Friday, July 05, 2002

High court won't hear farm's appeal

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — The Ohio Supreme Court has handed another legal setback to the state's largest egg farm, refusing to hear Buckeye Egg Farm's appeal of a ruling that it wrongfully received permits allowing it to expand its flock by 800,000 chickens in Wyandot County.

        In March, the 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals found that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency illegally authorized Buckeye Egg to build two new barns near Marseilles.

        Ruling on a lawsuit filed by neighbors of the barns, the court agreed the state EPA failed to test air pollution from the confined-animal operation in 1998 before it granted the permits.

        The Supreme Court's refusal Wednesday to get involved came a day after a Licking County judge ordered Buckeye Egg to begin shutting down its barns in Wyandot and Hardin counties because of a fly outbreak this spring.

        Judge Gregory Frost of Licking County Common Pleas Court ordered the company to shut down one barn every two weeks beginning Aug. 19 until it can show the court the problem has been corrected.

        The appellate court, in its March ruling, said former EPA director Donald Schregardus determined the Marseilles farm was exempt from air pollution regulations without first inspecting it as required under Ohio law.

        It ordered the agency to review the issue.

        Buckeye Egg said a subsequent state inspection showed the company did not need to install equipment to filter air from manure lagoons under the chicken barns.

        But residents persuaded the U.S. EPA to order Buckeye Egg to test the air last summer. The tests found that exhaust from the chicken barns was so dirty that the company should be regulated as a power plant or factory.

        The company has 112 barns with 15.5 million chickens in Wyandot, Hardin and Licking counties in central and northwest Ohio.


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