LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Operators of a hog farm in northern Arkansas are unclear when they’ll learn the outcome of their request for a new permit for their concentrated animal feeding operation.
C&H Hog Farms applied in April 2016 for a permit on liquid animal waste systems for the farm near Mount Judea. The farm has been operating on an indefinite extension of its expired permit, which is similar to the new requested permit but has different notification and periodic renewal requirements, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .
People who oppose C&H fear the farm is an environmental risk to the Buffalo River due to the amount of manure produced by the operation. The new permit estimates two waste-holding ponds would contain up to nearly 2,400 gallons of hog manure, which is similar to what is currently contained.
“It seems peculiar to me that they are allowed to operate indefinitely with an expired permit,” said Gordon Watkins, president of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, which formed in 2013 to oppose the hog farm.
The permit is still under review, said Donnally Davis, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Quality.
C&H operators sent information to the department Dec. 29 regarding geological site investigations conducted at the facility, construction plans for its waste management system and the facility’s nutrient management plan. The department requested such information in September.
The state passed a bill in March requiring the department to issue a preliminary decision within 120 days of receiving a new permit application for a liquid animal waste system. The department would then have 60 days to issue a final decision after a public comment period.
“It’s not business-friendly for them to take that long to decide on a permit,” said Democratic Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, who introduced the bill. “That’s the bottom line of why I ran and supported the bill.”
The hog farm is not subject to the new law because C&H had already applied for its new permit by then.