WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Humane Society of the United States says it plans to sue 51 hog confinement operations in Iowa, North Carolina and Oklahoma.
The organization claims the operations are responsible for unreported releases of ammonia.
The Humane Society said the facilities were identified after months of research into an industry that has become heavily consolidated in recent years. More than 90 percent of family farms raising pigs havae gone out of business in the last three decades, it said.
Included in the Iowa operations are some owned by Austin “Jack” DeCoster in Dows, Clarion and Kanawha; and some owned by Iowa Select in Riceville and Ackley.
Humane Society officials said each of the operations confines thousands of pigs and emits hundreds of pounds of airborne ammonia per day.
“These intensive pig confinement operations are a menace to the environment, to the community and to the animals virtually immobilized in tiny gestation crates for nearly their entire lives,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at the Humane Society of the United States.
The organization sent letters informing the hog operations of its intent to sue as required under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act before litigation can start.
The law requires all facilities that release certain amounts of harmful contaminants to report those amounts to state and local emergency response teams. The information provides the state, emergency responders and the local community with essential information about their exposure to hazardous substances, including ammonia.
Because of ammonia’s lethal potential, high production volume and chronic toxicity, the EPA requires reporting by any facility that releases more than 100 pounds within a 24 hour period.
The Humane Society claims all of the operations put on notice exceed this requirement, and in some cases by “vast amounts.”