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Cattle in Wallowa River Prompts EPA Penalty Action

Release Date: 9/5/2000
Contact Information: Bub Loiselle
(206) 553-6901

September 5, 2000 - - - - - - - - - - - 00-044

WS Ranches, Inc. of Wallowa, Oregon has been issued a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrative penalty action alleging that feedlot wastes were allowed to enter the Wallowa River in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

The complaint, seeking a penalty of $50,000, was announced today by Bub Loiselle, manager of the water compliance unit at EPA's Northwest regional headquarters in Seattle. "EPA inspectors found that the operators were not doing all that the law requires to keep feedlot waste out of Oregon’s rivers and streams," Loiselle said.

When the ranch was viewed from the air on March 3 and at a site inspection on March 15, EPA inspectors observed cattle coming in direct contact with the Wallowa River and an adjoining spring irrigation ditch, according to the complaint. Samples of the manure-laden waste contained significant levels of both fecal coliform and Escherichia coli (E. Coli) bacteria. These and other associated microorganisms can cause gastroenteritis, severe fever and, in the most serious cases, kidney failure or even death.

WS Ranches, Inc. is required under the compliance order to stop all discharges of waste from the facility and check daily for any discharge; if one is observed, samples must be taken and analyzed by a laboratory for fecal coliforms. Also, EPA must be notified and steps must be taken by WS Ranches to prevent such discharges from happening again.

WS Ranges, Inc. has 30 days from the date they receive the complaint to challenge the penalties EPA has proposed and to contest EPA's allegations.

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