Judge bars Missouri from moving ahead on Randolph County waste lagoon permit

Workers at meat processing plant (Photo courtesy United States Government Accountability Office via Wikipedia)
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(Missouri Independent) – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is barred from moving forward with a permit for an animal waste lagoon north of Columbia, following a judge’s ruling on Thursday.

Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green issued a writ of prohibition in a case that Randolph County residents filed against the state. The department cannot take further action without court permission.

A spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources said the state agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit stems from a proposed permit for Denali Water Solutions, an Arkansas-based waste disposal company, to build a lagoon in Randolph County. Local residents have objected, raising concerns about the smell and detrimental effects on neighbors.

“A lagoon like this, full of food wastes, industrial sludges, animal processing wastes, and grease, will be a disaster for the local area,” said Steve Gieseking, a farmer and member of Citizens of Randolph County Against Pollution, or CRAP, in a press release.

Denali did not immediately return a request for comment.

CRAP’s lawsuit claims that Denali built an earthen basin capable of holding 15 million gallons without a construction permit. The company then applied for a permit from the DNR to apply waste from the lagoon to the surrounding land as fertilizer.

Filings with the DNR said the basin will hold “wastewater residuals from various food and vegetable processing plants, animal processing plants, and animal food processing plants, as well as processing wash-down rinse water, dissolved air flotation skimmings, waste activated sludge, wastewater lagoon sludge, and grease trap waste,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that the company presented itself primarily as a “soil preparation services” business, but it has received more than 250 permits in Arkansas as a “refuse systems” company.

In July, the DNR issued a draft permit to Denali, which CRAP is challenging. The lawsuit argues that the state applied a permit exemption for which Denali isn’t eligible, as it didn’t require the company to obtain a construction permit.

“CRAP alleges that the DNR failed to require Denali to obtain the proper permits under the Missouri Solid Waste Management Law, a process that can take several years,” the news release states.

The DNR has not yet filed a response.

Sharon Turner, a fellow CRAP member, said in the news release that the group formed to bring public attention to the issue. She said, “We just do not believe it is right for a waste disposal company to tell the DNR they are in the agricultural business just so they can get a permit.”

(Photo courtesy United States Government Accountability Office via Wikipedia)

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Allison Kite


Allison Kite is a data reporter for The Missouri Independent and Kansas Reflector, with a focus on the environment and agriculture. A graduate of the University of Kansas, she’s covered state government in both Topeka and Jefferson City, and most recently was City Hall reporter for The Kansas City Star.