25 May 2011

Stench and cruelty: Factory egg farm ruled a nuisance by federal grand jury

Residents of Central Valley, Calif., along with the help of non-profit animal protection organization HSUS, have won their case against a factory egg farm that was putting the health and olfactory senses of the townspeople at risk.

The case, filed against Olivera Egg Ranch, alleged “that the horrific stench and painful effects of ammonia and other noxious emissions from the facility’s 13-acre liquid manure cesspool was destroying the local community.”

Ya think?

On May 24, the federal grand jury handling the case issued a verdict stating that Olivera was indeed a nuisance under California law and ordered the operator of the stinky ammonia producing factory farm—that wasn’t actually the exact verbiage—to pay neighboring residents $500,000.

“The day of reckoning has finally come for one of the Central Valley’s most notorious air polluters,” said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for Animal Protection Litigation at HSUS. “This facility crams hundreds of thousands of hens into tiny wire cages on just a few acres -- day after day, year after year. The result is massive air pollution and liquid waste, and unimaginable suffering for both the animals inside and the people outside in the community.”

Apparently Olivera dumps around 133,000 pounds of manure from its operations everyday into cesspools the size of a golf course.

These enormous collections of waste release large plumes of ammonia, a substance classified as “extremely hazardous” that has been linked to damaging effects ranging from lung damage to degradation of local fish habitat to even death in humans.

If all of that fun filled information was not enough to make you shake your head in disbelief, according to HSUS:

In February of 2009, the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District issued six notices of violation against Olivera related to its failure to obtain permits that could have lead to better waste handling practices. Olivera has also been sanctioned more than $143,057 by the court for willfully destroying evidence related to air pollution on its property after the lawsuit was filed.

It’s a wonder how such an upstanding operation such as Olivera could have lost this case.

Eric Fortney | @elfortney | email
Eric is the co-founder and executive editor of the animal rights and eco-friendly news source, This Dish Is Veg. In addition to his work at TDIV, Eric is a father of three, runner, and lover of the outdoors.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/jpf