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Hog confinement owner fined $10K for manure spills


Hog confinement owner fined $10K for manure spills

Mar 31, 2023 | 5:02 pm ET
By Jared Strong
Hog confinement owner fined $10K for manure spills
Manure spills and the overapplication of manure on fields can pollute the state's waterways. (Photo courtesy of Iowa DNR)

A northwest Iowa hog confinement owner who has violated state regulations more than two dozen times was recently fined $10,000 for spills from one of his facilities, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The fine is one of three the department has levied in the past decade against Larrell DeJong, who lives near Minneapolis but has three confinements in Osceola and Palo Alto counties in Iowa.

Someone reported in August 2022 that manure had spilled from a facility with 2,400 swine south of Harris, DNR records show.

“Manure had spilled over the weekend because not all the manure had been pumped from the storage structure in the fall of 2021,” a DNR administrative order said.

The DNR requires such spills to be reported as soon as possible but not more than six hours after they are discovered. A complaint about the spill was reported on a Tuesday to the department, and when a DNR officer went to investigate the next day, a spill was not apparent. However, DeJong acknowledged in a voicemail to the department it had occurred.

One of the managers for the facility later told the DNR that about 150,000 gallons of manure had been pumped from a large storage pit to keep it from overflowing again. But the manure was applied to a field that is not part of the facility’s management plan.

Those plans exist to prevent too much manure application, which increases the likelihood of waterway pollution from nutrients such as nitrate.

Then about three weeks later, an employee of DeJong’s reported another overflow from the pit. The manure flowed into a nearby field and a county right of way, where it pooled. DNR documents did not estimate how much manure had leaked from the facility.

The department fined DeJong $10,000 in late March. He could not be reached to comment for this article.

“Mr. DeJong’s facility had two releases in the same month and he failed to report one of the releases,” the DNR order said. “Mr. DeJong owns several animal feeding operations in the state and all of his facilities have a history of noncompliance with the animal feeding operation regulations.”

The others are near Harris and Cylinder and have a combined total of about 6,200 swine, state records show.

The three facilities have spurred more than two dozen violation notices from the DNR since 2009. They were most often for failing to file required manure management plans and manure application records but also involved spills, improper disposal of dead animals and increasing the size of one facility without obtaining a permit.

During an inspection of one of the facilities in 2012, the department noted that a facility that was permitted since 1999 for 700 nursery pigs had nearly three times that many. DeJong was fined $2,250.

In 2021, he was fined $4,000 for another manure overflow of an unspecified amount.