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Published June 25, 2009, 08:26 AM

Thief River Falls dairy farm declared health hazard

After failing to meet a June 12 deadline to remove manure from three uncovered outdoor basins, a rural Thief River Falls 1,500-cow dairy farm that has been declared a public health hazard has been granted another month to get the job done.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

THIEF RIVER FALLS – After failing to meet a June 12 deadline to remove manure from three uncovered outdoor basins, a rural Thief River Falls 1,500-cow dairy farm that has been declared a public health hazard has been granted another month to get the job done.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens Board on Tuesday set a new deadline of July 20 for the dairy, which operates under the corporate name of Dairy Dozen, LLC, according to Gaylen Reetz, director of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s regional division.

“They made it clear that their expectation is that there be some resolution prior to next board meeting,” Reetz said.

Representatives for Excel Dairy told the board at the meeting Tuesday in St. Paul that the dairy has a company under contract to get the basins pumped out within a matter of weeks, as soon as it’s dry enough to accomplish the task, according to Reetz.

Excel Dairy, which opened in 2007, has been shut down since January, after Minnesota Health Department air-quality tests showed average hydrogen sulfide levels in the surrounding air exceeded state and federal standards throughout much of 2008.

The Citizens Board granted the dairy a new one-year operating permit at its April 28 meeting, stipulating that dairy cows cannot be returned to the dairy and it cannot open until the basins are cleaned and covered.

Other requirements the dairy must meet to comply with the permit deal with the size and number of cows allowed at the facility.

The dairy is located in Marshall County, just across the Pennington County line.

The county feedlot ordinance does not apply to Excel because the dairy was operating before the law was adopted. But the county ordinance would apply if the dairy would expand or modify its operation.

The dairy was licensed to operate with 1,545 animal units.

At the April 28 meeting, neighbors, county officials and representatives of the state attorney general’s office argued that a new permit be denied and that the dairy should be closed permanently.

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