Taney County residents concerned about water contamination as hog waste is spread as fertilizer

Published: Mar. 6, 2020 at 3:07 PM CST
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The phrase "not in my back yard" is coming to life along the Missouri-Arkansas border. Thousands of gallons of hog waste are being spread in Taney County as fertilizer.

It's all coming from a hog farm that shut down in Arkansas because of environmental concerns over that waste.

Donald Lee Buckler lives along State Highway JJ, near the state line. He says trucks hauling the fertilizer have been passing his home for weeks.

"That's enough to fertilize the whole state of Missouri," Buckler said. "Day after day, 15 or 20 trucks going by, dumping."

He and some of his neighbors are worried the waste will make its way into their water.

"It's our drinking water. It's the water we clean up in, shower in, wash our clothes in, fish in," Buckler said.

Similar concerns went on for years in Newton County, Arkansas. C&H Hog Farms, Inc. was shut down in the summer of 2019 over fears its waste was polluting the Buffalo National River.

​"Mess their own backyard up, not ours," Buckler said.

However, even though many people who live along State Highway JJ don't like what's going on. Officials with The Missouri Department of Natural Resources say no laws are being broken. Environmental Specialist Ashley McDaniel visited the site after the DNR received complaints from neighbors.

"We are making sure they're meeting setback limits, they're not land-applying on steep slopes. It's a more level area, they're evenly distributing the waste. So, the plants can absorb the nutrients from that," McDaniel said.

The farm isn't required to report how many trucks are carrying waste, but KY3 News learned two lagoons at the farm could hold up to 2 million gallons of liquid hog feces and urine.

"It is partially treated because it does go into a lagoon. The lagoon serves as a treatment for the waste to allow for solids to settle, then you have the liquid on top," McDaniel explains.

McDaniel says using animal waste, like hog or chicken waste, as fertilizer is not rare.

"Land-application is very common practice. It is the original fertilizer. It's been used for hundreds of years all over the world," McDaniel said.

Even so, neighbors along Highway JJ wish more rules were in place to protect their homes from possible pollution.

"It is just not right," Buckler said.

While the DNR found no violations at this site, McDaniel says they always encourage people to call them if they have concerns about improper fertilization or other issues relating to Missouri's natural resources.

"We appreciate the concerns of the citizens. We always look into these concerns to make sure that application is occurring correctly," McDaniel said.

The hog farm in Arkansas opened back in 2013. It operated there until it closed last June.