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MPCA: No further review required of Osakis-area hog feedlot

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news Alexandria, 56308

Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

A detailed environmental study will not be required for the proposed Gourley Brothers Hog Feedlot in Todd County.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Citizens' Board voted last week to approve a negative declaration on the need for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed swine facility.

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The project's scope required an initial Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) to be completed before construction. The EAW helps determine if the project has the potential for significant environmental impact and addresses concerns with surface water quality, groundwater quality and air quality.

Part of the EAW process includes inviting public comment on the project.

During a 30-day comment period, the MPCA reportedly received 12 letters. Eleven were from local property owners expressing their opposition to the feedlot project; four letter writers asked the MPCA to require a more extensive EIS on the swine barn project.

However, the MPCA Citizens' Board concluded: "Based on this record, MPCA staff concludes that the potential environmental effects that are reasonably expected to occur from the proposed project were identified during the environmental review and will be mitigated by MPCA rule requirements and binding conditions to be placed in MPCA permits, including the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System Permit, as well as other state and local regulations and ordinances that apply to the proposed project. MPCA staff further concludes that, based on the analysis presented in the proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order, and evidence in the record of this proceeding, the proposed project does not have the potential for significant environmental effects and the preparation of an EIS is not warranted."

THE PROJECT

Gourley Brothers, LLC is proposing a feedlot that will house 3,980 hogs on a 10-acre section of land in Leslie Township.

The confinement barn will be 230 feet by 424 feet long and includes plans for a 12-foot deep, below-barn concrete liquid manure storage area with a capacity of 8,750,000 gallons.

According to the MPCA, all manure generated at the site will be applied to designated crop land after fall harvest.

Lake Osakis is located approximately 3.6 miles from the proposed livestock facility, and the closest proposed manure application site is about 1.3 miles from the lake, according to the MPCA.

The feedlot will require permits from:

--MPCA for construction and operation requirements, and includes operating plans that address manure management, emergency response protocols and odor/air quality management.

--Todd County conditional use permit to determine whether the proposed project meets the criteria of Todd County's Land Use Ordinance.

--DNR water appropriation permit to ensure water resources are managed so that adequate supply is provided to long-range seasonal requirements for domestic, agricultural, fish and wildlife, recreational, power, navigational, and quality control. A new well will be drilled for the project.

RESIDENTS REACT

Dorothy Snyder of Leslie Township opposes the hog barn operation and lives about one mile from the proposed site.

She submitted a letter to the MPCA on her neighbors' behalf in August and noted: "...some of us own wetland bordering Dismal Creek, which empties into the Long Prairie River, and most of us live on roads with potential increased truck traffic. With the potential odor/air quality at the time of agitation, pump out and distribution, the fact that no notice will be given to us as neighbors is also disconcerting."

After the MPCA board's decision on October 22, Snyder said: "I was disappointed that the MPCA Citizens' Board disagreed with the concerns of so many individuals regarding the location of this proposed 4,000 hog feedlot from Iowa. One of our concerns was the close proximity of some of the manure distribution sites to Dismal Creek and the Long Prairie River for the annual 5 million gallons of liquid manure [application].

"My concern is for all the unsuspecting people in Todd, Douglas and surrounding counties who may end up with this type of corporate facility in their backyards, too.

"We, as neighbors, are not against farming; we are not against hog feedlots from Iowa coming to Todd County. We are against this particular proposed site - with six neighbors within a half-mile, 14 within a mile - and manure distribution sites in close proximity to waterways," Snyder said.

Sherry Kutter of Grey Eagle also submitted a letter to the MPCA.

When asked for her reaction, she noted concerns about potential diseases and bacteria, nearby road maintenance and repair funding and, "...if approved, Todd County will be following a dinosaur industry that is short-lived at best and a disaster at worst."

Local residents Jane and Ron Schmid stated: "We are very disappointed with the MPCA decision. All the theorizing as to how waste and air quality will be problem-free has apparently been accepted by the MPCA. However, we have our Todd County Board of Commissioners to put a stop to this conditional use permit proposal. We are confident the commissioners know how the residents they represent feel about a corporate swine feedlot."

A representative from Gourley Brothers LLC, based in Webster City, Iowa, was not available for comment.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Randy Neumann is the Todd County commissioner representing the district where the feedlot is proposed to be built.

He said it's likely the Todd County Board of Commissioners will review the project for a conditional use permit during the board's November 6 meeting.

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