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March 29, 2007

Attorney General Sues Golden Oval Eggs

Environmental lawsuit alleges water pollution violations by North Iowa egg-production facility with up to 5.7 million chickens.

Des Moines.  Attorney General Tom Miller filed an environmental enforcement lawsuit Thursday alleging water pollution violations by Golden Oval Eggs, LLC, the owner and operator of an egg-production facility with a capacity of 5.7 million chickens. Go to:  lawsuit

The lawsuit was filed at Winnebago County District Court in Forest City. Golden Oval’s 22-barn facility is located near Thompson, about 30 miles northwest of Mason City. (The principal place of business is 13780-450th Street, Thompson.)

The suit alleges that Golden Oval has committed numerous and repeated violations of the discharge limits contained in its permit issued by the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources. Despite three Notices of Violations issued by the DNR, the violations have continued, the suit alleges.

The suit seeks penalties for violations during April, May and September of 2005; every month except November in 2006; and January and February of 2007. Violations are punishable by a civil penalty up to $5,000 per day per violation.

Wastewater from the “egg-breaking” facility is discharged to a drainage ditch that runs into Pike Run Creek, a tributary of the Winnebago River. Golden Oval’s discharge permit with DNR imposes discharge limits, including biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, and ammonia-nitrogen. It also requires proper operation and maintenance to insure compliance, and requires Golden Oval to sample the discharge and submit monthly reports with results of monitoring to the DNR. The suit alleges numerous violations of its permit by Golden Oval.

Additional background on the lawsuit and the matter:

In April 2000, the DNR issued both a construction permit to Golden Oval and an “NPDES” permit (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit) with the various discharge and operation requirements described above. There were nine barns at the facility in 2002, fifteen barns by 2004, and 22 barns by 2006, with a capacity of 5.7 million chickens.

As early as 2002, DNR officials inspected Golden Oval’s wastewater treatment facility and operating reports, and notified Golden Oval that it must comply with effluent discharge limits in its permit. In 2002 and on later occasions, Golden Oval told the DNR it would address effluent treatment violations.

In June, August, and November 2006, the DNR issued Notices of Violation concerning violation of permit effluent limits. Despite the three Notices of Violation, Golden Oval continued to violate the effluent limits for its wastewater treatment facility from October through December 2006, according to the lawsuit. On December 5, 2006, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission referred the matter to the Attorney General's Office for judicial enforcement arising from the alleged violations. The lawsuit was filed by the Attorney General's Environmental Law Division.


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