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Friday, October 8, 2010

You're not going to believe this one...

There has been fighting in these parts for about 2 years now, every since a huge mega dairy (read: yucky contained animal feedlot) bought up 1400 acres and has been trying to get operations running.

A group of locals banned together and fought against it, and they've had the whole thing tied up in court ever since.  However, construction has continued at the mega dairy site, about 30 miles from my home.  Now this.  It was an article in our local newspaper this week.  The retention ponds (aka massive manure pits) are PURPLE (there are no animals here yet, so obviously there is something chemical going on....?)  Here is the article, make sure you're not eating anything while you read!  :-)

Purple waters flow at dairy

EPA agents respond to unknown discharge at Traditions site



A leachate pond constructed at the proposed Traditions Dairy property southwest of Nora contained an unidentified purple liquid last week. The liquid found its way into a nearby tributary of the Apple River, prompting state and federal environmental agents, and Jo Daviess emergency personnel, to respond to the site.


More Photos

By Eric Petermann
Posted Oct 05, 2010 @ 07:53 PM

State and federal environmental agents responded last week to the proposed Traditions Dairy property where an unidentified purple liquid was discharging into a tributary of the Apple River.
Water samples are currently being tested after they were collected at the property on Friday and Monday, reported Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) spokesperson Maggie Carson.
Carson said there was no reason for residents living near the property, or homeowners in nearby Nora, to be concerned about their water quality.
“We’re urging people to take the normal precautions and to report evidence of contamination to the IEPA,” Carson said.
A neighbor to the property, Steve Holesinger, said he noticed a purple haze in the water Friday morning when he decided to go fishing. Holesinger said he moved his cows to another pasture to prevent them from drinking from the tributary.
Initial reports of the discharge prompted representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the IEPA, the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Department and the Jo Daviess County Hazmat Team to respond to the property.
Workers at Traditions Dairy and a local excavating company constructed two dikes and two detention ponds to divert the tributary and collect the purple water. Liquid from both ponds was then pumped into large tanker trucks and moved to nearby fields where it was knifed into the soil. One detention pond was constructed just west of Mamosser Road, about one-half mile south of East Canyon Road. A second pond was built near the head waters of the tributary, just east of the silage pad at the Traditions Dairy property.
Don Manning, attorney for the property owner, A.J. Bos, said he learned of the discharge on Friday afternoon.
“It should be noted that the response to this situation was immediate,” Manning said. “A.J. and those working at the property did everything that was asked of them by the environmental agencies, and more, to address this as soon as they learned about it.”
Manning argued the discharge may have been prevented if construction of Traditions Dairy had been completed two years ago. The project was stopped after a local group, Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards (HOMES), obtained a temporary injunction from the 15th Judicial Circuit Court on Oct. 20, 2008.
“You have to remember this is a construction site, not a fully functioning dairy farm. If construction had been allowed to proceed, then the design of the property may have prevented this from happening,” Manning said.
Possible Source
Speculation by those familiar with the situation point to the corn silage being stored at the 1,400-acre property as a possible source for the discharge. A press release issued Saturday by HOMES said the discharge was “believed to be due to an overflowing silage leachate pond.”
Manning said the leachate pond at the property did not overflow.
“If this is traced to, or connected with, the silage and the handling of liquids coming from the silage, then the matter could have been avoided altogether had HOMES not interfered with the construction of the dairy,” Manning said.
Matthew Alschuler, a spokesman for HOMES, reported that the pumping operation at the containment ponds continued on Saturday past midnight and into early Sunday morning.
“Although they are using several vehicles to transport this oddly-colored liquid onto fields, over 36 hours has passed since they started work,” Alschuler said in an e-mail Sunday afternoon.
Dike Removed
Monday morning, the dike constructed south of the dairy property was removed once the water feeding that area returned to clear and colorless.
“Everyone keeps asking why the water (was) the color of Barney,” Alschuler said, “but none of the local farmers or engineers we’ve consulted with can explain. They don’t know of any naturally occurring compounds that would turn leachate the color of Kool-Aid.”
Carson said she anticipates the IEPA will complete its testing of the water by the end of this week.
“It usually takes several days for these tests to be completed,” Carson said.
Construction on Hold
Manning said construction at the Traditions Dairy property is less than one-half completed, and building will not resume until after an appeal filed by HOMES has been settled. On Dec. 23, 2009, Judge Kevin Ward of the 15th Judicial Circuit Court, removed the injunction and ruled against the objections presented by HOMES. That decision resulted in an appeal by the environmental group to the 2nd Appellate Court in Elgin, which has yet to render a decision on the matter.
Manning said he was angered by the reaction of HOMES representatives after news of the discharge became public on Friday.
“We are also distressed, at best, by the apparent pleasure HOMES and its representatives have taken, with their references to ‘Barney’ and their myriad of press releases and fly-overs. It appears to me personally that HOMES is hoping for some sort of release — and I find that repugnant.” Manning said.


  1. Hi Penny,

    I've been following this issue for many years. I hate CAFOs. I find the comment "if the construction had been allowed to proceed this wouldn't have happened" absolutely appalling.

  2. I agree w/the above how that lawyer Manning tried to pin this back on the environmental group!!! And I'm completely miffed at how this water was dispersed before the test results were conclusive. Can we say widespread contamination??!!! Unbelievable.
    Thanks for sharing here--I caught a little bit of it on the local news but basically missed the whole story.

  3. It also upsets me that the water was dispersed. Out of sight, out of mind. There is so much corruption in the CAFO industry (and the governing boards that are supposed to control them)