Posts tagged cheese

Is your Oregon cheese green?

I don’t drink milk or eat cheese for a very important reason.  I don’t want to be a party to forcing a mother cow to give up her calves over and over again.  Unfortunately, the production of cheese and dairy products is rarely, if ever, humane since mother cows must give birth every year and those babies are immediately taken away so her milk is harvested.  Those babies are put into crates and later killed as ‘veal’.  Can you imagine if your newborns were taken from you year after year — or even once.

But here’s is the second reason I don’t eat dairy.   The methane, ammonia,  liquid or solid feces and  other toxic byproducts of raising animals on an industrial scale are mind-boggling.  Factory farms continuously release gaseous, liquid and solid wastes known to be toxic to humans and which destroy ecosystems (ref: EPA).

Just last week, the EPA fined two dairies in Oregon for release of waste streams into estuaries and rivers (ref: EPA).  The fines were small, but bring to light how much waste is released into our environment because of dairy or meat production.   An Environmental Health Perspectives report outline research on animal waste and the consequences for human and ecosystem safety.

In a similar effort, The Humane Society of the US reported last week they are planning to sue 51 pork producers for ammonia emissions that were not reported as a toxic release under the EPA’s right-to-know requirement.

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Cheese and ammonia

While the connection between the potent greenhouse gas methane and meat production is an easy one (i.e. ever had a dog with … um, ‘flatus’?), the effects of cheese production on the environment isn’t always as well announced and, in this case, is under-reported.  In a recent EPA press release, a cheese manufacturer in Oregon was hand-slapped for releasing dangerous ammonia and not notifying authorities.   See below:

From: U.S. EPA <usaepa@govdelivery.com>
Date: 05/23/2012
Subject: News Release: Oregon cheese processing company pays EPA penalty for failing to report ammonia release

Oregon cheese processing company pays EPA penalty for failing to report ammonia release

(Seattle— May 23, 2012) Columbia River Processing, Inc. failed to report an anhydrous ammonia release at its Boardman, Oregon cheese processing facility in June 2008. The company agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that includes a $42,435 penalty.

On June 30, 2008, an electrical storm caused power surges that disrupted the computers and compressors that control the ammonia system at the facility. The computer failure caused a pressure relief valve to open, releasing nearly 2,500 pounds of ammonia into the environment, according to the EPA settlement. Columbia River Processing failed to immediately notify local and state agencies about the release. No injuries were reported at the time of the incident.

According to Wally Moon, EPA Preparedness and Prevention Unit Manager in Seattle, these cases are about protecting workers, emergency responders and the community.

“When unintended chemical releases occur, every minute counts,” said EPA’s Moon. “Emergency responders need to be notified promptly to react effectively.”

Ammonia is a pungent, toxic gas that attacks skin, eyes, throat, and lungs and can cause serious injury or death.

The ammonia release and the failure to notify appropriate agencies are violations of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

For information on EPA’s Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, visit http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/epcra/epcraenfstatreq.html

For more about toxic effects of Anhydrous Ammonia (NIOSH GUIDE): http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0028.html

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