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WA Dairies in Violation of Environmental Protection Laws, Court Rules

A summary judgment has been awarded to the plaintiffs in lawsuits against four industrial dairies in the Lower Yakima Valley of Washington state for violations of environmental protection laws.

The Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE) and Center for Food Safety (CFS) argued that the dairies’ leaking lagoons and over-applied manure cause nitrates and other pollutants to enter nearby soils and drinking water, threatening public health and the environment.

The dairies named in the lawsuits were some of the subjects in a 2013 EPA study, which found that 20 percent of wells tested in the Lower Yakima Valley had nitrate levels above federal drinking water standards.

Exposure to excess nitrate can result in blue-baby syndrome, and some studies have shown a positive association between long-term exposure to nitrate in drinking water and risk of cancer and certain reproductive outcomes.

“This Court finds no genuine issue of material fact that Defendants’ application, storage, and management of manure at Cow Palace Dairy violated [the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act]’s substantial and imminent endangerment and open dumping provisions and that all Defendants are responsible parties under RCRA,” wrote U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice.

CARE and CFS will now move forward to trial to determine the extent of the contamination and to identify protection and remediation measures.

“It is long past due that these dairy factories be held accountable for their toxic waste and compromising of human health,” said CFS Senior Attorney George Kimbrell. “These dairies’ practices harm drinking water and the environment, and we are gratified that the Court agrees that such pollution is unlawful.”

© Food Safety News
  • Global Food Collaborative

    Everyone along the supply chain in Yakima Valley should recognize the blow back, much less the human impact to their own families. Dairy + Pesticide = No Consume

  • Yakima has had problems with the dairies for decades. I’m glad to see someone prevail against them.

  • House Bill 1104 is an ag-gag bill, for those not from Washington.

  • Michael Wentz

    Thank you. I wrote to my rep in the sixth district asking him to oppose the bill.