Pig farm foes turn noses up at expansion

Pig farm foes turn noses up at expansion

There are 28 comments on the Baltimore Sun story from Dec 18, 2007, titled Pig farm foes turn noses up at expansion. In it, Baltimore Sun reports that:

Mark and Diane Thomas were accustomed to farm life when they moved from Maryland into a charming 1830s log home here on 19 acres.

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York, PA

#21 Dec 28, 2007
Questions surround local hog farm
Record Express Staff
An investigation continues into the integrity of two buildings housing thousands of hogs in Penn Township and located within the Lititz watershed.
Sean Furjanic of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a report late last week of his preliminary findings from a Nov. 28 inspection of the farm located at 762 W. Lexington Rd.
The farm, owned by Dale Rohrer, was brought to DEP's attention after allegations that two hog barns built in 2004 do not meet standards set by the Natural Resources Conservation Service the benchmark used by the commonwealth.
In the report released by DEP, Furjanic and another DEP employee, Victor Landis, met with Rohrer on Nov. 28 and walked around one of the two barns constructed in 2004. Landis dug a 2 to 3 foot hole along the side of the barn to see in any manure was leaking from the structure.
The report determined that the walls were built of concrete block and no leaks were visible from the location of inspection. The report also said there was some standing water at the bottom of the hole, but Furjanic did not observe any manure.
After the inspection, Rohrer was asked to provide documentation that the structures were designed or certified by an engineer, but he could not provide any documentation about certification.
Furjanic instructed Rohrer to hire a registered engineer to conduct an evaluation to determine if the structures comply with NRCS standards, and if they don't, to decide options for upgrading the structures to meet the standards.
Rohrer has hired an engineer to do the evaluation, and he must file a report with DEP by Dec. 16 stating the findings.
Part of the investigation will go into whether the manure-capturing structures located inside the barns are classified as a "shallow pit manure structure," which Furjanic thinks is the case, or if they meet the qualifications of a "flush alley," which is the position of Rohrer. Each structure calls for differing NRCS standards.
Furjanic said a shallow pit manure structure provides a minimum manure storage capacity. He said other features include transfer lines at the end of the pits which removes the manure to an outdoor holding lagoon and also caps at the end of the pits that can be pulled to drain the manure. Rohrer's structures are built with caps at the end.
Furjanic said a flush alley is usually found in dairy barns and aids in the removal of solid waste to the outdoor lagoon. He said the difference between the pit and the flush alley is that a pit will hold manure until it is drained while a flush alley is not capped and continually removes the manure.
"What Mr. Rohrer has is not typically what we would consider a flush alley," Furjanic said.
Rohrer said the definition of flush alleys he found is that they can contain up to 18 inches of waste in the pits. He said at any given time there is usually between zero to 12 inches of waste in his pits.
Rohrer said his pits are flushed out every five days with the waste going to holding lagoons outside of the buildings. It is in these lagoons where the process of separating solid from the liquid waste takes place.
Rohrer said inspectors have different interpretations for the requirements of the permits. He said Jim Miller, the original DEP employee who gave the go-ahead on the project, determined that the structures met the requirements of flush alleys.
"If I would have went to (Furjanic) for my permits, he would have had a different opinion than Jim Miller," Rohrer said.
While Furjanic said the pits at Rohrer's farm do not meet his definition of a flush alley, he said the system is better than most shallow pit manure systems because the manure is routinely removed on a set schedule, which doesn't allow ammonia gasses to build, and it also uses recycled water instead of fresh water to flush the system.

York, PA

#22 Dec 28, 2007
Questions surround local hog farm
Record Express Staff

But once the system was placed into operation in 2004, no inspector from DEP was required to come and inspect the structures to make sure they were built to code.
Bill Rogers of Agricultural, Environmental & Technical Consulting, Rohrer's technical advisor for the project, said in agricultural buildings there is no such thing as a Labor and Industry inspector, the equivalent of someone who certifies public building projects such as school constructions.
Furjanic said it is not DEP's responsibility to come out and inspect barns once they go into operation. He said different municipalities have different protocols to inspect the barns once they are finished.
"I think that someone at the local level would have an interest," Furjanic said. "We don't know about these (pits) unless they're brought to us."
Penn Township's own zoning ordinance states that all manure storage facilities have to comply with guidelines outlined in the publication Manure Management for Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Quality Management Publication No. 43, and any revisions from the Pennsylvania DEP.
The ordinance also states that "all waste storage facilities' designs shall be reviewed by the Lancaster County Conservation District." The construction and operation of the waste storage facility has to be in accordance with the permit and approved design.
Even with these ordinances, Penn Township does not require any inspector to come to the site to make an inspection once the operation has started.
The only records provided by Penn Township relating to the project included the building permit issued by Tom Ernharth, the former township manager, a letter from Northeast Agri Systems, the designers of the project, and a site plan of the project.
The building permit states that the estimated cost of the project was $406,000 and a fee of $6,125 was levied by the township. In the description of the proposed buildings, the only thing that is written is "30' round" and a series of dimensions of the structures. No mention is made of what the project entails.
Rohrer said the project cost around $2 million in the new additions and close to $3 million once all the new equipment was figured into the project.
Ultimately the biggest issue with DEP is to make sure manure from the barns is not leaking into the Lititz watershed and polluting the town's water with elevated nitrate levels. Furjanic said preliminary inspections did not reveal a leak, but that an engineer will be able to determine the potential for leaks.
Rogers said in the short term there is a minimal risk of leaks, but as time goes on the potential arises for cracks. However, he said there is the potential for leaks in any concrete manure storage facility and that there are safeguards in place to determine if leaks are present.
Rogers said one of the biggest deterrents to building an unstable structure on a farm is the potential to pollute wells on the property that provide water for the daily operations on the farm.
Rohrer said he has three wells on his property, two of which are located near the barns in question and a third in his fields. He said the one well produces eight gallons of water per-minute, the second produces 12 gallons per-minute and the third produces 30 gallons per-minute.
"If (Rohrer) knew the flush alleys were going to leak, why would he put them there polluting his own wells," Rogers said. "If he did that, he could say 'there goes the mortgage payment.'"
Jasper county


#23 Dec 28, 2007
check out wahm diary on the net for some dairies in jasper county use powerplant waste called flyash to bed their cows LOADED WITH ARSENIC! and currently their is over 50,000 cows in our county
Pigs In PA

Altoona, PA

#24 May 2, 2008
2500 to 5000 Pigs come to Martinsburg PA
I live in a small town of Martinsburg PA and a local farm would like to put in 2,500 to 5,000 pigs. We have no zoning and need help in stopping this type of miss farming any help is wlecome and needed.
Laura Wat wrote:
I personally have been working with the concerned citizens group and also have a relative who is very knowledgable of the ramifications such a factory would pose on our Chesapeake Bay watershed. The farmer proposing this factory expansion truly needs to educate himself on what this will do to the community. He stands to earn an enormous profit from the proposed expansion if passed as do some of the surrounding farners who agreed to allow the spread of the tons of pig manure on their fields. If he REALLY understood what this proposed expansion would do to his family and their health he would NEVER propose to spread the manure around the fields in nearby and surrounding land. Instead he would ethically ship it to flat barren land in the mid west where a hog factory in Whiteford (northern Harford County) currently disposes of the pig waste in this manner. Maryland law requires it to be handled this way. Get your legislators in PA to pass such laws to prevent farmers such as Gemmill from polluting our already polluted tributaries.
Pigs In PA

Altoona, PA

#25 May 2, 2008
2500 to 5000 Pigs come to Martinsburg PA
I live in a small town of Martinsburg PA and a local farm would like to put in 2,500 to 5,000 pigs. We have no zoning and need help in stopping this type of miss farming any help is wlecome and needed.
Mark Samlie

Kingston, PA

#26 Mar 17, 2009
David Newman of Northeast Agri Systems, confirmed to be lying. Farm was constructed illegally and without permits.


>>> VIDEO: Watch this video of Northeast Agri Systems President David Newman, attesting on camera (speaking to WGAL reporter Meredith Jorgensen) as to the fact that their work at Rohrer's Lexington Acres was done according to the certified plans and designs (it wasn't), that it was safe (it wasn't and isn't), and that there was no "evidence" of leakage at that time (there was). It's not surprising that he makes this choice of words, rather than stating that there was no leakage. You can see his discomfort at making these statements -- note his darting eyes and the flub at the end of the interview and his clumsy use of the word "constructively," referring to the construction of the barns at Rohrer's farm. Within very little time after this interview aired, his misrepresentations were exposed. <<<
Mark Samlie

Kingston, PA

#27 Mar 17, 2009
Shame on Northeast Agri Systems, and their council who also signed off on their false statements.


Reese, Pugh & Samley, Wagenseller & Mecum PC.
Angry in Delta

Jarrettsville, MD

#28 Mar 22, 2009
The bigger problem we face is the lack of concern by a board of elected officials. We have seen time and time again how these elected officials brush under the rug blatant discrepancies over zoning and refuse to entertain any policies that would affect their abilites to reap financial gains for themselves. A pity and a crying shame, they are a large part of the problem!

It is sickening to me that in this township people refuse to register to vote so that they can avoid jury duty and then turn a blind eye to the destruction of the properties they so closely value. At least once a week I am seeing homes being abandoned in this neighborhood, now is it because of the pig farm or because of the economy? Either way, it is happening and it is a crime to wantonly destroy the country way of life that we all willingly moved here to enjoy.

I have no problem with farms obviously as I fully accept that we already have a few large Amish farms, a very large chicken farm, and at least three cow barns admist the lush tomato, corn, soy, etc fields. Mind you this is all within a 1 mile radius of where this damned pig farm is slated to be built. Why the hell would we want a pig farm to ruin the symbiosis of what we have going on here? The Gemmils are greedy.

Do the Gemmils even know how many young families with young children live in Delta and surrounding Delta? Are they so blinded by a buck that they are willing to risk their own health and prodginy?

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