Wednesday, September 27th, 2017
Dairy's permits approved by state
Appeal deadline is Oct. 23
By Nancy Allen
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has issued final permits to install and operate to MVP Dairy, a 4,500-head operation to be built northwest of Neptune in the St. Marys River Watershed.
The 82-acre facility, planned adjacent to Hasis Road on the south side of U.S. 33, is a partnership between VanTilburg Farms of Celina and McCarty Dairy LLC of Colby, Kansas.
Those wishing to appeal the final permits may do so by 5 p.m. Oct. 23 to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission, 77 S. High St., 17th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215. Questions on the appeal process may be directed to the commission. A copy of the appeal must be served on ODA Director David Daniels within three days after filing the appeal with the commission, according to the ODA.
About 140 people, most opposed to the dairy, packed an Aug. 8 ODA hearing in Celina to accept public comments on the facility. Outside the meeting, people carried signs calling for the boycott of Dannon Yogurt, which would buy the dairy's milk to make yogurt at its Minster facility.
Most of the concerns focused on odor, manure runoff, groundwater contamination, exhausted wells, road damage from truck traffic and decreased property values. Many opponents expressed concerns with nutrient-management issues that such a large facility might create. Many mentioned the Grand Lake Watershed's distressed status and issues with toxic blue-green algae. Some speakers criticized VanTilburg Farms management practices.
Forty-two people submitted public comments on the dairy, an ODA responsiveness summary shows. Most of the summary involved answers to questions about odor, groundwater contamination, if any of the permit applicants had previous violations, fly and pest control and manure management.
The permits cover environmental issues pertaining to water pollution control such as siting, geological exploration, facility design, construction, water quality, manure management, storm water containment runoff, insect and rodent control, mortality and emergency response.
ODA says it may deny a permit to install or operate if the applicant or any person identified by the applicant has a history of substantial noncompliance with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act; the Safe Drinking Water Act; or another applicable state or foreign law pertaining to environmental protection that would indicate that the applicant or any person identified by the applicant lacks a sufficient degree of reliability, expertise and competence to operate the facility lawfully.
Based on information from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District, ODA's Division of Animal Health and Kansas Department of Agriculture, no finding of substantial noncompliance was found.
The ODA has no authority over groundwater withdrawal. If a facility has the capacity to use greater than 100,000 gallons of groundwater per day, it is required to register with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Water Resources. MVP Dairy estimates it will use about 117,000 gallons of water daily and therefore will be required to register. ODA also says the dairy meets the relevant hydraulic conductivity and siting distance from the uppermost aquifer standards in Ohio law. The facility will be required to take an annual groundwater sample from a well at the facility once the wells are developed and analyze the sample for nitrates and total coliform bacteria. Neither state nor federal law requires any livestock facility to monitor or sample neighboring wells.
The dairy has identified specific best-management practices to minimize odor, including removal and land application of manure when wind direction is less likely to affect neighboring residences and injection and incorporation of manure when at all possible. Odor will be evaluated during routine ODA inspections and complaint investigations, according to ODA information.
Topics not under ODA regulatory control that were not answered in the summary include questions about roads, taxes, property values, facilities and concerns in the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed and other areas of Mercer County, air quality, general concerns about the ODA's Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting, U.S. EPA regulations, broad comments about harmful algal blooms, noise, lights and other comments not directed toward Ohio laws or the ODA as they relate to state-permitted animal facilities.
MVP officials had said construction is planned to start in early summer and the dairy would be operational by spring 2018. Some earthmoving work already has begun at the site.