DAVIESS COUNTY, Ky. (KPNS/Messenger Inquirer)– An industrial hog farm has been investigated for allegedly releasing wastewater from its facility into the Green River.
The Hardy Sow Farm, a part of Jerry O’Bryan’s O’Bryan Farms operation, has been given a notice of violation from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Water after inspectors found evidence of an illegal discharge resulting in a sample with extreme levels of E. coli bacteria.
On July 13, inspectors from the DOW were guided by a local complainant to an area on the banks of the Green River, where they found a 3-inch hose discharging dark tan water with a foul odor into a concrete-filled ditch leading to the river, according to the resulting report. The report said inspectors observed the hose ran directly from the Hardy Sow Farm’s lagoon where animal waste is collected.
O’Bryan said he wasn’t aware a hose was discharging into the river and didn’t know why it would be there in the first place, but he was fully prepared to cooperate with DOW.
“I was not the person that did the violating, but it was on my property, so I’m responsible,” O’Bryan said. “If everybody could just jump up and say ‘I didn’t do it’ and it wash away, they would, but that’s not how the world works.”
The farm currently operates under a nondischarge permit, meaning it isn’t authorized to release anything into local waterways. It is permitted to spray effluent from its waste lagoon unto fields as long as they are a certain distance from homes.
O’Bryan said the way in which the hose was found by inspectors discharging into the river without any cover wouldn’t make sense if he was trying to illegally drain his lagoon.
“You couldn’t have done what was out there without getting caught,” O’Bryan said. “There is no way to prove what was done, but that hose didn’t fall out of the sky.”
He said the facility has had issues with trespassers in the past, and his company was looking into investing in security cameras and fences.
During the investigation, DOW agents took three samples from the area the waste was being dumped, an upstream ditch near the farm and from the lagoon. All three samples came back with extremely high levels of E. coli.
Lanny Brannock, a Division of Water spokesperson, said the case was now under the jurisdiction of DOW’s enforcement division and is being viewed as a serious violation.
Brannock said civil charges are usually levied in situations like this case, but any additional information about the enforcement division’s decision won’t be public until the case has been resolved.