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Protecting the Environment

For immediate release - Monday, March 15, 2004.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Lawsuit Alleges Water Pollution and Hog Confinement Violations at Audubon County Facilities Operated by Lawrence Handlos

AUDUBON. Attorney General Tom Miller and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources have filed an environmental protection lawsuit against Lawrence Handlos alleging water pollution, and violation of livestock confinement requirements at several Handlos hog confinement facilities in Audubon County.

The suit alleges that Handlos owns and operates nine confinement feeding operations in Audubon County with a total capacity of 49,600 hogs. The suit alleges violations at eight of the sites.

According to the lawsuit, violations at Handlos facilities include:

  • A manure spill of over 7,000 gallons at one site. The spill occurred when a manure hose slipped off an unattended manure pump causing manure to spill. Some of the manure eventually discharged into a tributary of the East Branch of the West Nishnabotna River.
  • Failure to submit complete manure management plans for seven of the nine Handlos facilities. The plans are required to identify the location of areas for land application of manure, the number of acres available for such application, and total nitrogen to be applied.
  • Failure to install drainage tile to insure that the groundwater table is below the manure storage structures at five Handlos facilities. Handlos has not complied with DNR directives to install the drainage systems.
  • Failure to comply with storm water discharge requirements at five Handlos facilities, including failure to implement a pollution prevention plan.
  • Failure to obtain construction permits for expansion of three Handlos facilities.
  • Land application of 700,000 gallons of manure at one Handlos facility without an approved manure management plan.

The lawsuit was filed Friday afternoon in Audubon County District Court in Audubon. It seeks civil penalties up to $5,000 per violation. The suit also asks the Court to order Handlos to remedy the alleged violations, and to remove animals at most of the sites until he has obtained required construction permits, installed required drainage tiles, and complied with other terms sought by the lawsuit.

The suit says that on Dec. 5, 2003, Iowa DNR staff investigated a manure spill of over 7,000 gallons at the "4A King Farm" site owned and operated by Handlos. The manure was being pumped out of the pit below a confinement building for land application. The pump did not have a safety device to shut off automatically in the event the hose became disconnected, and Handlos employees did not monitor the pump during the land application, according to the suit. The manure flowed into a surface water intake, and eventually some of the manure discharged into a tributary of the East Branch of the West Nishnabotna River, the suit alleged.

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Copy of the lawsuit petition filed March 12, 2004.