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Community Ass'n for the Restoration of the Environment, Inc. v. Cow Palace, LLC

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20008
Nos. 13-CV-3016, (E.D. Wash., 01/14/2015) (Rice, J.)

A district court held that a dairy's application, storage, and management of manure violated RCRA's substantial and imminent endangerment and open dumping provisions. Manure can generally be a useful product when stored and subsequently used as fertilizer. Here, however, the dairy applied manure in amounts well beyond what its agricultural crops would require as a fertilizer. The dairy also stored the manure in lagoons that leaked and on permeable surfaces that allowed its constituents to freely leach into the soil, resulting in dangerous accumulations of nitrate in the environment. These activities transformed the manure, an otherwise beneficial and useful product, into a discarded material and, thus, a RCRA solid waste. In addition, while disputed issues of material fact remain as to impacts to surface water, the evidence clearly demonstrates that the dairy's operations are contributing to high levels of nitrate that are currently contaminating the underlying groundwater. The court also concluded that all of the named defendants are responsible parties under RCRA. The court will determine the surface water issue, as well as remedies, at trial.