The Board of County commissioners on Monday reviewed the results of an air quality study recently completed for the West Slope Layers facility on Powell Mesa.
Neighbor complaints of dust, odor, and other emissions and statements of adverse health impacts were prominent during the BoCC's reopened hearings on the facility in September.
And even as the commissioners continued to gather and review information, five plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the county's specific development approval of Western Slope Layers and Rocky Mountain Layers continued to press their case for shutting the facilities.
Last Friday the plaintiffs asked the District Court to order that the county permanently revoke the hen houses permissions to operate.
The plaintiffs "seek an express final judgment of the court that plaintiffs have prevailed" in the case, says their request. "As part of that judgment, plaintiffs seek ... a cease and desist order, (that) defendant (Western Slope Layers) must cease operation ...."
Western Slope Layers has operated on Powell Mesa since last April. Grand Mesa Layers, planned for a Redlands Mesa location, has yet to commence operations.
On July 5, the District Court issued a ruling that the county's specific development approval for the two egg-laying operations granted by the commissioners in August last year was not valid. The court also ruled that the Powell Mesa egg laying facility could not continue operating legally under county rules without a valid approval from the county. The court left enforcement action up to the county.
The county commissioners reopened their hearings on the facilities last month to accept new testimony.
"The county's own regulations require the county to make a decision within 14 days of the public hearing. Over one month has transpired ... and the county has not issued any new decision." Therefore, the county is contravening its own regulations, the plaintiffs state. The plaintiffs say the legal basis of their suit "is intended to ensure that the county is not above the law ...."
On Monday morning, the commissioners held an executive session with the county attorney to discuss the lawsuit.
Then on Monday afternoon at a work session, the BoCC received a consultant's report that evaluates the content of air emissions coming from the Western Slope Layers hen house.
Chris Larkin of Plateau Environmental Services discussed a written report his company has prepared for the commissioners. The report findings are to be taken in their intended scientific context, he said, adding that the report is not intended as a medical evaluation. The report "only evaluated what is coming out" of the West Slope Layers hen house via exhaust fans and hens' outdoor scratching. "What comes out and what it does to individuals are two different subjects," Larkin told the BoCC.
In very general terms, the work session discussion touched on points including the following ones:
• There are elevated levels of "fairly conventional" types of bacteria being emitted by the hen house exhaust fans.
• Visible "dust plumes" are most likely composed of minerals from the soil, feed, starch, dander, feathers and other components.
• A particle count study showed 15 parts per million of ammonia in the exhaust air, "not excessively high," and probably higher inside the building.
• An "analysis of fungal species" in the air showed organisms probably originating from soil and from chicken fecal matter.
• Regulatory levels for bacteria and mold have not been established for ambient air levels, Larkin said.
• Air samples were taken about 50 feet from the hen house.blog comments powered by Disqus