State Cites Ritewood Eggs for Manure Spill

State Cites Ritewood Eggs for Manure Spill

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The state has cited Ritewood Eggs of Lewiston for a manure spill in March in which an estimated 2 million gallons of wastewater flowed into the Cub and Bear rivers.

The company breached the dike of a holding pond at its composting facility, allowing wastewater containing manure and chicken body parts to flow into an irrigation ditch that flowed into the Cub River. The confluence with the Bear River was a short distance downstream.

Company executives told state water quality officials that they opened up the holding pond because it was about to overflow with high storm water runoff.

Walt Baker, director of the state Division of Water Quality, said Ritewood had no permit to take such action and no emergency plan to cope with a major spill.

"The breech of that dike and the water being discharged without a permit was egregious," Baker said Monday. "The second issue is how did the company get into a situation where this became an issue. Either the pond was not designed to handle the flows going into it, or there was more flow than they expected. So it could be the pond was improperly designed."

He said the state had no knowledge of the Ritewood composting facility's capacity because the company had not yet filed a comprehensive nutrient management plan. Ritewood officials said that was an oversight.

The company has 30 days to respond to the violation notice, which it received Friday. It could face a fine ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 for each of the five days the violation occurred.,

"At this point, I'm not sure how we'll respond. We're still reviewing it.," said Ritewood co-owner Mark Woodward. "We've been in contact with the Department of Environmental Quality throughout this process, so I don't think there's anything (in the violation notice) that is a surprise."

Ritewood closed its composting operation after the spill, but cannot reopen it until it provides the state with a management plan for it, according to the violation notice. Woodward says the company is currently storing the chicken waste at its Lewiston plant.

Merritt Frey, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council said, "These are steps in the right direction, but they are all things that should have been ordered before the spill and are common sense measures for any facility like Ritewood.

Neighbors have complained about fumes from the composting and about chicken waste they said is spilled by Ritewood trucks en route to the facility.

Baker says the state may also look into possible groundwater contamination.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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