Herald and Journal, July 30, 2001

County attorney, MPCA work on deal for Metro Dairy

By Lynda Jensen

The Wright County Attorney's Office and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) are joining forces to come up with an agreement regarding a court case against the owner of Metro Dairy, Waverly, and a Metro Dairy employee related to violations of the county feedlot ordinance.

The court case was continued last Friday until Sept. 7, when the MPCA will make a recommendation, said Assistant County Attorney Tom Zins.

The action is unusual because the MPCA is a civil process and the attorney's office is criminal; however the defendant requested the arrangement, Zins said.

This is called a "global settlement" in legal terms, Zins said, and means that "all the issues" will be discussed with the parties together.

The charges are related to an estimated 100,000 gallons of liquid manure that spilled March 15 when earthen lagoons at the dairy overflowed into a storm water pond three miles south of Waverly, and discharged thousands of gallons of liquid manure into a county ditch in Woodland Township.

Owner Virgil Scherping was charged with a number of charges related to violating the county feedlot ordinance. Employee Chad Duenow was also charged with violating state MPCA reporting and remediation requirements.

The duo have been released on their own personal recognizance, with the stipulations that they both remain law abiding citizens, attend future court appearances, and incur no further violations.

Since the spill, many residents near the site have been using bottled water.

The MPCA has been testing about 10 neighboring wells on a monthly basis for contamination.

"I don't know what to make of all this," neighbor Margaret Millerbernd said.

Metro Dairy supplied complimentary bottled water to its neighbors for one month, Millerbernd said.

Currently, MPCA tests the air on the Millerbernd property once each month with the device shown.

The machine is a continual air tester that checks every so often for hydrogen sulfide, which is toxic.

Levels of detectable toxins have been low so far since the lagoons were drained for the spring and the weather has been wet, Millerbernd said.

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