Major Lawsuit Filed To Protect Maryland Waterways
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCEAN CITY, MD – March 2, 2010 – Assateague Coastkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance announced today that it has filed a lawsuit in the federal District Court of Maryland, against Alan and Kristin Hudson Farm – a Perdue-contract chicken factory farm in Berlin, MD – and Perdue Farms, Inc., for illegal discharges of harmful pollution into the Franklin Branch of the Pocomoke River, which empties into the Chesapeake Bay. The filing of the litigation follows a failure by Hudson Farm and Perdue to correct the violations during the 60-day period after a notice of intent to sue was filed on December 17, 2009.
"Hudson Farm and Perdue had the opportunity to stop the pollution that puts state residents and the waterways of Maryland at great risk," said Assateague Coastkeeper Kathy Phillips. "Unfortunately, they chose to ignore this reasonable approach and instead Perdue sought to create the false impression that our concerns were unfounded." She added, "Illegal pollution is illegal pollution and that is what we are dealing with in this situation. Since Perdue has not seen fit to respond to our notice, we had no choice but to respond to their recalcitrance with this next step in the legal process."
Hudson Farm, a contract Perdue factory farm operation, consists of an 80,000-bird Concentrated Animal Feed Operation (CAFO) owned by Alan Hudson. The lawsuit is based, in part, on the results of water sampling from ditches that ran adjacent to the property. These samples established that high levels of many harmful bacteria were flowing from the facility, including fecal coliform and E. coli in concentrations that far exceed the limits set by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) for recreational waters. Phosphorus and nitrogen were also found in the discharges, both pollutants that contribute to the nutrient pollution choking the Chesapeake Bay. Sampling by the MDE five weeks after the December 17 notice confirmed continuing high levels of fecal coliform and E. coli in the ditches flowing from the production area of the facility.
"The Eastern Shore is one of the most abundant and productive coastal waterways in the United States, and we can no longer afford to ignore the pollution and contamination of these waters," said Scott Edwards, Director of Advocacy for Waterkeeper Alliance. "We need to take action against persistent violators like Hudson Farm and Perdue to protect the future of the Chesapeake and all who depend on it."
Corporate-owned, large-scale factory farm facilities in Maryland and other states nationwide produce and recycle a significant amount of waste. As a result of discharges from manure stockpiling, these CAFOs pollute drinking and recreational water supplies by fouling rivers, lakes, streams and underground aquifers with untreated manure.
"It is essential for everyone to take responsibility to reduce the impacts associated with uncontrolled management of manure and other fertilizers," said Liane Curtis, Staff Attorney at Waterkeeper Alliance. "We need to stop avoidable, illegal pollution from all sources – including industrial agriculture."
Waterkeepers will be represented by attorneys with Waterkeeper Alliance, Chris Nidel of Nidel Law, and by the University of Maryland Law School Environmental Law Clinic under Director Jane F. Barrett.
Waterkeeper Alliance photos of the Hudson Farm property are available upon request and at www.assateaguecoastkeeper.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Streaming audio replay of this news event will be available online at 4 p.m. EST on March 2, 2010 at www.assateaguecoastkeeper.org.
Assateague Coastkeeper is an on-the-water advocate who patrols and protects the Maryland and northern Virginia Eastern Shore, standing up to polluters and guaranteeing everyone’s right to clean water. More information can be found at www.assateaguecoastkeeper.org.
Waterkeeper Alliance is a global environmental organization uniting more than 190 Waterkeeper programs around the world and focusing citizen advocacy on the issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. More information can be found at www.waterkeeper.org.