Ohio egg producer settles Clean Air violations

WASHINGTON, DC, February 25, 2004 (ENS): The largest commercial egg producer in Ohio has agreed to a comprehensive Clean Air Act settlement under which the company will spend more than $1.4 million to install and test innovative pollution controls. In addition the company, Buckeye Egg Farm, will pay an $880,598 civil penalty.

The controls will cut air emissions of particulate matter and ammonia from Buckeye Egg Farm's three giant egg laying facilities at Croton, Marseilles, and Mt. Victory.

The settlement resolves claims filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging that Buckeye failed to obtain necessary air permits for these facilities and failed to comply with an order directing it to sample its air emissions.

The settlement is contained in a consent decree lodged for public comment Monday by the Justice Department in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

"Buckeye has finally taken responsibility for the adverse effects its practices have had on human health and the environment in the state of Ohio," Phyllis Harris, EPA acting administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "We look forward to improved operations under the new owner of these facilities."

Buckeye's egg laying operations have the capacity to house more than 12 million chickens in more than 100 barns.

In 2002, Buckeye's facilities produced 2.6 billion eggs, or four percent of the nation's total.

Exterior exhaust fans surrounding the barns emit particulate matter and ammonia from the chickens.

Preliminary air emission tests required by EPA indicated that air emissions of particulate matter were significant - more than 550 tons per year from the Croton facility, more than 700 tons per year from the Marseilles facility, and more than 600 tons per year from the Mt. Victory facility.

Many scientific studies have linked particulate matter to aggravated asthma, coughing, difficult or painful breathing, chronic bronchitis and decreased lung function, among other ailments.

Buckeye also reported ammonia emissions of more than 800 tons per year from its Croton facility, more than 375 tons per year from the Marseilles facility, and nearly 275 tons per year from the Mt. Victory facility.

Although Buckeye recently sold its three facilities to Ohio Fresh Eggs LLC, the settlement requires Buckeye to bind the purchaser to implement the environmental improvements required under the consent decree. Buckeye remains liable for any violations.


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