NEWTON CO., Ark. (KTHV) - A hog farm on the Buffalo River will be allowed to operate as it appeals a state body's decision to deny them a permit to operate.
It's been a heated debate for almost six years: Should a hog farm be able to operate near the Buffalo River?
At the beginning of the year the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) denied a new permit for the C&H Hog Farm. On Jan. 17, the business owners asked for a stay which is a request to keep operating while they appeal that decision.
However, since C&H hadn't actually filed an appeal yet, the Commission wasn't sure they actually had jurisdiction to offer the stay. Also, the farm's permit expired in October of 2016 which meant they had been operating under an expired permit.
C&H argued the decision by the Director of the ADEQ not to grant them a permit for their business to operate will cause them irreparable economic harm.
"This is our livelihood that you guys are fooling with here. We have done nothing wrong. Have no violations. Been inspected by the EPA, been inspected multiple times by ADEQ, with no violations. For them to say we have intentions of doing anything wrong is ludicrous,” said C&H Co-owner, Jason Henson.
The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance (BRWA) argued there's no proof there will be injury to C&H, but there is proof of algae blooms due to thousands of gallons of untreated hog waste being disposed of each day.
That pollution, they argue, threatens tourism and fishing in the area.
"C&H recently addressed a community meeting in Clarksville, Arkansas discussing their wish to locate a $9 million facility there. So I don't know what their financial means are, but they are looking at investing in a second operation, so I'd assume they have some resources at bay,” argued the BRWA’s president, Gordon Watkins.
In the end, the Commission voted to approve the stay. The stay will remain active as long as attorneys for C&H file their appeal before Feb. 10, 2018. If the appeal is filed and no issues arise, C&H will be allowed to keep operating during the review process, which could last months.
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