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CAFO construction site inspection finds runoff

CAFO construction site inspection finds runoff

October 26th, 2018 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

JUNE 20018 FILE: Earth-moving equipment and mud eventually will be replaced by 10,000 sows at the future site of Callaway Farrowing. Ground has been broken on the confined animal feeding operation after years of legal battles.

Photo by Helen Wilbers /News Tribune.

KINGDOM CITY — The battle over a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) construction site continues.

A nearby resident's report of a potential violation led to a Missouri Department of Natural Resources inspection at the future home of Callaway County Farrowing. The construction site is near Kingdom City.

Conducted Aug. 29, the inspection uncovered violations related to runoff control, according to DNR documents.

Jeff Jones, a farmer and opponent of the planned CAFO, made the initial complaint Aug. 29. Jones pointed out the DNR doesn't regularly inspect CAFO facilities.

"(They depend) on continuous citizen complaints to know if CAFO operations are not following the rules," Jones said. "This puts the burden on citizens, not CAFO operators, to assure compliance."

DNR inspector Joe Bowdish surveyed the site with Tom Messenger, a wean-finish manager for Eichelberger Farms, which will own the completed Callaway Farrowing LLC facility. The operating permit for the site (named Callaway County Farrowing) currently is held by PSCO LLC, owned by Josh Lehenbauer.

Don Lehenbauer, of PSCO LLC, who previously has stated he's working as a "dirt contractor" on the site, arrived toward the end of the inspection. He did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The inspector noted the following violations of the operating permit, the Missouri Clean Water Law and Clean Water Commission regulations in a Sept. 25 report:

First, a failure to design, install and maintain effective erosion and sediment controls.

Second, a failure to develop and implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan.

Third, a failure to maintain a record of weekly site inspections.

Fourth, a failure to provide a drainage area.

"No actual water quality violations were observed during that inspection," Bowdish said Thursday.

Bowdish observed stormwater was flowing away from the site at the time of the inspection and appeared turbid. More than 10 acres of disturbed area drained to the northeast corner of the site, which lacked a sediment basin. He could not, however, spot any discoloration at a nearby lake — which he viewed from a distance because of mud and dense vegetation.

Issues such as these are "unfortunately" fairly common at construction sites, Bowdish said.

He noted there seemed to be confusion about who was responsible for the SWPPP and inspection records.

"Lehenbauer stated that the construction contractor was responsible for those," he said. "I explained that PSCO LLC was listed as the permit owner. I explained that land disturbance permits were not transferable and, if another party should be responsible for the land disturbance activity, that party would have to obtain a new land disturbance permit for the site."

The inspector instructed the facility to submit written statements about how it will correct and prevent recurrences of each violation. Those statements were due Thursday.

Bowdish said Thursday he'd received a partial response stating Callaway County Farrowing had implemented a SWPPP and weekly inspections but still had not received a response addressing the sediment basin issue.

Whether he receives a complete response will be a significant factor in determining what kind of followup the DNR conducts, he said. As long as the issues are resolved, there are no fines associated with these violations.

"Our goal is to obtain voluntary compliance," Bowdish said.