Iowa egg farm faces legal action for wastewater spill
DES MOINES, Iowa -- One of the nation's largest egg farms, which lost millions of hens in last year's bird flu outbreak, is defending itself against legal action by the state over a wastewater spill that fouled 18 miles of stream in northwest Iow...
DES MOINES, Iowa - One of the nation’s largest egg farms, which lost millions of hens in last year’s bird flu outbreak, is defending itself against legal action by the state over a wastewater spill that fouled 18 miles of stream in northwest Iowa and killed 163,000 fish.
The Environmental Protection Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to refer Sunrise Farms to the attorney general for enforcement of violations of state laws and administrative regulations. The company owns 23 egg-laying barns near Harris designed to hold up to 8 million hens.
Violations are referred to the attorney general in more serious cases because the DNR is limited in its administrative regulations to assess a maximum $10,000 fine. The attorney general’s office can file legal action to force a company to correct problems and levy much higher fines.
Sunrise Farms is an affiliate of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sonstegard Foods.
The company hopes to get the complaints resolved and use the process to improve upon the issues raised by the DNR, Eldon McAfee, the company’s attorney, said.
“The farm was hit with avian influenza in the spring of 2015. This discharge occurred in the fall and they were dealing with production issues which they had never experienced before. That’s an underlying issue,” he said.
Sunrise Farms lost 3.8 million hens after a bird flu outbreak last April.