2017-07-13 / Front Page

Bivouac Swine Farm Subject Of Bay Journal Story

Reporter visited county to investigate

The local fight to stop the Bivouac Swine Farm from locating in Ayr Township has caught the eye of The Bay Journal in its June edition. According to its Web site, The Bay Journal is published by Bay Journal Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to inform the public about issues and events that affect the Chesapeake Bay. With a print circulation of 50,000, the Bay Journal is published monthly except for midsummer and midwinter and is distributed free of charge.

The article, “New battle looming over permitting hog farm in PA,” outlines the long-fought battle over the plan by Country View Farms to house 8,700 pigs in the new breeding facility.

In a visit to Fulton County, Bay Journal reporter Rona Kobell spoke with Marjorie Hudson, one of the opponents of the project and one of the citizens living near the proposed project who have filed suit in Fulton County Court of Common Pleas objecting to the Ayr Township supervisors’ approval of the project.

Kobell also spoke with Mike Kline and his wife, Karen, who fish near Big Cove Creek, a cold-water trout stream, which sits adjacent to the proposed project.

The facility, which would produce 11 million gallons of waste and use 7 million gallons of water a year, sits directly up a hill from Big Cove Creek. The concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) was first proposed in 2014.

She also spoke with Bill Fink, environmental specialist for Country View Farms and with Brent Walls, riverkeeper for the Upper Potomac River.

The article, in addition to speaking with local residents, provides a detailed overview of the ruling by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Environmental Hearing Board. That board hears cases involving state-is- sued permits and, as the article, clearly states “usually upholds DEP positions,” However, in this case, after four days of hearing testimony, the hearing board ruled in favor of the opponents of the project.

In his opinion filed in August 2015, Judge Bernard A. Labuskes Jr. said that “the Department (DEP) approved coverage even though the applicant failed to conduct appropriate infiltration and geotechnical studies to demonstrate that its system would meet regulatory criteria and be protective of the environment. The Department’s unlawful conduct constitutes irreparable harm per se.”

Judge Labuskes also went on to say that Country View Farms’ plan was “not based on any supporting field testing, which is the gold standard.”

And so, nearly two years later, the project continues to be mired in legal battles, many of which have now been consolidated. By order dated December 19, 2016, the board stayed this consolidated appeal until March 20, 2017, or until DEP acts on Country View Farms’ application to modify its NPDES permit, whichever occurs first. In March 2017, Country View Farms asked for the matter to be “stayed” and the request was granted to stay the appeal until June 20, 201,7 and an additional request by Country View Farms to extend the stay until September 29, 2017, was granted in June.

At their June meeting, the Ayr Township supervisors reviewed correspondence from Country View Farms asking that its $1 million line of credit be rescinded due to the project being “suspended.” The supervisors are expected to act on that request at their July meeting. In the meantime, Country View Farms has revised its plan once again and resubmitted it to DEP.

In spite of all of the legal filings and maneuvering, the citizens who oppose the project have always just simply said that the location is just wrong for the project. Riverkeeper Brent Walls also told the Bay Journal reporter that “the top of a knoll with streams on both sides is absolutely not the right place” for a hog-breeding facility.

The Bay Journal Web site can be accessed at www.bayjournal.com.

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