OKLAHOMA agriculture board allows hog farms to continue operating - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

OKLAHOMA agriculture board allows hog farms to continue operating

STILWELL, Okla. (AP) _ A hog farm accused of polluting drinking water can continue operating in the Oklahoma Panhandle, the state agriculture board has ruled.

The Oklahoma Board of Agriculture said Seaboard Farms Inc. can continue raising 25,000 hogs at a farm in Beaver County.

The state attorney general's office, which has battled the hog farm for two years, plans to take the fight back to district court.

``I expect we'll win there,'' said Kelly Burch, assistant attorney general.

The attorney general's office and the Oklahoma Wildlife Department claim the hog farm is violating pollution laws. The Environmental Protection Agency says private water supplies have been contaminated by lagoons of hog manure.

Seaboard spokesman Gary Reckrodt said the farm is obeying pollution laws.

``We feel like we're operating legally under the permit and complying with the laws of the state of Oklahoma,'' he said.

``We're obviously pleased with the board's decision and we're anxious to move forward beyond this issue and continue to raise high-quality Oklahoma pork.''

The farm dilutes hog waste with millions of gallons of water that is collected in lagoons before being sprayed on the ground. Officials say the lagoon liners have five-inch cracks and one lagoon has an 18-foot berm made of sand that is near a stream leading to the Beaver River Wildlife Refuge.

``If that 18-foot berm breaks, six million gallons of wastewater would be discharged ... right on top of the wildlife area,'' Burch said.

Seaboard began trucking in water earlier this month to residents near five of the company's hog farms.

EPA spokeswoman Cynthia Fanning said Seaboard has promised to deliver 100 gallons of water per day to each of the 20 residents in Kingfisher and Major counties where the EPA found evidence of groundwater contamination.

The agency instructed residents in four households to stop drinking their tap water after samples indicated dangerously high levels of nitrates, which is converted by the body into a compound that interferes with the blood's ability to carry oxygen.
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