Investigation underway into hog waste spill

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CALLAWAY COUNTY - A Missouri Department of Natural Resources investigation is underway into what exactly caused a 10,000 gallon hog waste spill into a tributary of Miller Creek.

The spill was originally discovered by local farmer Ronnie O'Neal when he was working on his property. He noticed black sludge flowing through his drainage ditch.

O'Neal called the Department of Natural Resource (DNR) which then came to the property and collected water samples for testing.

According to O'Neal and Jeff Jones, another farmer, the spill started during or after hog waste fertilizer was spread on the property of the Horstmeier family. 

This same family is attempting to sell land to Iowa-based Eichelberger Farms Inc. to start a concentrated animal feeding operation, also known as a CAFO, which would house about 10,000 pigs.

The move drew backlash from neighbors and citizens in the town of Fulton. More than 1,200 residents signed a petition in an attempt to prevent the plan from going through.

"We're not scared of change, but some change needs to be stopped because we can't see that having a positive impact," Jones said.

Jones also said if this same spill occurred with a larger CAFO would've had an effect on the entire town of Fulton, not just neighbors of the Horstmeiers.

"If they can see the issues it's brought about as they bring these large CAFOs through the areas that are highly populated, I think it's very clear to see, yes, this is just the beginning. As more CAFOs come in, this is just the tip of the iceberg," Jones said.

The DNR expects the water test results to come back in about three weeks. This will be just in time for the November 6 meeting at which the DNR will decide whether or not to give out a operating permit for the large CAFO.

KOMU 8 reached out to Darren Horstmeier but he said he had no comment on the situation.

Farmer Jeff Jones stands next to a murky tributary of Miller Creek in Mark Twain National Forest on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in Callaway County, Missouri. A hog waste spill from Horstmeier Farms ran through the tributary on Tuesday.

Farmers Jeff Jones, left, and Ronnie O'Neal, right, discuss details of a hog waste spill that occurred two days prior on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in Callaway County, Missouri. The waste originated at Horstmeier Farms and drained down through O'Neal's property before reaching Mark Twain National Forest.

Smoke billows from a building at Horstmeier Farms where deceased hogs are incinerated on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in Callaway County, Missouri. Hog waste fertilizer was being spread on the Horstmeier's property when a large spill entered a tributary of Miller Creek on Tuesday.