Groups Sue Dairies Over Groundwater Pollution

Feb 15, 2013

Two environmental groups have filed a federal lawsuit against several Yakima Valley dairies. The groups say the dairies harm people’s health and the environment.

The lawsuit against four Yakima Valley dairies comes after a recent Environmental Protection Agency study found high nitrate levels in residential drinking wells.

Nitrates come from manure and fertilizers. When they contaminate drinking water, nitrates can be harmful to children and some adults.

Charlie Tebbutt is an attorney for the Community Association for Restoration of the Environment, a dairy watchdog group. Tebbutt says he hopes this lawsuit will force large dairies to change their practices.

“This type of over application of manure affects the food supply," Tebbutt says. "This is the kind of pollution that effects everyone no matter where you live.”

The Center for Food Safety is also part of the suit. Ten years ago, CARE reached a settlement with Yakima Valley dairies. That was over a suit that alleged excessive manure caused surface water pollution. The dairies did not respond to interview requests.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio