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Nov 11, 2013

KEOSAUQUA (AP) — A southeast Iowa hog farm with a history of manure accidents has spilled thousands of gallons of manure into a Van Buren County tributary of the Des Moines River just weeks after a state inspection.

An environmental activist group said Friday the Iowa Department of Natural Resources could have prevented the spill if it had cracked down on the operation during an August inspection.

A clogged drain line at the Maschhoff Keosauqua Sow Unit caused manure to flow a quarter mile into a dry creek on Nov. 4, DNR Environmental Specialist Ryan Stouder said Friday. The facility’s workers dug a pit in the creek on the farm’s property to stop the manure flow.

On Tuesday afternoon farm workers began pumping the manure back into a lagoon. Water from a nearby pond was used to flush the creek and help in the pumping process. The DNR said about an inch of rain Tuesday night helped to further dilute the manure.

The farm houses nearly 7,500 pigs. It has 10 confinement buildings, according to the Aug. 20 inspection report. The animals produce about 11 million gallons of manure a year. It is retained in a lagoon and occasionally spread onto about 591 acres of surrounding farmland.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a citizen action group that opposes large-scale livestock confinement facilities, criticized the DNR for failure to prevent the spill.

“It’s as plain as the nose on my face: The DNR could have prevented this spill from happening when they inspected this factory farm weeks ago, but they turned a blind eye to the obvious rather than cracking down and demanding Maschhoff Pork start playing by stronger rules,” said Garry Klicker, a farmer from Bloomfield and an Iowa CCI member.

Stouder said an inspector in August couldn’t have known a pipe would plug and cause an accidental spill.

He said the farm had spills in 2011 and 2007 and that information will be included in a report provided to the DNR’s legal adviser to determine any fines or required action to prevent future incidents. That could include a requirement that the operation obtain a permit under the federal Clean Water Act, Stouder said.

Messages left at the Keosauqua Maschhoff farm and with the Carlyle, Ill.-based Maschhoff farm headquarters were not immediately returned Friday.

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