Protecting the Environment
For immediate release - Friday, February 8, 2002.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.
Statement of the Attorney General's Office
Regarding Criminal and Civil Cases Filed February 7, 2002, Naming Sunrise Dairy Farms, LLC, of Benton County.
Des Moines. A criminal trial information and a civil lawsuit both were filed late Thursday, Feb. 7, in Benton County District Court in Vinton. The two actions are separate, but they arise from some of the same manure-discharge water pollution incidents.
The defendant in both the civil and criminal actions is Sunrise Dairy Farms, LLC, a confinement dairy cattle feeding and milking operation located south of Blairstown in Benton County. The facility houses and feeds about 2,850 dairy cattle in roofed enclosures.
The Criminal Trial Information:
The criminal charges allege that on four separate dates in 2001 Sunrise Dairy knowingly and unlawfully discharged manure into waters of the state (July 12, August 25, November 11, and November 14, 2001.)
The alleged offenses are aggravated misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 per count on four counts. The criminal trial information was filed jointly by Benton County Attorney David C. Thompson and the Area Prosecutions Division of Attorney General Tom Miller's Office.
The Civil Lawsuit:
The civil petition seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief arising from wastewater discharge and manure handling violations alleged at the dairy cattle facility. The suit alleges at least nine days of illegal manure discharge in 2001 resulting in water quality standard violations in two streams, Coon Creek, a tributary of the Iowa River, and Prairie Creek, a tributary of the Cedar River. The petition alleges illegal discharges on at least June 30, July 1, July 2, July 12, August 25, November 10, November 11, November 14, and November 15, 2001. Waters at times were observed to be black, septic, and containing highly toxic levels of ammonia-nitrogen.
The petition alleges that illegal discharges were the result of various circumstances including a broken manure pipe, a plugged manure pipe, and runoff of manure that had been land-applied to fields. Two of the discharges were not reported by Sunrise Dairy to the DNR, as required by law. The suit alleges other violations related to manure handling, failure to obtain required construction permits, and "freeboard" violations (permissible levels of manure basins.)
The suit asks the Court to order civil penalties up to $5000 per day per violation and to issue injunctions prohibiting any further violations and requiring compliance will all statutes, rules and permits governing confinement feeding operations.
The civil lawsuit was filed by the Attorney General's Environmental Law Division in cooperation with the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, which investigated the matter. The matter was referred to the Attorney General's Office by the Environmental Protection Commission. The Attorney General's Office expects to file a motion to stay (defer) the civil action pending the criminal proceedings.
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Point of Clarification:
Sunrise Dairy Farms, LLC is NOT related to Sunrise Beiff Feedlot, LLC [correct spelling], Sunrise Energy Coop, Inc., and Wayne Newton. (Sunrise Beiff and Sunrise Energy are located in the same vicinity on Sunrise Road, but are not related.) The Attorney General filed criminal charges against Sunrise Beiff, Sunrise Energy and Wayne Newton last July in connection with alleged pollution discharges. Sunrise Energy pled guilty in December and was sentenced Dec. 20 to pay fines totaling $32,500 and to fulfill other terms. The Wayne Newton and Sunrise Beiff Feedlot cases are set for trial on March 25.
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