A group of Nippenose Township residents made it clear Tuesday night that they want relief from what they said are unbearable odors and unliveable conditions while animal waste is being spread in nearby farmlands.
Carol Kline, of Antes Fort, spoke during a township supervisors meeting on behalf of several people belonging to the so-called "Concerned Citizens Group of Antes Fort."
She called on the supervisors to put a halt to the practice of spreading animal waste used as fertilizer on township fields, citing the associated stench, flies, potential health hazards and threats to residents' wells.
Kline blamed supervisors and the state Department of Environmental Protection for failing to enforce existing laws that would help citizens who are dealing with the issue that they say is caused by Brett Bowes, of 305 Nippenose Road, who spreads the liquefied animal waste on farmland operated by William R. Camerer.
"We feel our community has been a residual food waste dump," she said.
Bowes is allowed to spread up to 21 million gallons of animal waste that comes from Nicholas Meat Packing, 508 E. Valley Road, Loganton, according to a nutrient management plan approved by DEP and the Lycoming County Conservation District.
Corey Grove, a nutrient management commercial planner with Team Ag, of Ephrata, said the slaughterhouse byproduct is organically better than manure spread on farmers' fields.
"I know there's a lot of misinformation out there," Grove said, who added that he was present at the supervisors' meeting to try to dispel myths and rumors.
Team Ag was hired by Bowes to fill out paperwork and help develop what Grove said was a nutrient balance sheet, which is used by DEP and the conservation district.
He said the waste is comprised of blood, manure and wash water that contains biodegradable sanitizers. The product helps plant growth and adds to soil health.
Grove said Bowes has spread the material both on top of the soil and by injection.
He did say that a violation did occur in early April because Bowes did not spread on the proper area. That's when residents said they saw the waste enter a nearby stream.
"It did not reach the river," Grove said, adding that the incident quickly was mitigated.
DEP did issue a violation letter regarding the incident, but Grove said "it has been taken care of."
At the meeting, Bowes said he did not have to pay a fine for the incident, but instead was issued field maps to assist him in spreading in the correct areas.
One citizen, however, said he witnessed the waste being disbursed from a stationary point for about 20 minutes, which caused pooling.
"This application (of waste) has been incessant," said Steve Muthler.
Kline said that four area families have had their wells contaminated by the process and that a child at one family is experiencing health problems as a result of the spreading.
"You won't laugh when you're sick," she said as she motioned to several of Bowes' relatives at the back of the Antes Fort Volunteer Fire Co. social hall, where the meeting took place.
Residents also were upset that a 2.4 million gallon storage tank was built on Camerer's land to hold stockpiles of the waste without the need for a permit.
"Even to put a railing outside your porch requires a permit," said Kline.
At one point, Supervisor Charles Bastian asked Kline to stop talking.
"You people say the same thing," he said. "These farmers are allowed to farm the field, and the state says they can do it. They do not allow us to control agriculture."
One man, who asked not to be identified, told supervisors to enforce zoning ordinances already on the books.
"I don't know a zoning ordinance against stink," Bastian replied.