MPCA Orders Continuous Air Monitoring at Kohlnhofer Factory Hog Farm in Response to Citizens’ Report

Hydrogen Sulfide Study this Summer Raised Public Health Concerns & Initiated Further Investigation

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Pollution Control (MPCA) has ordered continuous air monitoring at a Goodhue County, Minn., factory hog farm owned by brothers Mike, Yon and Jeff Kohlnhofer. The decision to monitor came in response to an air quality study conducted by Goodhue County citizens this summer. The MPCA’s announcement comes at a time when the Kohlnhofers are proposing the construction of a new 4,700-hog operation in Goodhue County’s Zumbrota Township.

On Dec. 12, Land Stewardship Project members received a letter from John Linc Stine, Commissioner of the MPCA, detailing the MPCA’s monitoring plan.

“We are concerned about potential violations of the hydrogen sulfide air quality standards and Department of Health Risk Values at two hog facilities in Goodhue County – Holst I Finishing and Jeff Finishing – operated by the Kohlnhofer family,” Stine wrote. “Governor [Mark] Dayton has also asked me to respond to your Report.”

A copy of the letter is available here.

Beginning in the spring of 2018, the monitor will be deployed at Holst I, a 4,000-head Kohlnhofer hog facility, according to the MPCA. The MPCA will also conduct further survey monitoring at Jeff Finishing, a 4,570-hog Kohlnhofer factory farm.

The MPCA’s decision is the result of a five-week air quality study conducted by Land Stewardship Project members at the property boundaries of six Kohlnhofer hog facilities in Goodhue County. The data collected shows that the Kohlnhofers are likely exceeding health risk values set by the Minnesota Department of Health at four of their six facilities, and two facilities may be violating state ambient air quality standards, set by the MPCA.

“It was past time for the MPCA to investigate hydrogen sulfide emissions and enforce our state’s air quality standards to protect public health,” said Zumbrota Township resident Kristi Rosenquist. “We can’t allow the Kohlnhofers to continue to threaten our rural air quality.”

Hydrogen sulfide is a poisonous gas emitted when large amounts of liquid manure are collected in one place. It has proven negative health impacts, such as nausea, headaches, vomiting and severe diarrhea. Prolonged exposure has been associated with neurologic symptoms, which may be more serious in children.

When they released the results of their monitoring on Sept. 14, citizens called on the MPCA to protect public health and immediately investigate the extent of hydrogen sulfide exceedances. They urged the MPCA to begin continuous air monitoring at the two facilities with the highest potential for hydrogen sulfide exceedances—Holst I and Jeff Finishing.

Citizens continue to raise concerns about the MPCA’s hydrogen sulfide modeling protocols and their insufficiency in predicting whether these large facilities will be safe for communities. As the MPCA investigates hydrogen sulfide exceedances at existing Kohlnhofer facilities, citizens continue to call on the Kohlnhofers to withdraw their latest factory farm proposal in Zumbrota Township to protect public health.

“We will not let the Kohlnhofers put our farms, our families, or our community in jeopardy,” said Zumbrota Township farmer Dale Post, who lives three-quarters of a mile from the proposed facility. “We’re calling for the Kohlnhofers to withdraw their Zumbrota Township proposal. Our community’s health is at risk.”