Hawaii might not be the first place you think of when you think of dairy farms, but in this day and age, virtually no corner of the Earth is unaffected by harmful animal agriculture. In the town of Ookala on the Big Island, the dairy operation called Big Island Dairy has been inundating the area with massive amounts of cattle manure, urine, and other waste, and the citizens are literally so sick and tired from it that they are suing.
Citizens have partnered with the Center for Food Safety to form the nonprofit organization called Kupale Ookala to take legal action against this mass pollution. The lawsuit was filed in June 2017 and asserts that Big Island Dairy has violated the federal Clean Water Act dozens of times by emitting cattle waste into the three gulches that run through the town and into the ocean. Residents say this reached a breaking point in 2016 when a storm breached lagoons where cattle waste was being stored.
“All that effluent ended up coming into Ookala. The town got shut down, the school bus couldn’t deliver children,” said Kupale Ookala’s vice president Charlene Nishida to Civil Beat. The air reportedly smelled so terrible that people could not open their windows, and some residents were forced to move.
The Hawaii Department of Health has fined the dairy operation at least once for this pollution in March 2017. Department spokesperson Janice Okubo stated to Civil Beat: “continuing wastewater discharges from the dairy call into question the dairy’s ability to suitably protect human and environmental health; so the HDOH has not issued a permit that authorizes the dairy to discharge … The Dairy remains under a DOH order to cease the discharge of wastewater from its facility to state waters.”
However, citizens say the pollution has continued in shocking amounts. Just this year, millions of gallons of “liquid manure” passed through the three gulches in Ookala. And it’s not just animal waste polluting the area, pits of decaying animal bodies are also haunting the town with the stench of death.
Plaintiff attorney Charles Tebbutt stated: “That’s what the citizens’ suit is all about … When the federal and state governments fail to do their job and fail to protect the public, the people have the right to protect themselves.”
A big thank you to the citizens of the affected area for standing up and speaking out against these attacks on our environment and public health. Animal waste is not just putrid and noxious, but it poses serious public health hazards and is literally choking our entire globe, even in the isolated mecca of Hawaii where unique flora and fauna must be preserved. Animal agriculture is so dangerous to our planet’s health that it now contributes more toward climate change than fossil fuel extractors like Exxon Mobil and Shell! We hope these recent legal actions lead to this harmful dairy operation shutting its doors for goods; something that would not just be advantageous for the environment and health of citizens, but for the welfare of animals as well.
Unfortunately, incidents of mass pollution caused by animal agriculture are far too common, but public action against these companies has regularly proven to be successful, and we hope this is one of those times.
To learn more about how ditching animal products can help heal our ailing planet, be sure to check out the Eat for the Planet book!
Image Source: Pixabay