LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The state Department of Environmental Quality denied a northern Arkansas hog farm’s request for a new operating permit in the Buffalo National River’s watershed.
The department cited a lack of critical information provided in C&H Hog Farms’ permit application in their announcement Wednesday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
C&H Hog Farms applied almost two years ago for a new permit on liquid animal waste systems for the farm near Mount Judea. The farm has been operating on an indefinite extension of its expired permit.
The farm’s attorney, Bill Waddell, called the permit denial “incomprehensible.” He said the farmers made every effort to ensure the department received the necessary information.
Waddell said he plans to appeal the department’s decision. The farm has 30 days to appeal.
Farm officials said they sought to increase the number of on-site hogs but didn’t anticipate a difference in the amount of waste produced.
The new permit estimated that two waste-holding ponds would contain almost 2.35 million gallons of hog manure, which is similar to what is currently contained. Additional waste and wastewater would have been used as fertilizer over certain areas.
Several groups opposed C&H Hog Farms because they feared the operation is an environmental risk to the Buffalo River due to the amount of manure the farm produces.
Richard Mays is an attorney who has represented the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance in its opposition to the hog farm’s operation. Mays said he hopes the denial will lead to more caution over issuing permits to hog farms in the future.
“You need to be very careful about where you locate them and how they’re built,” he said. “You need to be cautious about protecting the environment, because it can ruin it very quickly.”