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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Environment - "Manure Raises New Stink" says WSJ

Updating this ILB entry from Sept. 15, 2009 which reported "Neighbors have complained about giant bubbles in the lagoon's synthetic liner appearing above the surface of the lagoon," and this one from Oct. 18, 2008, which included this quote:

"These bubbles are now enormous and are likely caused by manure leaking under the liner," according to Carpenter. "The liner is failing, which could lead to ground water contamination."
the WSJ reports today, in a story by Lauren Etter with this sub-head: "Giant Gas Bubbles in Indiana Dairy Farm's Waste Pond Frighten Neighbors." Some quotes:
WINCHESTER, Ind.—Like many of his neighbors, farmer Tony Goltstein has to deal with the aftermath of the dairy bubble.

But besides his mounting financial troubles, Mr. Goltstein also must contend with bubbles the size of small houses that have sprouted from the pool of manure at his Union Go Dairy Farm. Some are 20 feet tall, inflated with the gas released by 21 million gallons of decomposing cow manure.

But he has a plan. It requires a gas mask, a small boat and a Swiss Army knife.

The saga of Mr. Goltstein's bubbles, which are big enough to be seen in satellite photos, began about seven years ago and traces the recent boom and bust of U.S. dairy farmers. * * *

This month, Mr. Goltstein asked state regulators to let him pop the bubbles. He said he and his 19-year-old son would slice them open with a knife from a paddleboat.

Bruce Palin, assistant commissioner for the office of land quality at the state environmental agency, said officials were considering the idea. But, he added, "not knowing how much volume of gas is there and how much pressure is on it, we're concerned with just cutting a hole."

Last year, a hog farmer in Hayfield, Minn., was launched 40 feet into the air in an explosion caused by methane gas from a manure pit on his farm. He sustained burns and singed hair.

Mr. Goltstein's attorney, Glenn D. Bowman, acknowledged that the potential existed for an explosion: "We're aware of that sort of common physics issue," he said.

If and when the bubbles are deflated, state officials said, they will be there to keep watch.

That's little consolation to many of Mr. Goltstein's neighbors.

"If they don't do it right..." Mr. Hutchison said, shaking his head as his voice trailed off.

Mr. Palin, the state official, said, "Obviously you don't want to be smoking a cigarette when you open this thing up."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 25, 2010 01:09 PM
Posted to Environment