Mike Clifford Posted July 12, 2008 Report Share Posted July 12, 2008 They have just barely started site work, and the streams are already seeing the results of their work. Letters have been sent to the EPA and others, as well there is an effort in court to get the work halted. Take a close look at the photos below, and judge with your own eyes whether this is environmentally responsible. SPRINGFIELD — Earth movers dot rolling pastureland in pristine Jo Daviess County, where A.J. Bos, a California dairyman, plans to build the largest dairy farm in Illinois. If Bos successfully expands his family’s dairy business to the site in northwestern Illinois, 6,000 gallons of milk, or five semi-truck loads, will roll from there each day to milk consumers in Chicago and other nearby communities. “It’s generally in a great milk market,” said Nic Anderson, livestock business developer for the Illinois Livestock Development Group, which works to grow the Illinois livestock industry. “There is great demand for milk.” Bos won a permit for his 5,464-cow farm from the Illinois Department of Agriculture on May 30, despite claims from neighbors and a state geologist that underlying groundwater is particularly susceptible to an environmental spill. But before Bos can corral cows in confinement facilities, he must win in Jo Daviess County court, where local activists have filed a lawsuit claiming that the agriculture department ignored environmental regulations by approving the plan. The opponents fear that liquified manure will spill into the earth from one of the proposed farm’s huge retention ponds, contaminating groundwater for miles around, and they’re seeking an injunction against its construction. “This can cause an amazing amount of damage,” said Matthew Alschuler, a local businessman. “It’s a very real possibility of happening, and they’re ignoring that.” Proponents such as Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Pecatonica, call the farm economic development. They say it will help keep Illinois strong as an agricultural state. Local farmers look forward to sharing in the manure, a fertilizer high in nitrogen, flowing from the farm. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat with a keen interest in environmental matters, is weighing whether to join the case. “We have been contacted by many concerned neighbors and we have and are reviewing information about the site,” Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said. “No decisions on taking any formal legal action have been made.” A central issue is whether the bedrock under the site a mile west of tiny Nora is karst, meaning its marked by vertical fracture through which liquid might quickly travel. Sam Panno, senior geochemist at the Illinois State Geological Survey, has authored a series of reports saying Jo Daviess County bedrock is karst. He said the aquifer under the farm site “would be highly susceptible to groundwater contamination by spills/seeps of animal waste.” Alschuler said at least five other analysts similarly concluded the site is karst. But the agriculture department, relying on tests conducted by a firm commissioned by Bos, determined bedrock under the site is not karst. Warren Goetsch, the department’s Bureau Chief of Environmental Programs, said Bos was required by law to do just one boring test but that he did 20. “Based on the information that’s been gathered from the site, we’ve determined that the material underlying the site does not qualify as karst,” Goetsch said. Goetsch acknowledged that other analysts other than the one hired by Bos reported karst in the area, and he said the department considered those reports, too. “We believe that the input was provided by those various groups,” he said. “We had to take that information, plus the information provided by (Bos), and look at it through the provisions of the regulation (in law) to make our determination.” Because the department ruled out karst, Bos will be required to line manure ponds with a two-foot layer of clay, Goetsch said. Had the department decided the site was karst, Bos would be required to line those ponds with concrete or steel. Bos plans to build his barns, manure ponds and other farm facilities on 100 acres. He also purchased another 1,350 acres for crops. Bos did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Ziegler said Madigan won’t defend the Department of Agriculture, also a defendant, in the litigation. “They requested their own attorney,” she said of the department. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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