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05-09-03: Ohio EPA fines Fort Recovery farmer $40,986
Dairy operation polluted the Wabash River twice last year

The Daily Standard
    A Fort Recovery dairy farmer has been fined $40,986 by the Ohio EPA as a result of two pollution incidents at his dairy farm last year.
    The case involving Mike Fullenkamp, 707 St. Joe Road, Fort Recovery, now may be referred to the Ohio Attorney's General's Office for enforcement, because Fullenkamp has refused to work with the Environmental Protection Agency, an EPA official said Thursday. The EPA is willing to negotiate on the fine if the violator will make the necessary changes to ensure the pollution does not occur again - something Fullenkamp is unwilling to do, the official said.
    The fine against Fullenkamp stems from two incidents last year at his dairy farm that polluted the Wabash River in Fort Recovery. Both were investigated by local Division of Wildlife and Ohio EPA officials. One of the pollution incidents killed more than 11,000 fish.
    Telephone messages left at the Fullenkamp home on Thursday and today seeking comment were not returned.
    According to EPA documents, the first incident in May 2002 occurred when manure overflowed from a storage lagoon into a drainage tile that emptied into an unnamed tributary and then into the river. The second incident in August 2002 occurred when manure and corn silage leachate in an excavated trench connected to an underground tile drained into an unnamed tributary and then into the Wabash River. The trench was receiving manure-laden runoff from the heifer barn and silage leachate from recently cut and stored silage, EPA findings state.
    Rick Wilson, an environmental specialist with the Ohio EPA, said pollution incidents are handled by first sending the violator a violation letter, which includes requests for improvements through better planning via a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan or property improvements, such as increasing manure storage or fixing leaking manure pipes. The EPA sent two violation letters to Fullenkamp - one on May 16, 2002, for the May 2002 pollution incident, and the second on Sept. 10, 2002, for the August 2002 pollution incident.
    When the EPA does not see improvements or sees a lack of response to requests for improvements, it can issue proposed director's final findings and orders. The proposed findings and orders is an invitation to negotiate the request for improvements and civil penalty if there is one. This document was sent to Fullenkamp via registered mail on April 2, but came back to the EPA on April 8 because it was never picked up, Wilson said.
    During an April 14 phone conversation between Fullenkamp and an EPA attorney, Fullenkamp indicated he did not want to negotiate the findings and orders, Wilson said.
    "Based on the phone calls to this agency, he indicated he did not want to work with this agency, so it is in the process of being referred to the Ohio Attorney General," Wilson added.
    Along with the recent EPA fine and orders, Fullenkamp also was found guilty in Celina Municipal Court for a stream litter violation for the May pollution incident and has paid a fine to the Division of Wildlife for the fish kill that occurred from the August incident.
    Fullenkamp in January was assessed $77 in court costs for the stream litter charge. Before the local judge's ruling, Fullenkamp submitted to the court a letter showing he had spent more than $63,000 to repair a faulty host pipe on the manure drainage system of his lagoon. In the letter, an official from a company that did the repairs said the pipe was leaking at a majority of the joints and that the pipe originally installed was either not the correct pipe material or was incorrectly installed resulting in joint separation.
    For the fish kill, Fullenkamp paid a civil penalty of $5,407.69 to the Division of Wildlife. The August incident was classified a fish kill, because it resulted in the death of 11,789 fish and some crawdads.
    When there is a fish kill and the value of the fish is less than $50, it results in a stream litter charge brought before the local municipal court. If the value of the dead fish is $50 or more, it is classified as a fish kill and is pursued by the Division of Wildlife as a civil matter.


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