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Miller files lawsuit against Golden Oval Eggs

DES MOINES — Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller filed an environmental enforcement lawsuit last week alleging water pollution violations by Golden Oval Eggs, LLC, the owner and operator of an egg-production facility with a capacity of 5.7 million chickens.

The lawsuit was filed at Winnebago County District Court in Forest City. Golden Oval’s 22-barn facility is located near Thompson.

The suit alleges that Golden Oval has committed numerous and repeated violations of the discharge limits contained in its permit issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Despite three Notices of Violations issued by the DNR, the violations have continued, the suit alleges.

The suit seeks penalties for violations during April, May and September of 2005; every month except November in 2006; and January and February of 2007. Violations are punishable by a civil penalty up to $5,000 per day per violation.

Wastewater from the "egg-breaking" facility is discharged to a drainage ditch that runs into Pike Run Creek, a tributary of the Winnebago River. Golden Oval’s discharge permit with DNR imposes discharge limits, including biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, and ammonia-nitrogen. It also requires proper operation and maintenance to ensure compliance, and requires Golden Oval to sample the discharge and submit monthly reports with results of monitoring to the DNR.

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The suit alleges numerous violations of its permit by Golden Oval.

Last week, Golden Oval Eggs, LLC, said it is continuing to work with the attorney general and DNR to resolve the compliance issues.

"This matter has had and will continue to have the full attention of Golden Oval’s management team until it is resolved to the DNR’s satisfaction," said Dana Persson, Golden Oval’s president and chief executive officer. "We regret that these problems related to operation of our wastewater treatment facility have occurred. As the problems developed, Golden Oval’s operations team continually discussed and attempted different approaches in consultation with DNR to resolve the compliance issues, and several methods have been implemented."

Persson said that to correct the problems in the interim, Golden Oval has been trucking waste to state-approved disposal facilities since last November and working with the DNR and environmental engineers to find a more permanent resolution to the problem.

Last year, with approval of the DNR, Golden Oval added several surface aerators to increase the treatment capacity of the lagoon cells, Persson said. A recent DNR inspection report states that the system is improving as a result of these changes.

Biological Oxygen Demand effluent permit levels have not been exceeded since October.

"We have been taking interim actions to improve our facility’s influent and effluent loads to ensure compliance," said Persson. "At the same time, we have worked with our engineers to develop a permanent solution through capital improvements to the wastewater facility to ensure year-round system compliance. We have met with the DNR and presented our plan to construct permanent wastewater improvements on an aggressive timetable."

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