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[Archived] Official DNR didn't inform state about Newton County expansion

| Environmental Issues | April 21, 2017


Oklahoma's secretary of the environment is asking the Missouri Department 
of Natural Resources to withhold issuing permits for egg producer Moark's 
planned expansion in Newton County until the locations of waste-disposal 
sites are identified..."Joplin Globe" 
Official DNR didn't inform state about Newton County expansion proposal
By Melissa DeLoach
Globe Staff Writer
6/28/05


Oklahoma's secretary of the environment is asking the Missouri Department 
of Natural Resources to withhold issuing permits for egg producer Moark's 
planned expansion in Newton County until the locations of waste-disposal 
sites are identified.


In a letter to the DNR, Miles Tolbert also states that the Missouri agency 
failed to inform Oklahoma regulators or any other state agencies of Moark's 
plans, as required by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.


Moark is seeking approval from the DNR to build 13 houses in Newton County 
that would hold 200,000 chickens each, totaling 2.6 million birds. Moark 
says it now has 1.3 million birds in the county. The company has said new 
technology will help with an odor problems and will substantially reduce 
the operation's water consumption.


"Without the location of the potential waste disposal sites, the state of 
Oklahoma cannot realistically assess the potential environmental impacts of 
the draft permits at this time," Tolbert stated in the letter addressed to 
Peter Goode, chief of the permit and engineering section of the DNR's water 
protection program.


Kerry Cordray, the DNR's information officer for water protection and soil 
conservation, confirmed that the DNR received Tolbert's letter, but said he 
could not respond at this time to the secretary's comments.


Mark Adams, who is among 2,500 Newton County residents who backers say have 
signed a petition against the expansion plan, said Tolbert's comments show 
that Moark's expansion proposal is not just limited to Missouri.


Waste and its potential effects on water quality are among Adams' concerns.


"If Missouri decides 'Well, OK Moark, don't send anything to Oklahoma,' 
there goes the Oklahoma dumping ground," Adams said. "Well, if Kansas says 
the same thing, then where is the waste going to go? What is Moark going to 
do with it?


"Oklahoma is tired of being the dumping ground."


Cordray said Tolbert's letter would be treated "very much like the other 
public comment" that the DNR has received.


"A (letter) will be forthcoming, and at the same time that we provide the 
response to all the comments that were received," Cordray said. "The normal 
time for that to occur is when the permit decision is made. As I understand 
it, we are on track for the normal time frame."


A decision on Moark's request for a permit for expansion is to be made by 
summer's end.


Oklahoma is weighing in on the issue because the draft permits are for 
proposed activities upstream of Oklahoma and potentially may involve 
permitted activities in the state, Tolbert said in the letter. The letter 
stated that his chief concerns are related to Elk River and Spring River 
tributaries, both of which flow into Oklahoma.


Both of these streams are in the watershed of Fort Gibson Reservoir, which 
is designated as "nutrient-limited" in the Oklahoma Water Quality 
Standards. Tolbert stated in the letter that the draft permits do not 
address how Moark would protect the approved water-quality standards for 
Elk River in Oklahoma.


Tolbert's letter said Oklahoma is concerned about Moark's environmental 
record in Missouri.


"Moark has consistently violated the terms and conditions of their existing 
permits," he said. "What assurances are there that the proposed permits 
will not just be a continuation of past problems and an undocumented source 
of additional nutrient loads to an already sensitive area?"


Dan Hudgens, Moark's Midwest regional manager, could not be reached for 
comment Monday. But, company officials have defended the plan, saying that 
technology will make the expansion environmentally friendly and that the 
company will continue to be a good neighbor.