part of community service. Also, the during the term of probation, OFE has agreed to make a number of improvements to its facility, including the addition of another field to which the egg wash water will be applied.

OFE, a concentrated animal feeding operation, is the largest egg producer in the State of Ohio with 12 production facilities located in Northwest and Central Ohio. In Northwest Ohio, OFE operates a commercial egg farm located in Marseilles. Approximately three million egg laying chickens are housed at this facility. Kreisel Ditch is located near the facility.

Eggs produced at the Marseilles OFE facility are washed prior to shipment. The water from the egg washing process is collected in a lagoon at the farm. This wastewater contains broken eggs, soap, and a minor amount of manure. To dispose of the wastewater in the lagoon, OFE has a permit to apply it to a nearby field.

A contractor for OFE, Myron P. Lawler, directed a crew which applied the wastewater to the field. At Mr. Lawler's direction, the wastewater was negligently over-applied onto the field through the night of March 6, 2007, and into next morning, March 7. As a result of the over-application, on March 7, 2007 the wastewater flowed off of the field, through a series of drainage tiles, into Kreisel Ditch and subsequently into Tymochtee Creek. Both OFE and Mr. Lawler were charged with negligently violating the Clean Water Act. The charge against Mr. Lawler is still pending.

"Violations by concentrated animal feeding operations are an EPA national enforcement priority because of their potential to pollute the waters of the United States," said Randall Ashe, Special Agent in Charge for EPA Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. "Companies like Ohio Fresh Eggs, that risk harming our environment by deciding to 'cut corners' and break the law, will be prosecuted."

This case was prosecuted by United States Department of Justice, United States Attorney, Northern District of Ohio, following an investigation by the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division; the Ohio Attorney General's Office, Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation; and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, all members of the Northwest Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force.

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