January 24, 2005

Land spreading manure leads to $10K fine for pig farm operation

CHATHAM-KENT, ONT-A large southwestern Ontario pig farm operation pleaded guilty last week to a charge under the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) and was fined $10,000, plus a victim fine surcharge. Between February 18 and 20, 2003, the Great Lakes Pig Company (GLPC) arranged to have manure applied by spreader to its property, which at the time was snow-covered and frozen. Milder temperatures subsequently caused the snow to melt. The melted, manure-contaminated snow migrated through the soil into a field tile which discharged to a private drain and then into a municipal drain flowing to Lake Erie. The incident was reported to the Ministry of Environment (MOE), whose staff visited the property and collected water samples. GLPC implemented its contingency plan, intercepting the field tile and digging a trench. The remaining manure was vacuumed up and returned to storage. Analysis of the water samples showed elevated biological oxygen demand (BOD) levels, indicating gross organic degradation and fecal contamination of surface water quality at the GLPC property, the tile drain and the municipal drain. Although the MOE's investigation found no actual harm to the environment as a result of the discharge, there did exist the potential for significant impairment of surface water quality. Accordingly, the company was charged under section 30(1) of the OWRA with causing or permitting the discharge of liquid pig manure that may impair the quality of the water of any waters. GLPC was previously convicted of the same offence in 1999.
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