Hancock County, Iowa,-based cattle feedlot Branstad Farms agreed to pay a $5,100 civil penalty and perform a $26,000 supplemental environmental project to settle alleged violations of the facility's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, permit, according to a news release from EPA Region 7.
Although the feedlot is owned and operated by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's brother, Monroe, both EPA and the governor's spokesman confirmed Thursday that the governor no longer has any connection to the farm, financial or otherwise.
Gov. Branstad's administration has been at the forefront in implementing the state's voluntary nutrients reduction strategy that has come under fire by environmental groups and has received the support of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
According to the EPA release, Branstad Farms did not maintain "adequate records" associated with the land application of liquid effluent and manure from its feedlot and "did not perform sampling of the materials and soil, as required by the NPDES permit."
"This settlement is the first of its kind in Region 7 concentrated animal feeding operation enforcement," EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said in a statement.
"Branstad Farms' willingness to undertake an environmental project like wetland restoration in lieu of a portion of their penalty will benefit Iowa's water quality. Wetlands provide critical habitat for plants, fish and wildlife; replenish and clean water supplies; and provide recreational opportunities."
Branstad Farms' facility has 2,500-head capacity.
"Failure to perform sampling or properly document land applications of a feedlot's manure and manure-containing process wastewater can increase the risk that crops and fields may receive excessive amounts of feedlot-related contaminants," the release said.
"Over-application can significantly increase the risk that pollutants will end up in nearby streams and water bodies."
The consent agreement is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final.
According to KCCI Television in Des Moines, Branstad Farms was fined by a Hancock County judge in 2011 in connection with a manure discharge in 2010.
According to KCCI the spill of some 900,000 gallons of manure flowed to a drainage ditch and a tributary of the Winnebago River, causing elevated ammonia levels.
According to the same news report, Monroe Branstad had previously entered a consent decree that included a $10,205 civil penalty for another alleged illegal discharge in August 2008.
View the KCCI story here, http://tinyurl.com/….
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