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Millions of gallons of manure have languished at former swine site for years

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Millions of gallons of manure have languished at former swine site for years

Feb 27, 2024 | 6:14 pm ET
By Jared Strong
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Millions of gallons of manure have languished at former swine site for years
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Hogs in a livestock production facility. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The operators of a defunct hog confinement in southern Iowa have failed for more than five years to dispose of its leftover manure, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The department recently ordered Raul Flores-Castillo and Virginia Flores to remove all manure from the rural Albia facility’s indoor pits and outdoor lagoon by the end of the year or face potential fines of up to $5,000.

The DNR estimates that the site has about 2.5 million gallons of liquid manure and nearly 2 million pounds of solids. The facility is relatively small — with a capacity for 700 swine — and was built in the 1980s, according to county records.

“A lot of those structures are pretty well built, but if you had a structure that failed and you had a catastrophic release, it could cause significant environmental damage,” said Bill Gibbons, a senior environmental specialist for the DNR who investigated the situation.

Flores-Castillo and Flores bought the swine operation and a house on contract in March 2018, a recent DNR order said. But the department went to inspect the operation eight months later and learned that it had no animals.

State rules require manure from shuttered animal confinements to be removed within six months of closures.

In the ensuing years, the operators said they were seeking to repopulate the facility and, later, that they could not afford to remove the manure, the DNR order said.

Gibbons estimated that it will cost tens of thousands of dollars to dispose of the leftover manure. He said the operators are seeking help from a federal conservation office to obtain a loan to pay for it.

If manure remains at the site after December 2024, the operators face fines of $1,000 for each further month they are out of compliance with state regulations, up to $5,000.