Hawaiians Sue Dairy Farm After It Spills Millions of Gallons of Manure, Urine

According to VegNews, residents of Ookala, Hawaii, who are part of the nonprofit Kupale Ookala have added new documents to their lawsuit filed in 2017 against Big Island Dairy “after it discharged millions of gallons of liquid waste, polluting water and making the residents sick.”

The lawsuit claims that the dairy factory farm has repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act. Honolulu Civil Beat reports that the situation became critical two years ago when storms breached the farm’s waste lagoons, spilling manure and urine into waterways. “All that effluent ended up coming into Ookala,” said Charlene Nishida, vice president of Kupale Ookala. “The town got shut down; the school bus couldn’t deliver children.”

The Hawaii Department of Health has fined the company for violations in 2017, but the plaintiffs say the problem continues. According to Honolulu Civil Beat, the new case documents state that between May and August of this year, Big Island Dairy released more than 8 million gallons of waste into the three ravines that run through the town and into the ocean.

Charles Tebbutt, attorney for Kupale Ookala, says the farm and the Department of Health are not doing enough to solve the problem:
That’s what the citizens’ suit is all about. When the federal and state governments fail to do their job and fail to protect the public, the people have the right to protect themselves.
The dairy industry has a horrendous record of violating environmental regulations and polluting water. Earlier this year, Indiana dairy farm High Point Dairy agreed to pay a $9,600 civil penalty fine plus a $1,775 reimbursement to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources after manure overflowed into nearby Fountain Creek, killing upwards of 3,500 fish. Similarly, the second-largest dairy farm in Oregon, Lost Valley Farm, lost its operating permit for repeatedly mismanaging its waste and contaminating legally protected groundwater with cow manure.

But these aren’t the only cases—this happens all the time. Last year, a dairy factory farm just outside Loveland, Colorado, was placed under investigation after public health officials discovered that cow manure had been dumped into the Big Thompson River. Additionally, more than 190,000 gallons of manure from Tony Silveira Dairy spilled into Oregon’s Tillamook Bay last year. And an HP Hood dairy facility in Frederick County, Virginia, came under fire for regularly violating pollution limits in its wastewater.

Toxins like manure and fertilizer from factory farm runoff leak into nearby waterways. These toxins promote algae blooms, which create dead zones that kill aquatic life. In fact, animal excrement and agricultural runoff have polluted nearly one-third of rivers in the U.S.

Dairy factory farming is not only damaging to human health and the environment but unspeakably cruel. At dairy factory farms, cows are treated as mere milk-producing machines. They are forcibly impregnated and kept in terrible conditions. Calves are torn away from their mothers shortly after they are born. Male calves are killed for veal. Females are forced into the dairy herd, trapped in a cycle of abuse for years until they are considered “spent” and sent to slaughter.

Heartbreaking, right? Just watch this undercover video from a Mercy For Animals investigation.


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