Sierran Masthead

Report Cites Cesspool of Shame

by Jolinda Buchanan,
Sierra Club’s Indiana Conservation Organizer

Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) nationally dump 220 billion gallons of animal waste onto farmland and into our waterways, posing a major threat to public health.

Whether you live in the country or dwell in the city, this pollution affects us all. The Hoosier Chapter has again called on the state to develop stronger, enforceable rules to protect public health and our communities from animal waste pollution, citing the recent fish kill near Crawfordsville as an example.

We, along with the Hoosier Environmental Council, recently released a new report entitled “Cesspools of Shame.” The report, authored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Water Network, is the most comprehensive document to date on animal waste lagoons and comes just after Indiana passed the first-ever ruling on manure management for Indiana’s 3,400 confined animal feeding operations.

Indiana has a history of spills and kills. In 1991, a series of miscarriages in northern Indiana led the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, to conduct a study in Indiana linking the miscarriages to high nitrate levels in well water near a hog operation in LaGrange County.

In 1997 alone, animal feedlots were responsible for 2,391 spills of animal waste in our state.

In July 2001, the 5,700 fish kill in Little Sugar Creek linked to the Pohlmann hog operation was another spill from a repeat offender.

From 1990 to 1995, Pohlmann’s farm was investigated for manure spills resulting in fines and damages paid to the state totaling over $54,000.

In 1998, according to an investigation by The Indianapolis Star, Pohlmann had more manure spills and paid more fines and natural resource damages than any other farmer in 10 years.

This should serve as a wake-up call that Indiana’s environment and our public health are not for sale. Our state needs to show it’s more interested in protecting public health than protecting the profits of corporate agribusiness and repeat offenders dumping into our waterways.

You can find out more about this issue and take action by visiting our Web site. If you would like to view the report “Cesspools of Shame,” a hard copy is available at the chapter office, or you can find it at

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[7/7/02]efp

Fall 2001