State regulators will vote on judge’s recommendation on August 24 at the Pollution Control and Ecology Committee Meeting
By Emily Walkenhorst
The members of the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission must vote to approve or disapprove of Administrative Law Judge Charles Moulton's recommended that a permit application by C & H hog farm within the Buffalo River go out for public notice and comment.
Richard Mays, an attorney for some opponents of the C & H Hog Farms says he believes the department (ADEQ) will still find the application insufficient. No comment at this time from either the department or attorney for the owners at this time.
In his order, Judge Moulton found that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is not prohibited from having multiple public-comment periods on the same permit application.
In addition, the department's reversal from its preliminary approval of C&H's permit to a final decision denying it was akin to a "substantive change to a permit condition that resulted from public comment," which Moulton said was "generally accepted" as an impetus for another comment period.
Based on public comments, the department denied C&H Hog Farms an operating permit because the application did not contain a study on the flow direction of groundwater or an emergency action plan.
C&H Hog Farms operates on Big Creek, about 6 miles from where the creek drains into the Buffalo National River. The farm is authorized to hold 6,503 pigs and is the only federally classified medium or large hog farm in the area.
The typical hog farm doesn't need to renew its permit or apply for a new one without making major modifications because such operations are permitted under Regulation 5. But C&H is the state's only hog farm permitted under another category, Regulation 6, which is an expired permitting program that issued permits that last only five years before requiring renewal.