Stop Pollution in Tonopah from Hickman's Egg Farm


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People in the small unincorporated town of Tonopah discovered in 2014 that an egg factory was planned in their community. They found out Hickman's Family Farms, which had been forced out of Glendale when it had just a few hundred thousand chickens, had purchased 360 acres in their town and had received an agricultural exemption for the property. Hickman's was planning to construct a Concentrated Animal Feed Operation (CAFO), with a population of millions of chickens. It was projected, at full build out, to house 12 million chickens, making it one of the largest in terms of population in the entire United States.

In response, they organized and created STOPP: Save Tonopah Oppose Poultry Plant, and became a 501 c 3 non-profit.

STOPP started their opposition to it by attending meetings to oppose it, publicizing their concerns, and by filing an anticipatory nuisance lawsuit against the facility. They found their government at all levels stymied their efforts. They never even got a hearing on that lawsuit before the facility had started construction and began filling the barns with chickens, so they had it dismissed. (Several other nuisance lawsuits have been filed now by groups of citizens and local landowners, and these are still pending.) The stench from the Hickman's Tonopah facility can travel for miles, and is often especially bad at night and in the mornings. People are unable to be outside due to the stench and the millions of flies that are attracted by the strong odors.

STOPP approached the EPA, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), and the Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD) about their concerns. The extreme odors, dust, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions from the facility, were ignored or the agencies failed to respond. Sometimes, representatives from these agencies were untruthful. About 1/3 of all odor complaints to MCAQD were from people in Tonopah. STOPP fought Hickman's air pollution permits and demanded that the full amount of pollution from Hickman's be addressed in permitting, and that a Title V permit (major source of pollution) for the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) -- ozone precursors - be required. Despite expert testimony, MCAQD refused to require the Title V air pollution permit. STOPP is now raising the money to bring a Title V citizen suit in federal court to require this permit. A Title V permit requires 24/7 air monitoring and large reductions in pollution.

In October 2016, using conservative amounts of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide releases emissions from both the Tonopah and Arlington facilities, and underestimating the actual amounts of these chemical releases by about 1/3, the ADEQ modeled the ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions from both the Tonopah and Arlington facilities. The modeling still showed reasons for concern.

The federal standard for chronic exposure to hydrogen sulfide is 0.001 ppm = 0.000001 g/m3.

Results of H 2 S Concentration

Amonia Map at Hickmans in Tonopah

The federal standard for chronic exposure to ammonia is 0.1 ppm = 72 g/m3.

Results of NH3 Concentrations

Amonia Map at Hickmans in Tonopah

STOPP joined with Don't Waste Arizona in petitioning the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to monitor the air in Tonopah and Arlington, site of an even larger Hickman's facility, for ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. Some of the air monitoring for hydrogen sulfide by Hickman's showed levels above the levels recommended by the federal government. People often complained about smelling ammonia and rotten egg odors, but the level of harm from chronic exposure to these hazardous chemicals is lower the threshold for odor detection. The ADEQ conducted air monitoring for these chemicals in an effort to thwart the ATSDR's air monitoring and to protect the polluter. Congressman Andy Biggs also tried to intervene to prevent the air monitoring. When ADEQ conducted its monitoring, Hickman's Tonopah cleared out some of the barns and artificially lowered the emissions of these during that timeframe.

STOPP still is fighting for Tonopah, clean and healthy air, and an end to the odors.

Efforts by the people of Tonopah

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Stop Polution in Tonopah from Hickman's Egg Farm