What a Load of Manure

Everything has to go somewhere and fortunately for all of us, even crap has its uses. We used to just dump it. No more. Biosolids are being increasingly well used in agriculture and forestry. Of course, the use of manure on farms predates civilization itself. Who would have thought manure could make a farm at toxic waste superfund site? Next time you see a cow or horse, be afraid, be very afraid.

It seems like a joke, but it's not. It is a kind of slow motion crisis where activists threaten to destroy an important way of natural recycling in order to expand their power and shakedown farmers, ranchers and foresters. The fix is simple. Congress never intended the Superfund law to apply to the nation's farms and forests, but it did not did not specifically exempt animal waste because nobody anticipated the mendacity of entrepreneurial activists and lawyers. A bipartisan bill to correct this oversight has already been introduced in the House and a companion bill with bipartisan support is about to be introduced in the Senate.

The House bill is HR 4341 (Look it up on LOC Thomas). The relevant part is below:

(a) In General- Upon the date of enactment of this section, manure shall not be included in the meaning of "hazardous substance" under section 101(14) of this Act or `pollutant or contaminant' under section 101(33) of this Act.

Mention it to your representatives. Let's just get this done and cut the crap. Everything has to go somewhere. Be sure it is going were it will do good.

Posted by Jack at June 12, 2006 5:13 PM
Comment #156854

Forgive me for saying this, but what a load of bullshit!

E. Coli, Salmonella, various parasites- These are among the diseases which show up in animal wastes.

Also, I’m sure that if somebody told you that there was fecal content in your drinking water, you’d switch to bottled water. Solid waste is not to be sniffed at, for more reasons than one.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 12, 2006 5:34 PM
Comment #156857

What is an “entrepreneurial activist”? I think I’ll be one of them when I grow up. Is there good money in it?

Posted by: David S at June 12, 2006 5:39 PM
Comment #156858


Manure can be harmful. It is sewerage. It is also a fertilizer that has been around for centuries. But a TOXIC waste requiring SUPERFUND? We can get those guys in moon suits to pick up Fido’s turds. It is just way over the top. I am sure we have more urgent problems.

There are plenty of regulations that apply to manure and how to get rid of big quantities. Using biosolids requires EPA permits. But if we start making superfund sites out of cow yard, we sure have gone off the deep end.

BTW - I drink tap water. I am not so paranoid about things like that. A certain amount of crap hurts nobody. It gives your water a bit more body and a fruity or nutty taste. Come ON. Be serious. This cannot really scare you enough to want a superfund site.

Posted by: Jack at June 12, 2006 5:43 PM
Comment #156860


Plenty of money. First you identify someone who has money and maybe no lawyer. Then you find something you can scare people about. YOu often don’t need to sue. Just intimidate and get a pay off.

Posted by: Jack at June 12, 2006 5:44 PM
Comment #156865

“It is just way over the top. I am sure we have more urgent problems.”

Come visit the eastern part of NC. we have hog farms with waste pools that go back 40 or 50 years. The sludge from these pools was the greatest immediate threat during hurricane Floyd. It is also one of the single largest threats to our waterways in NC. Just because it’s natural - just because it can be useful in small quantities does not mean that it is not harmful.

Think about other fertlizers farmers can use. Could you maybe blow up a building with it? This can be extremely dangterous crap.

Posted by: tony at June 12, 2006 5:54 PM
Comment #156866

What you fail to take account of are these huge factory farms around the country that produce this manure and other wastes in immense ammounts. Heck, you get a lot of the nitrogen wastes (nice way of saying urine) in one place, and you can have a real fun time. In the wake of Hurricane Hugo, it was one of the principal means by which rivers and lakes were polluted.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 12, 2006 5:55 PM
Comment #156872

I have a story to tell on how dangerous crap is.

It seems that Sen. Ted Kennedy went to an Indian reservation to speak. While he was speaking, every now and then the group would shout HOYA, HOYA.
After the speaking was done Sen. Kennedy toured the fields of the Indian Tribe. The chief warned the senator where to step and not step in the HOYA.

It fits.

Posted by: tomh at June 12, 2006 6:11 PM
Comment #156890

Hey -

if it’s powerful enough to run the most powerful country in the free world…

Damn - handle with care!

Posted by: tony at June 12, 2006 7:00 PM
Comment #156894

From the second link:

Among the rhetoric the activist group used was this: “Small farms are being replaced by industrial-like facilities that confine thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of animals in small areas. As a result, factory farms produce an estimated 500 million tons of manure every year – three times the amount of waste the human population of the U.S. produces. Dumped into pits and onto the land, manure emits health-threatening quantities of toxic gases into the air as it decomposes. Spills and runoff of manure from factory farms can destroy rivers and contaminate downstream communities’ drinking water supplies.”

Are you aware of any evidence that what the proponents of the use of the law against livestock produces are saying is or isn’t true? I notice the link never addresses the arguments, except to label it as rhetoric. Anecdotally, I know that such events do occur. How common they are and how much of a threat to others they pose is not clear to me.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at June 12, 2006 7:03 PM
Comment #156910

Stephen & Mental

Manure in big operations should be regulated. But it should not be a Federal case and it should not be treated as toxic waste.

We have a solution to the problem and it fits nicely. Concentrated excess manure is a local problem. You need to process it and spread it out. When it is spread out it is a benefit.

For example, you can spread the manure on pasture or forest land. In the latter case, you can then thin your trees and make biofuels. It does not get RID or manure; it makes it into a benefit for all.

If you start to treat manure like a toxic chemical, you will make that impossible or very difficult. Many landowners are happy to get biosolids for their land. But if you call it a toxic waste, they will fear to use it. Nobody wants his farm to be called a toxic waste site.

So this is another in a long line of regulations that will cause harm to both rural economies and our environment.

The thing about acivists using laws is that they can intimidate. I am a landowner. I want to use biosolids to help my trees grow and do something postive for the environment, but if I feel there is a chance of my land being declared toxic - even a very small chance - I won’t do it. As a result the trees will not grow as well and you will have to dispose of the waste in a wasteful way. You probably will have to pay some big firm to take care of it. That is what the activist really want. Then they can shakesdown the big firms.

Manure is not a toxic waste. Even in the worst case spill, what you get is temporary pollution and destruction followed by luxuriant growth. Or put another way if you spill a toxic chemical and come back ten years later, it might still be toxic. If you spill manure and come back ten years later all you will have is bigger plants.

Posted by: Jack at June 12, 2006 7:40 PM
Comment #156913


I understand now. You are afraid. I don’t think that the idea is to make the use of manure as fertilizer illegal. I think it is to prevent the spillage of large amounts into water tables, leading to contamination from E. coli and other coliform bacteria with pathogenic potential. It is also to prevent nuisance hazards that render residential zones uninhabitable. But as a good conservative, you are right to be suspicious of the potential abuse of your rights by the government. *snark*Much like you are suspicious of how the administration might use its warrantless wiretapping power. I think that is a perfectly consistent position, although I might disagree as a wild-eyed liberal.*/snark*

Posted by: Mental Wimp at June 12, 2006 7:47 PM
Comment #156917


You are right. I am afraid of these sorts of regulations. When I bought my land, I had to hire a lawyer to certify there was no toxic waste. Toxic waste was defined as a place where people had dumped some gasoline or old batteries. All I need is to have manure called toxic. If noting else, the deer and turkeys crap all over the place.

Most landowners are afraid. And they have reasons. Toxic waste is not a term you can compromise. All I ask is that you not call natural manure a toxic waste. You can call it sewerage. That is regulated in the old fashioned way. And believe me that I care about my land more than the Federal government does.

Posted by: Jack at June 12, 2006 7:56 PM
Comment #156925


I suppose that’s what the courts are for, to ensure that the laws are applied and fairly so. It requires that they be carefully and deliberately written, something I don’t think always happens. I’m not familiar with the details of the Superfund law, so I can’t help you with that, but I share your anxieties about misapplication of well intended law. I would hate to see such a “green” practice as the one you describe stifled by misguided use of an equally well intentioned law.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at June 12, 2006 8:15 PM
Comment #156932

I try to stay out of the courts. I want the law to be clear and conservative (small c). I don’t want clever lawyers to be able to create new liablities out of something as prosaic as manure.

You know in daily life mistakes are made. Maybe you dump a little too much and it kills some fish. There are rules about that and if you cause enough damage you might have to pay for it. But the toxic waste idea means penalties way out of line with the damage. Spreading manure or spraying biosolids should not threaten your life savings.

Posted by: Jack at June 12, 2006 8:26 PM
Comment #156940

No matter how ridiculous the matter, you can count on the socialists to crawl out of the woodwork to support it. Anything to bankrupt the haves is ok with you nerds. Another law to justify the existence of the all powerfull protector of us all. The only troublesome thing here is that idiots like you are allowed to publish your crap. You guys shouldn’t mind a little shit in your water; your full of it anyway.

Posted by: jc at June 12, 2006 9:03 PM
Comment #156945

jc -

So that’s your argument? 10 insults and not a single fact. Thanks, that shed light on the problem.

Posted by: tony at June 12, 2006 9:10 PM
Comment #156976

Why not insults? I am insulted by the sickening sight of these people. In my estimation anyone not condemming their behavior is as bad as they are. You can sit around and discuss the problem all you want, but it all goes back to the condoning of this sick practice by the courts and the legislature. Can you imagine some poor little boy growing up in a “family of these degenerates. How much chanch do you give him to become a real man? There are plenty of you guys speaking up for the “rights” of these perverts but no one seems to be looking out for the childern who are subected to their twisted practices.

Posted by: jc at June 12, 2006 9:51 PM
Comment #156977


You may be in the wrong thread. Unless you feel that spreading manure in pastures and forests is a twisted practice.

This post is about biosolids.

Posted by: Jack at June 12, 2006 9:54 PM
Comment #156990

When I was in fifth grade our teacher who lived on a farm had her water tested. It was full of fecal matter. That was in the gentile hills of southern Ohio. My family is mostly from eastern Kentucky. Most of the farms there had wells near their houses,in the hollows, with the cattle grazing the hills. I’m quite sure their well water was contaminated. It always smelled strongly of sulfur and was so hard it often stained clothing (due to sulphur and coal deposits). Most people shared drinking ladels at water wells. The old farmers were so happy to get city water that was treated and flouridated and could wash clothes and didn’t smell of sulphur.

Until WWII sanitation was not a well understood problem, in hospitals surgery was not even performed in sterile conditions. Many people died of sepsis.

The good old days weren’t always that good. Fecal contamination is still a worldwide problem. Don’t drink the water in Mexico.

Posted by: gergle at June 12, 2006 10:28 PM
Comment #156991

Buddy, I hear you, but that wasn’t exactly a smooth transition from poop to perverts. Perhaps if you had included something along the line of “first we grind the little child raping pervo (and his lawyer, his shrink and his overly well intentioned social worker) into large, meaty chunks. Then we mix it with some the endless poo coming out of both parties in washington, stir in a few talaban jerk offs from Guantamano and finnally, eject the growth influencing efluvia (bio solid) over a few economically distraught peanut farms in Georgia. Growth will be both immediate and profound and you will be proud to know that something useful has finnally come from the Talaban, the American Left, the American Right and child molesters. Think of it, JC! You’ll be a hero to everyone!

Posted by: HardHatHarry at June 12, 2006 10:31 PM
Comment #156994

This could very well prove to be the most worthless Congress in history.

Posted by: KDTEXAS at June 12, 2006 10:37 PM
Comment #156995


We can, should and do regulate sewerage and manure. The difference is calling it toxic waste, which under our superfund rules can trigger disastrous consequences.

If you treat manure like plutonium, you cannot use it properly. And if we don’t use it properly, it is an ecological disaster.

Posted by: Jack at June 12, 2006 10:37 PM
Comment #156996

Oh…and Stephen, chill out. Usually when people start naming waterborne bacteria they have no real concept of the multimillion dollar processing plants all around the country and what they are capable of. Heck, even ground water from deep wells are relatively safe, providing you use an inline filtration system (the one on most modern well pumps is more than adequate).I have a little expertise in this field.
Your drinking water is among the best and safest in the world, no matter where in America you live. Europe envies us our clean water, really. There is a reason they drink their water out of bottles…and its not because of a slick marketing campaign aimed squarely at the heads of not so bright Americans willing to shell out 2 bucks for…water!!! The same water that came out of your tap.

Posted by: HardHatHarry at June 12, 2006 10:38 PM
Comment #157003

The question here is all in the definition. How much, in what way, in what condition, as part of what kind of business, etc. To say that the only solution is not to regulate at all is to be shortsighted in one’s approach.

Do you feel better now that you’ve vented?

You don’t want crap in water, human or animal.
There are a whole load of diseases out there that come from fecal contamination that you better hope you never get.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 12, 2006 10:50 PM
Comment #157004

Those wonderful processing plants only handle the shit (literally speaking) that comes out of our sewers.

It does nothing for the runoff or contact forms of contamination. Maybe you should read about the case of the unpasteurized orange juice at Disney World that gave people Salmonella.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 12, 2006 10:53 PM
Comment #157031

Hey I got a dumb idea, why don’t we just irradiate it, or autoclave it to kill all the bad stuff (bacteria) then use it as nature intended? oops too easy. As far a superfund? that money has been wasted in far worse ways

Posted by: 037 at June 12, 2006 11:40 PM
Comment #157038

Wow, I’m glad my Dad isn’t the one who had to read this article…

Well —- Jack said it himself: What a load of manure!!!
Clearly Jack doesn’t understand the concept of a run-off poison and/or organic organisms which can seep into the watertable — and from there have the potential to make vast numbers of people sick? Sewage can be as lethal as any other toxin, Jack. Surely you know this?

Posted by: Adrienne at June 12, 2006 11:53 PM
Comment #157049

So what do the enviro wackos want me to do? Put diapers on my cattle? Probably on my hog and chickens too? I got news for y’all. It’s not only stupid but also impossible.

All this crap is is another attempt at control of private property. The wackos don’t like for folks to own anything. Unless it’s themselves.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 13, 2006 12:26 AM
Comment #157053

Ron Brown:
You can find a list of demands by activists by going to their sites. You might not agree with them, but their ideas are alot better than “diapers on cows”.

It takes about two seconds to find a group that is trying to do something about the impact that these industries have on the environment. Most of the time these organizations encourage people to find out what there local government is doing and get involved. They encourage people to do their duty as citizens, and they all get labeled “wackos” because of a minority of easily swayed drug using young people and militant activists.

Ron unless you have hundreds of thousands of pigs or cattle on a small amount of land you are not even in the same category of these ranchers. My grandparents own a couple of cows and hundreds of sheep but they also range on 500 acres of land, we are talking about scale here.

Jack good topic. I personally wish it were a matter of the death of a “few fish” and that it could be solved by paying a fine. That would ensure that the people in this industry apply the latest technology to insure that their business does not have an adverse affect on our environment. I just dont think it works like that.

Posted by: stopculture at June 13, 2006 12:57 AM
Comment #157067

I just dug in 100 lbs. of cow manure into my clay soil topping my septic area. A couple years ago I dug in a couple hundred lbs. for a green belt to rear of our house. I waited a couple years before doing the septic area deliberately. Reason: Nitrogen contamination. We have a wet weather creek that barrels through the length of our 5 acre property during rainy periods, and it emptys into a recreational and drinking water supply lake 8 miles away called Canyon Lake, built by the Army Corps of Engineers.

We have a well for our household water needs that taps into an aquifer. Hence we take contamination of that water very seriously. And the Friends of Canyon Lake, residents of this predominantly Republican County in Texas, take contamination of their drinking supply water from the lake, as well as the economic dynamo in tourism and jobs which the Lake provides, very seriously.

I am an environmental protectionist, and so are my Republican Friends of Canyon Lake, when it comes to protecting this incredible important lake which anchors the economy of our County. Protecting the environment should not be a left-right issue, and it rarely is for those who are aware of the personal harm that can be caused by lack of responsible stewardship. It becomes a left-right issue when the sources of contamination will not affect those discussing a particular locale’s problem. This is what makes corporations such an adversary of environmental protection. They don’t live, drink, and feed off the contamination of their plants and places of business by and large. They hire others to do it for them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 13, 2006 1:54 AM
Comment #157083

David Remer:

As a long time resident of Austin (16 years) I also understand the importance of a clean environment. Austin is one of the most beautiful and clean cities in Texas. For this reason business and people flock to the city to make a living.

Austin has a growing economy and population not because companies look to help protect and save the surroundings it is because the citizens of Austin demand that companies do this.

I am willing to bet that Austin is home to the most powerful activist groups in Texas. Austinites owe their beautiful city to those citizens that worked to prevent companies with no interest in our health and environment from taking those things away.

From my earlier post I said it would be nice if a fine could protect us. It can’t. Many of these companies find clever ways to avoid these fines such as absorbing them without changing policy by passing it on to the consumer.

Superfund sites, and declared toxic waste is obviously a shortsighted solution with many unintended consequences.
The way I see it, this problem of waste run off and contamination is a symptom of a much larger problem, namely food production and consumption in America.

Posted by: stopculture at June 13, 2006 3:03 AM
Comment #157085

Ron Brown-
I think it’s intellectually lazy to assume that there is no economic remedy to the pressures of environmental regulation. We make this unwise assumption, as Jared Diamond would relate in his book Collapse, that it will cost us less to simply let the problem linger.

That’s not the case. Damage to the environment doesn’t stay in one place, or keep itself simple. Once you’ve let these things occur, it’s often much more expensive to clean things up, than it would have been to have kept it clean in the first place. Old mines in Montana are leaching acids into the water. In Wyoming, chemicals are running off into the water that raising sodium levels sky high.

That’s not even factoring medical costs, and loss of productivity.

Additionally, if people put their minds to it, and see the economic benefit, one could very well innovate the inventions that could help people to bring things up to standard. Such a person would be fulfilling a market function, getting rewarded for their cleverness.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 3:32 AM
Comment #157086

I’d never thought of private property rights as a defense for homocide… what an interesting idea… sounds like a great defense for abortion as well…

Posted by: Dr. Poshek at June 13, 2006 3:37 AM
Comment #157093

stopculture, yes, I live about 60 miles SW of Austin and go there at least once a year. Great town. Too big for my country tastes, but I love to visit.

Fines and punitive measures deter, but, don’t prevent corporate pollution. Only citizens living in the pollution can halt it. We agree on that entirely.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 13, 2006 4:47 AM
Comment #157135


Yes, it is precisely about definition. TOXIC waste is treated in a very special and expensive way. We regulate sewerage. We should. But when you give it this specific name, it becomes literally impossible to handle w/o great expense and waste. Imagine all the energy (and plastic bags) that would have to go into disposing this toxic waste. We could put it into sanitary landfills, where it would not return to the environment for thousands of years. We need it now.

Stephen (2) re Collapse. Calling manure a toxic waste and making it subject to those sorts of rules is what causes collapse. It is a very unecological idea. It would pour resources into destroying or isolating something that is necessary in the nature cycle. It is exactly the wrong thing to do.


If you kill the bacteria, you kill the compost. This is natural process and a nature product. It is a good thing. People pay money for it sometimes. We do not want to sterilize this living product. We want to use it safely. It is NOT A TOXIC WASTE.


See above for Stephen. IF you classify it as a toxic waste you have nothing but trouble. I suggest you tell you dad about this and see what he says. Explain to him that we are talking about toxic as in SUPERFUND. We regulate sewerage and we should. All I advocate is what is in the legislation. Exempt manure from the Superfund toxic definition.


You did the right thing. Stewardship is important. And for those who do not take stewardship seriously, we need the law. I do support regulating the disposal of manure. But don’t call it a toxic waste. That term has a very special LEGAL meaning today.

Posted by: Jack at June 13, 2006 9:15 AM
Comment #157143

Jack: Six months is all you would need. You live next door to one of the mega pig farms for six months and you will have a mountain of pig crap, a river of pig urine and a gigabit of flies over running your property. Then we will see if you are willing to sing a different tune.

A pig farmer once told me that the smell of pig waste smelled just like money to him. It only smells like money to pig farmers and pork belly speculators. Are you a pork belly speculator Jack?

It seems to me that a simple compromise could be worked out. Small ranchers and farmers could be exempted from regulation.

Posted by: jlw at June 13, 2006 9:53 AM
Comment #157149



You can regulate if you want. Just don’t call it toxic. Toxic waste allows no compromise. How can you exempt small producers IF it is toxic?


Who was there first, you or the pig operation? Agriculture smells bad sometimes. Even small operations. If the pigs moved next to you, you have my sympathy. Talk to your local authorities. Manure is reguated. If you moved next to the pigs, you have no complaint coming.

My interest in biosolids as as a consumer and an environmentalist. In a couple years I can put some biosolids on my pine trees. It will make them grow better, fertilize the ground so there is more for wildlife to eat and we will recycle nutrients in a natural way. Some of that pig manure you dislike may help the trees grow.

Posted by: Jack at June 13, 2006 10:08 AM
Comment #157152

Jack, it needs to be composted first. Costs more, but, protects the environment and the critters in them including us. Ever hear of swine flu! It can be a killer. Also, do your trees situate over an acquifer. If so, some care should be given to amounts and frequency. Pigs don’t congregate to shit communally in one spot when left to their own devices. Only man does that and forces pigs to do it to. Pigs know better, but, man doesn’t.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 13, 2006 10:15 AM
Comment #157192

Jack: Country people have had very little problems with local chicken, pig or cattle farmers. The people of Ohio have spent millions of dollars fighting huge corporate pig and chicken farms. Local citizens are exposed to large amounts of toxic waste and the resulting consequences that are attributed to the waste. When the government moves in on them, they move ten miles up the road, abandon the old site and the process starts all over again.

Animal waste is very toxic Jack when it accumulates in huge, untreated amounts. It is a lot cheaper for these corporate feed and slaughter lots to pay a fine after they move on and leave the mess behind.

Posted by: jlw at June 13, 2006 11:44 AM
Comment #157214


The question is not whether or not it is toxic. Lots of things are toxic in large quantities. There is a specific definition to toxic waste in the sense that it can become a superfund site.

Let me be clear that I am not opposing regulating manure in general. But if you start calling it a toxic waste, lots of bad things can happen. All the legislation does is prevent that specific term being applied. You might be going after the big hog farmer, but - as you said - he knows how to dodge the rules. You will end up hitting the organic farmer who does not have time to check into all the complicated regulation.


Read the biosolids link from the EPA. Biosolids are processed. They are not applied near water etc. Sometimes there is a problem when they are misapplied (everything is a problem when used wrong) and some people don’t like the look or smell. These are not long term effects, however. Any use of manure will create them. If we start making too much trouble about that, we can kiss our environment goodbye. Recycling nutrients is what the healthy environment does. If we stop that, we are up sh*t creek w/o a paddle.

BTW - In forestry you apply every seven or ten years. It will not accumlate too much.

Posted by: Jack at June 13, 2006 12:38 PM
Comment #157250

I would rather somebody have to go through the effort and expense of dodging the rules, rather than have them just sit pretty doing this stuff for free.

If you believe that regulation of mass animal waste is a good idea, don’t just oppose that definition, but also come across with the other regulation as well.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 1:35 PM
Comment #157251

Jack, agreed!

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 13, 2006 1:35 PM
Comment #157266

I believe that making manure a toxic material is a step in the directioin to clean up some of these super-farms. Litterally thousands of cows or hogs in a small pen that hardly allowes them to move. One cow produces 13000kg af manure a year, multiply that by thousands of cows and you have a superfund site. The true trouble with the superfund is that the taxpayers are taking the bill for a program that was ment to have the polluting corporations clean up after themselves. But as the republicans lessend the corporate responsibility we pick up the bill.

Posted by: matt at June 13, 2006 2:10 PM
Comment #157288


There is toxic, and then there is TOXIC.


toxic (more toxic, most toxic)

Having a chemical nature that is harmful to health or lethal if consumed or otherwise entering into the body in small quantities.

I had the occasion to work one summer at an egg ranch when I was in high school.
Chicken manure contains huge amounts of both nitrogen and ammonia.
This ranch had 35,000 laying hens and probably another 30,000 chicks.
The amount of manure was staggering.
The owner had a scraper system that moved in trays under each level of cages and and deposited the waste at the end of each cycle into a concrete tank.
Oh, and these cages were 7 levels high. That’s a lot of poop.
Once a week he pumped out the tanks and emptied the waste into what was, for lack of a better term a cattle tank, basically an area of a small canyon that had been dammed for the purpose of holding back the waste. This “holding” lake could be smelled for miles and surely was TOXIC.

Chemicals such as nitrogen and ammonia are indeed toxic in even small concentrations.

When we talk about a “Superfund site” I think that this egg ranch certainly would qualify.

What you are talking about isn’t “Joe” farmer. We’re talking about huge factory farms that should be forced to shell out the dollars to clean up the mess they have created. These factories have taken advantage of lax rules and should be required to pay the price as a cost of being allowed to continue doing business.

Also, simply labeling these areas as toxic doesn’t even begin to address the issues of the vermin that these areas attract.

Posted by: Rocky at June 13, 2006 2:51 PM
Comment #157318

Unless your running a feedlot there’s no harm being done. Most ranchers running thousands for head of cattle range them on thousands of acres. I don’t see where they are creating any problems.
Feedlot owners on the other hand run the thousands of head on only a few acres. These folks ain’t really ranchers or farmers in my book.
I can see where these will cause a problem. And they do need to clean up the pens more than they do.
The problem is the environmentalist want me to be subjected to the same regulations as the feed lots.
I have 21 head of Angus and 50 acres of pasture. I only have one feeder pig at a time that I raise to butcher. There are 10 layer hens and one rooster, a pain in the back side. Four doe rabbits and one buck. A dog and an ornery cat. All this on 350 acres. I fail to see where my livestock are creating any problems.

I’m not against a clean environment. And it is cheaper to keep it clean than to clean it up.
The problem is when you start having to deal with all the conflicting government regulations. Take for example my factory. The EPA says I have to store solvents that we use in a building. OSHA says I can’t. It’s damned if I do damned if I don’t.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 13, 2006 4:13 PM
Comment #157332


In our rules toxic waste has a very specific meaning. It has to be a long term danger. If you dispose of radioactive waste or toxic chemical and come back ten years later it is likely the waste will be just as dangerous as the day you left it. If you dispose of 1000 lbs of manure and you come back ten years later, there will be no toxic danger. In fact the soil will be in better condition than if you did nothing.

The problem of organic manure, therefore, is very different from those we associate with toxic wastes as we use the term for Superfund. We are willing to spend millions of dollars to clean up toxic waste dumps because otherwise it would be a persistent problem. This is not the case with manure.

Take the case of your egg ranch and compare it to a toxic chemical dump. If you just abandon the ranch, in a relatively short time there will be no toxicity. If you just abandon the chemical dump, there will. If you take the “toxic” chicken grit and spread it widely around, it will create no problems and will have benefits. If you take the toxic chemicals and spread them around, you will poison more people and things.

You can regulate manure and sewerage and should. But if you open the toxic gate, the lawyers will move in and they will not stop until they have taken all they can get.

You see manure is not really toxic. It only becomes so in very large concentrations. The same would be true of any organic material, including food products. If you label the THING as toxic, you invite regulation down to very low levels. And soon nobody can go anything with it and/or they fear to touch it.

I will give you a sure example. I plan to use biosolids on my forest land in about seven years. If it is classified as toxic, I won’t do it. Why risk being taken to court? This means that a couple things things result. (1) The trees grow slower so whatever forest products we were getting are delayed. (2) The biosolids cannot be disposed of in a natural an ecological way and must be burned or buried in a sanitary landfill. In either case, they go from being a benefit to agriculture to a curse and an expense. In other words, the use of the word toxic makes it toxic. And now the environment suffered AND we pay more to do it, a real lose/lose proposition.

Posted by: Jack at June 13, 2006 4:50 PM
Comment #157343


I agree with you in some circumstances. Perhaps it is only semantics, but there should be a classification made for the organic matter which has sullied the streams and rivers, without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.

In my experience chicken manure is only a good fertilizer if it is applied before planting and not after.
Because of the high concentrations of nitrogen it contains, it will kill most, if not all, live vegetation it is used on.

I think that you could easily say that would classify it as toxic.

Posted by: Rocky at June 13, 2006 5:20 PM
Comment #157351

Leave it to the libs to figure out yet another way to use the government to create laws that crush the individual (in this case, the owner of a small farm).

If there are toxic wastes, deal with them on that level. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. If this legislation isn’t passed (correcting the original legislation) it will have a great impact on too many people that are not creating toxic waste. Every pig farmer in American will have to worry about “Whitey coming to take the farm away.” And then the libs will say that the cons are at fault.

And again, we will have come full circle. The cons being blamed for the lib’s fiasco.

Posted by: Bruce P at June 13, 2006 5:42 PM
Comment #157364


I am not arguing that it is not toxic (in quantity). What I am against is its official classification as a hazardous waste in the context of the Superfund legislation. That opens up a whole world of litigation and trouble that will affect the guy who owns a couple of horses. They say it won’t but it always does.

It is the wrong tool for this job. It is the wrong solution for this problem.

Posted by: Jack at June 13, 2006 6:20 PM
Comment #157370

If its a real problem,there is a guy in my neighborhood who will pick up crap in your backyard for about $10.00 a week. Let me know if you need his number.

Posted by: jblym at June 13, 2006 6:28 PM
Comment #157379


“It is the wrong tool for this job. It is the wrong solution for this problem.”

Then along with notifying our representatives of the incorrect application, we also need to notify them of the change that would actually address the problem.
Allowing them to make the change without addressing the actual problem is a band-aid where a tourniquet should be applied.

And you know as well as I, there is a problem to be addressed, AND, it will be ignored until the wrong law is written again.

Posted by: Rocky at June 13, 2006 6:41 PM
Comment #157380

If its a real problem,there is a guy in my neighborhood who will pick up crap in your backyard for about $10.00 a week. Let me know if you need his number.

Posted by: jblym at June 13, 2006 06:28 PM

And where does he dump it?
There was a guy around here that would pump out your septic tank for $10.00. Come to find out he was dumpnig into the river.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 13, 2006 6:44 PM
Comment #157382

Maybe they were related,but to answer your question I think he flings it into the next yard. In America this is called developing latent markets.

Posted by: jblym at June 13, 2006 6:48 PM
Comment #157413


It is just the wrong solution. If you have a problem with your neighbor playing Pantera too loud, the solution is not to declare it a felony to listen to heavy metal. You may slack the big chicken farm, but you will also crush the horse farmer down the road.

Posted by: Jack at June 13, 2006 8:10 PM
Comment #157433

The Primary supporters of the bill are the very factory farmers that you yourself would agree would be part of the group of people that should be regulated concerning these issues.

So, the concern for the small farmer is used to justify exempting factory farms from their large scale contamination of the environment.

Tell me, wouldn’t it just be better to make an exemption for farms and factories below a certain size? Additionally, Does Superfund indicate the levels of such waste necessary to trigger a cleanup? That might be another key.

I don’t think whole communities should have to suffer because of the actions of factory farm owners. Why are you folks just giving in to them? Where’s the middle track?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 9:45 PM
Comment #157454


If you call it a hazarous waste, you cannot exempt someone under a certain size. That is like saying a little guy can own a small amount of plutonium or can dump poison if he is under a certain size. If you call it a toxic waste, it is a toxic waste and will be liable for the lawyers to attack and the law to punish.

It is also dishonest. If you think it is a toxic waste, you cannot just define it for those you don’t like. I think they call that a bill or attainder.

You can regulate waste w/o using the Superfund law. If it is not working in your town, it is because either your city managers are not protecting the people or maybe it is less of a problem than you think.

I know lots of farmers who have trouble with city people who move in and want “open space” w/o real farms. Animals smell bad. Farm machines are noisy. Forestry oprations cut trees. The transplanted city folks are so separated from nature that they don’t understand these things anymore. They want their farming neighbors to look like Courier and Ives prints.

In some places they had to enact right to farm laws.

Rich, well connected urban folk want to use the threat of superfund to intimidate their farming neighbors who cannot stand the threat of going to court. Don’t give the fat cats this weapon and if you want this weapon, you should not get it.

Posted by: Jack at June 13, 2006 10:43 PM
Comment #157456


You miss the point.

You know damn well there are those that are extreme violators. They deserve to be fined to the extreme of whatever law can be found to prosecute them.
Despite your dream that all corporations are full of goodness and light, the law, regardless that it misses the mark, is designed to nail these creeps, who truly deserve it, to the wall.

If the law misses the mark it should be amended to reflect where the mark actually is, but we shouldn’t be willing to let these criminals have a free ride because of who else it harms.

Posted by: Rocky at June 13, 2006 10:49 PM
Comment #157459


You should not use this law to get at those who are offending you. It is too destructive to other things.

When I was a kid, a bat got into our house. In those days, people didn’t appreciate bats as they do today and we wanted to get rid of it. My uncle got out his shotgun and wanted to shoot it right there in the house. We didn’t let him. This law is like giving the guy the shotgun.

You have laws that can be used. This is the wrong one. It will hurt more than those you are shooting at. In fact, they will probably dodge the bullets. They know how to use the law and abuse it. The rich will use this to limit competition from others. It is just a really bad idea to use the Federal Superfund law to get at a local manure problem. The Superfund law was not designed for them.

Posted by: Jack at June 13, 2006 11:06 PM
Comment #157464


You still aren’t seeing what I am writing.

I personally think that any city folk that are offended by the smell of the country should move back to the city, and good riddance.
However, I do worry about the factory farms, dairies, and yes chicken ranches that are upstream from small cities and towns, and even other farms that pull water from the aquifers that are polluted by those factory farms.

The problem you are ignoring isn’t a local problem when the area water supply is polluted by an irresponsible corporation farm that is miles away.
There should be federal standards for drinking water, and those standards should be irrevocable, regardless how much money the corporations have to fight them.

Posted by: Rocky at June 13, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #157527


I understand what you are saying and I agree that we should regulate pollution from farms. I also understand that some people break the law or get around them. The solutions are better enforcement and more tightly written laws.

Federal standards for drinking water have been in place since 1974. You also have legal recourse if you suffer damage to your property or health.

But to use a law that was designed to deal with chemical and radioactive waste on a national level to attack local manure problems is not the proper solution. There is no way this can be applied to get at these big firms w/o also hitting others. Having your property declared a Superfund site will ruin and bankrupt most people and firms. The threat of that is very real and potent. It may scare your big producers, but probably not so much. They have the lawyers to fight back and if they are already violating laws, they don’t worry much about legal consequences. It WILL intimidate small owners. Eventually anyone with a septic tank or a couple of horses will feel the weight of the Federal bureaucracy. It is not the right solution.

Posted by: Jack at June 14, 2006 8:25 AM
Comment #157658

I’m not sure here how your average horse farmer would get roped into being treated as a superfund site. This seems aimed at industrial waste release. Having perused the site relating the Superfund law, I get the impression that all you would really need to do is create a minimum in terms of the amount of substance released.

I think bringing small farmers into this is a red herring.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 14, 2006 2:14 PM
Comment #157677

Turns out I was right. This is a red herring:

The Manure controversy is officially a load of shit.

From the site:

Congress did consider the use of fertilizers when it first debated Superfund. While Congress did not exclude manure from the definition of “hazardous substance,” it did exclude the “normal application of fertilizer” from the law’s definition of “release.” The term “normal field application,” according to the legislative history, means “the act of putting fertilizer on crops or cropland, and does not mean any dumping, spilling, or omitting, whether accidental or intentional, in any other place or of significantly greater concentration or amounts that are beneficial to crops.”

The regulated release amounts for the chemicals, Hydrogen Sulfide and Ammonia require releases of over 100 pounds apiece. Think about how much animal waste is required to generate that.

Only three lawsuits have been filed against farm operations under the Superfund law. Those lawsuits can only be filed by the affected party.

This whole controversy is just the spin generated by big factory farmers whose operations do indeed create large amounts of contaminating waste. They feed us this line about small farmers (the same people these operations have all but put out of business), so they can play on our sympathies for the old rustics, when in reality this is just meant to exclude them from lawsuits rightly filed against them for their release of chemicals from animal wastes in the environment.

This should anger you conservatives out there. You are being played for fools by these people, just so they can get away with literally befouling our drinking water. The lack of real sanitation with these people has also been a major reason that foodborne illness have risen in the past few decades. They transport and pen up these animals in close proximity, encouraging the spread of diseases like Salmonella and E. Coli amongst them. it’s these people you have to thank when you’re forced to cook a hamburger well done that you wanted rare, these people that make raw egg product and chicken not thoroughly cooked a health threat.

The wastes from these facilities are causing public health problems, which we the citizens have to suffer through, and we the taxpayer and the patient have to pay for. Doing these guys any favors in this instance is little better than shooting ourselves in the foot.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 14, 2006 3:02 PM
Comment #157678

Sorry: everything from the regulated release on down is excluded from the quotes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 14, 2006 3:03 PM
Comment #157698


Then you should just give us what we want and we will go away. All I ask is that manure NOT be classified as hazardous waste. That is all the proposed legislation asks. From your fact/myth sheet:

Fact: Hazardous waste management is governed by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), not Superfund, and the term “hazardous waste” has specific, legal meaning under that law. It is not synonymous with the Superfund term “hazardous substance.” Manure is not considered a hazardous waste under RCRA. No hazardous waste requirements for labeling, tracking, storage, treatment or disposal would apply to manure, regardless of any ruling on cleanup under Superfund.”

If this is true, the legislation would only codify specifically what your source says is the case (and why we need not worry). The worst you could say is that we are being redundant. So let’s do it and make all those people who feel threatened feel safer.

Posted by: Jack at June 14, 2006 4:05 PM
Comment #157742


“But to use a law that was designed to deal with chemical and radioactive waste on a national level to attack local manure problems is not the proper solution. There is no way this can be applied to get at these big firms w/o also hitting others.”

Sorry to take so long getting back.

Can’t we assume that the concentrations of chemicals in this manure (nitrogen, ammonia, nitrates, phosphorus, etc.) qualify for the designation of “Superfund site”?
Is there not a threshold that has to be met in order to key in the designation of “Superfund site”?
Wouldn’t that “threshold” rule out all but the most heinous of offenders?

This about contaminated wells in Wisconsin;


Posted by: Rocky at June 14, 2006 5:16 PM
Comment #157783


I think we reached a modus vivendi with Stephen (see above). We agree on the problem but I fear this particular solution. Some other possibilities are available.

Posted by: Jack at June 14, 2006 5:59 PM
Comment #157838

Then what’s the point of explicitly excluding it, spending all this money to lobby for it? They want this passed so they can get immunity from having to pay to clean up their own messes. This will come out of your pocket, my friend, because that’s who will end up paying for it otherwise.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 14, 2006 8:12 PM
Comment #157847


Because of my original point. I do not trust activists and lawyers. If I spread biosolids on my land, I want to follow the law and I want to protect MY land and the water that runs across and under it. But I do not want to allow someone to threaten my life saving with a nuclear option. Do I believe it would work. NO. But I do believe that if I crossed an activist or a rich neighbor it might be threatened and I might not have the extra cash to fight it in court, so I would have to cave.

That is the reason I am spending my time writing about it. In addition, some of my biosolid might indeed come from one of these big farm operations. Spreading it on my land will be a good thing all around, but if the activist is after Smithfield, I might be collateral damage.

Posted by: Jack at June 14, 2006 8:50 PM
Comment #157858

Take a look at your law at section 312 paragraph d definition 3 and 4:

(3) any process water associated with the items referred to in paragraph (1) or (2); and

(4) any byproducts, constituents, or substances contained in, originating from, or emissions relating to the items described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3).’.

Then there’s the item right after that:

Amendment of SARA- Section 304(a)(4) of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (Pub. L. 99-499; 100 Stat. 1655.) is amended by adding the following at the end thereof: `The notification requirements under this subsection shall not apply to releases associated with manure (as defined in section 312 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980).’[emphasis mine] .

3 is important, but 4 is crucial, because that’s where the real harm comes in, and the real liability comes in.

Because of the reasons I gave in my previous post, this would have absolutely no effect on the average farmer spreading manure for fertilization purposes

Because of that and the wording of the sections above, it is clear that the intended target of this law are the factory farms, and that the kinds of pollution and water contamination that are of greatest concern fall within the definition of manure. Just to be clear, manure includes, in this law,

1) digestive emissions, feces, urine, urea and other excrement from livestock (as defined by 7 C.F.R. 205.2);

`(2) any associated bedding, compost, raw materials or other materials commingled with such excrement from livestock (as defined by 7 C.F.R. 205.2);

So nitrogen wastes, gaseous emission and other things fall into the definition, and thus through the loophole.

These people are trying to dodge the responsiblity of cleaning up their toxic waste, which we agree it becomes when gathered in large enough quantities. Superfund comes into play when there are large releases of this into the environment, and into the groundwater, so this essentially constitutes a free ride for agribusiness to pollute and not be forced to clean up after themselves by the government and/or the communities affected. What’s more, they release their waste and not even tell people about it.

Do you really want to support this law now?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 14, 2006 9:13 PM
Comment #157868

To clarify: An operation has to be pretty large, and the damage the chemicals that are leaching out and being created from the dumping pretty serious. For people to qualify to sue for this, they have to be in an affected community.

Farmers using fertilizer appropriate amounts would never have any liability. They are excluded by law. Nobody could ever sue you for that.

The law above is designed to target those kinds of operations that could be termed superfund sites, which requires a great deal of waste in one place doing a great deal of contamination and damage to the environment. An operation has to be both handling large amounts of waste, and be falling down on the job pretty seriously to get hit by the law.

The law above defines manure not only as the standard old shit, but also urine, urea(as from bird droppings), methane, waste water used to clean it up, and (most importantly) the breakdown products and leached chemicals that might contaminate land, water, and groundwater.

So, to sum things up, this law only applies to the worst animal waste polluters, and defines manure so broadly as to include precisely the kind of wastes that we generally agree are toxic, and should not be allowed to contaminate the communities around us. And as that one final paragraph in the law says, these people would be allowed to release these substances into the environment without telling us.

This is not a nuclear option. Superfund doesn’t come into play until things get pretty nasty. Drastic malfeasance, like that which would require this kind of cleanup, requires drastic action, and the people who have willingly or negligently done this to the environment deserve what they get.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 14, 2006 9:27 PM
Comment #157899

Thank you Stephen,

What you said.

Posted by: Rocky at June 14, 2006 10:36 PM
Comment #157938

Does anyone have information that proves that the TOXIC animal wastes that prove fatal to humans, generally prove fatal to all forms of plantlife, or do they thrive on it?

The Earth has an amazing natural filtration system that makes clear fresh water and plant nutrients out of the most disgusting animal wastes. The Earth also tends to allow for a consistenly increasing number of humans that produce waste as well.

Creativity may be the key factor. As natural resources continue to dwindle, might we find a perfect use for TOXIC animal or human waste as a fertilizer for reforestation? No need to worry about that unless you’re Yul Gibbons. Refinement into a liquid or solid fuel?

There is an answer somewhere, if we want to find it somewhere. In the meantime, I don’t want to eat it. I don’t want it in my water. I don’t want it’s fumes in the air.

Posted by: DOC at June 15, 2006 12:31 AM
Comment #158021

Ronald Reagan was right when he said that plants and animals produce more harm to the atmosphere than all of man’s factories, cars, etc combined.

Plants produce methane and carbon dioxide. Animals produce methane and other dangerous products. We, on the other hand, improve our ways to satisfy all: the environmental wackos, ourselves, and other normal people.

Posted by: Stubborn Conservative at June 15, 2006 10:15 AM
Comment #158158

Stubborn Conservative,

“Plants produce methane and carbon dioxide.”

Really, is that a scientific fact, or are you just guessing?

Last time I checked, plants absorbed Co2, and produced O2.

“We, on the other hand, improve our ways to satisfy all: the environmental wackos, ourselves, and other normal people.”

Ever been to a open pit copper mine?
A smelter?
A pig farm?

Posted by: Rocky at June 15, 2006 5:17 PM
Comment #158168

Rocky & Stephen

We are done with this thread absent some good manure to fertilize it. You made many good points for me to think about. But I still think the specific hazardous designation is dangerous. It still seems the wrong tool.

I do not mean this as an arguing point, just observation that affects both our sides. Left leaning people seem to have a great deal of trust in government benevolence with regard to regulating the economy. Right leaning people are a lot more skeptical. We all support some regulations, but I am less enthusiastic. On the other hand, right leaning people are more trustful of government with regard to security. I don’t find much to dislike in the wiretapping or telephone studies.

Rocky BTW the copper pit and smelter I think are liable for suprefund.

Posted by: Jack at June 15, 2006 5:40 PM
Comment #158178


“Rocky BTW the copper pit and smelter I think are liable for suprefund”

That statement was in response to Stubborn Conservative and his remarks

Posted by: Rocky at June 15, 2006 6:11 PM
Comment #158305

The thing is, there is no other tool by which communities can demand accountability in court of companies that dump chemicals. If these companies are excluded, they will be able to dump with impunity to lawsuit, and not even tell people about it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 16, 2006 8:18 AM
Comment #158348


Didn’t all those things you provided give some tools? All local jurisdictions have rules. YOu can sue (and win) if someone ruins your land or the water you drink. There will always be mistakes and injustice, but we have tools.

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 11:47 AM
Comment #158405

1)Rivers, aquifers, and the pollutants they carry often disregard political boundaries

2)Corporations of this sort are often out of state affairs, necessitating federal involvement.

3)Local jurisdictions don’t always have the resources to fight legal battles with these agricultural giants.

4)Superfund is the only law that can be used to force the companies to take up the costs of clean-up.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 16, 2006 3:02 PM
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