October 1, 2008

Defense: Karst? What Karst?


GALENA, Ill. - The construction site for the large-scale dairy near Nora is not in a karst area.Two defense witnesses delivered this message Monday as hearings resumed in the preliminary injunction case that could halt construction on the estimated 5,500- cow operation being built by California businessman A.J. Bos.The defense's testimony contrasted the opinions of several witnesses for the plaintiffs in the case. About 20 individuals and the nonprofit organization, Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards (HOMES), had recruited several people who work in the agricultural and geo-logical industry to testify that the site is in a karst area.Karst is a section of land that has cracked and formed sinkholes or caverns that allow surface contaminants to drain into the underlying aquifers that provide drinking water.If manure leaked, these witnesses said, water quality would be damaged.Monday was the first day back from a several-week recess caused by tight courtroom scheduling. The audience had to be cut from its typical crowd of 50 or more "mega dairy" opponents to less than 20 as Circuit Court Judge Kevin Ward presided in the small courtroom because the larger room was being used for the David Damm homicide trial.Morning testimony featured Dr. Michael Netzel, a pulmonologist and allergist who said those working near dairies with as many as 1,500 cows experienced three-to-five times more problems, according to HOMES officials.However, Netzel did not know if the dairies he studied featured an anaerobic digester. Bos' attorney said the Nora site would feature one, which could reduce the impact.The plaintiffs rested their case before lunch recess, and the defense presented two witnesses in the afternoon - Bret Naugle, an environmental geologist, and Jim Evans, a senior agricultural engineer.Naugle said that he examined the site and found it to not contain the specific bedrock prevalent to karst areas.Evans said that the manure pits outside the dairy would have about five feet of clay liner, which would minimize leakage.Testimony continues today.

Originally published by BEKAH PORTER TH staff writer/[email protected]

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