DNR hears concerns about Daybreak Foods

September 26, 2018

LAKE MILLS -- People gathered at the City Municipal Building in Lake Mills to express concern at a public hearing held by the Department of Natural Resources on a air permit for Daybreak Foods Inc. on Friday. The company is expanding to 2,750,000 chickens and the DNR requires it to have an air pollution control permit, which considers chemical-causing odors and chemicals released in the air, according to a press release.

Hope Oostdik, chairwoman of Lake Mills town board, said the town had received many complaints from people in the nearby area about the smells of chicken feces and dead chickens that comes from the facility.

Oostdik said what they are most concerned about as a township is making sure this operation is built to operate in to the next 50 or 60 years, with production being environmentally safe and the smells under control. She added that they have been assured by Daybreak Foods staff that this will happen.

“I’m still fearful of these things because we’ve had many complaints about this production facility and they’re asking us to do a great deal of things to help them,” Oostdik said.

Near the end Oostdik’s speech she said she would like to implement an arrangement where Daybreak Foods staff would come before them twice a year at a meeting, to talk about their progress and to give people the chance to express concerns.

“I’m looking for them to do and be the best environmental stewards that they can be and I’m hoping that the process that is in place will help us to do that,” Oostdik said.

Ronni Monroe, a retired nurse, read her letter that expressed concern about the particulate matters that would be released from the incinerators and the health concerns of nearby residents. She said according to the draft air permit, 1,208.1 pounds of ammonia and 8.5 pounds of hydrogen sulfide will be emitted daily.

Monroe said she hopes the fact that the current number of chickens already causing discomfort to nearby residents is being considered when calculating the effect that doubling the number will cause.

“What plans does the DNR have to monitor these emissions, what recourse do nearby residents have and what recording system is in place for the residents?” Monroe said before ending her speech saying she hopes these issues are addressed before an air permit is given.

Ken Franz said he doesn’t think Daybreak Foods currently has control of their air quality. He recalled the morning of Sept. 17 where he went to get the paper and smelled something terrible.

“Giving them the opportunity of expanding, more than doubling, really concerns me a great deal because I think they should be held accountable to take their current size and manage it properly before other steps could be taken to expand,” Franz said.

Sharon Amann who lives on the lake said the smells are horrible and she doesn’t know how Daybreak Foods was built on the edge of a populated town. She said Lake Mills is going to be known as the smelly chicken town.

Anita Martin showed pictures from February and this summer, saying it showed particulate matter in the air.

“These things need to be monitored a little more closely,” Martin said.

At the end of the public hearing when people were given the chance to ask questions.

Permit writer Jonathan Wright addressed the amount of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide that will come from the facility and said he wanted to make it clear that if it was a normal industrial facility the DNR would have the ability to regulate the compound. But he said in 2011 the legislature exempted agricultural operations from being regulated.

Someone asked about inspection frequencies and Wright explained that the company is considered a minor source of pollution so the DNR would not be spending a lot of time there.

“But I will say one thing, the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Wright said.

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