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Gigantic Spill of Hog Manure in Indiana

EATON -- More suspicious activity has come to light regarding last year's massive spill of hog manure into a tributary of Mississinewa River.

On April 30, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management obtained a court order to lower a lagoon brimming with manure at the abandoned Muncie Sow Unit. The manure was being hauled by an IDEM contractor in tanker trucks to an Indianapolis wastewater treatment facility at a cost of 9 cents a gallon.

But on May 10, the dike of the lagoon was damaged, emptying 4 million to 5 million gallons of manure into a ditch that drains into the river and killing more than 1,000 fish. That ended the need to continue the costly draining of the lagoon.

According to the Hoosier Environmental Council, it was probably the largest hog manure spill in the history of Indiana.

Court documents show that the damage to the lagoon wasn't the only suspicious activity at the cleanup site.

On May 21, equipment owned by Wealing Brothers, an IDEM cleanup contractor from Fowler, was vandalized.

The air bags for the air brakes on a parked semitractor-trailer were cut. Newspaper was stuffed into a fuel tank of the semi. Debris was placed into the line of the pump that was being used to pump manure out of the lagoon. And an oar was stolen from a boat being used to determine the depth of the lagoon.

IDEM had paid $195,964 to Wealing Brothers to remove millions of gallons of manure from the lagoon, and it would have paid the contractor much more had the dike not been damaged.

"There was an investigation into the breach of the lagoon that was inconclusive," IDEM spokesman Barry Sneed said recently. "Should something develop with that, we would pursue it."

He added that IDEM is pursuing recovery of the $195,964 it spent removing the manure through a lawsuit against John and Becky Moriarity, 1756 S. Grant County Road 350-E, Marion.

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