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Farmers File Suit Over Cattle Deaths

Farmers File Suit Over Cattle Deaths

Posted - Oct. 5, 2003 at 6:05 p.m.



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John Hollenhorst reporting Nearly two dozen family farms in Western Utah have been devastated in recent years by the loss of thousands of cows to mysterious ailments.

Now those farmers say they've figured out what's causing the deaths: electrical currents running through the ground from the Intermountain Power Plant.

And they're demanding at least $100-million in damages!

In the last 10 years, many dairy farmers moved to the Delta area from urbanized states, following a dream of wide open spaces and plentiful feed.

Instead, they say it's been a nightmare caused by electrical currents running through the ground.

Every dairy farmer expects a small percentage of cows to die each year. But the mortality rate has been five or ten times the national average on some farms in a ten-mile radius from the Intermountain Power Plant.

Maria Nye/Dairy Farmer: "We brought in experts and we did all the things that a good dairy person should do. It didn't change."

John Hollenhorst/Eyewitness News: "How bad was it?"

Maria Nye: "How many tears do you want?"

John Nye/Dairy Farmer: "When you're working on animals that you know aren't going to get better, and it's ten o'clock at night and you ought to be taking care of your family, you do start to feel anger and frustration."

Mike Cherniske was losing hundreds of cows per year. And then a big clue hit him. One of the Power Plant's turbines shut down for several weeks for maintenance. Suddenly his cows got much better.

And when the power plant revved back up, the sickness rate went right back up with it.

The farmers brought in national experts. They say specialized instruments have repeatedly confirmed measurable stray voltage flowing through the ground.

That's a known problem for cows.

And the ground current allegedly has a unique electronic signature from the Intermountain Power Plant.

A huge $100-million-plus lawsuit is now being fought in California.

Power officials have refused formal comment, although they've denied the allegation.

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