Wednesday, December 27, 2006

2007 the year of responsibility and accountability

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, tonight -- Dec. 27, 2006 -- at 7:00 pm CST at the Jasper County Fairgrounds ... the BZA will announce their decision on the Special Exception Permit requested by Mark Shuringa and Gilbert Den Dulk.

I also mentioned that I'd like to look hopefully to the new year ahead as being the "year of responsibility and accountability" in regards to CAFOs -- both present and proposed -- for the State of Indiana.

Accountability -- responsibility -- Indiana Government ...

I'm guessing the year ahead will be a wake-up call for many different reasons as the Federal Government steps in to take stronger actions in preparation for the 2008 elections.

It's already happening...

For one example, on October 5, 2006 the Federal EPA announced, QUOTE:
"In an important action to protect the health and environment of its citizens, the city of Indianapolis signed a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make more than $1.86 billion in improvements to curb overflows from its sewer system." (link)
What's important to note about this particular case is that, even though no one (to their knowledge) had gotten sick as a result of the deficiencies in the Indianapolis sewer system, the Federal EPA stepped in anyway because it has been proven elsewhere that the situation could lead to outbreaks in disease. Quote:
"Although EPA is not aware of any health problems from sewage overflow in Indianapolis, nationwide, sewer overflows can lead to outbreaks of disease from such substances as E.coli bacteria and cryptosporidium."
Now, I've already brought up calf manure issues relating to c. parvum (aka cryptosporidium) and E. coli -- on more than one occassion in this blog.

I've also provided links to scientific studies directly linking calf manure to these same health risks, including the dangers as they relate to shallow wells, public waters, etc., etc.

But the burden of proof as it pertains to public health threats/risks does not rest on my shoulders...

One of the duties of due diligence the BZA must perform before reaching their final decision is the public health risk/threat-potential for the proposed calf factory at this location. To ignore this issue would be a violation of public trust, in my humble opinion.

The burden of proof that this proposed calf operation poses absolutely no threat to public health rests on their shoulders.

I'm hoping they have done their due diligence.

Because, you see, if they haven't done their homework, there are other entities out there right now doing homework of their own. Quote:
"Investigations by Federal and State agents have turned up a number of cases of inappropriate procedures and fraud that have the potential to affect human health. Because of the complexities of evaluating the effects of data manipulations and falsifications that occurred in several of the laboratory fraud cases, the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigators have been unable to determine the actual health risks and magnitude of population affected." (link)
The report provides details of investigations into EPA and/or State certified public water testing laboratories in our nation. The number of fraud cases is on the rise. I wonder if any Indiana laboratories are under investigation?

Until I started reading through the EPA cases completed in recent years, I had no idea that they had Special Agents. One particular case on the long list of Environmental actions caught my eye, about "Conspiracy to Violate Environmental Laws" ...this is new terminology to me.

What would fall under that category?

Would separating large CAFOs into smaller groups under separate legal ownership (connected by marriage) to avoid more stringent Federal regulations qualify? Would filing for environmental permits indicating 4-head under Federal regulating guidelines while building a facility to contain 1,000-head over Federal regulating guidelines qualify? I don't know. I'm no lawyer.

I didn't hear an answer from the BZA on the hog farm permits, and the strange number of 2,496 swine (2500 would place them under Federal environmental requirements i.l.o. State regulations)... and I didn't get a satisfactory answer in the IDEM response on the same subject. Maybe I need to ask the OIG?

See you tonight, 7 pm CST, at the Jasper County Fairgrounds where the BZA will announce their decision regarding the Special Exception Permit.

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