Kingfisher County and Major County, Oklahoma: Overview

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:34 by admin
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exercised rarely used emergency powers granted by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act to compel five swine farms in Kingfisher and Major Counties in Oklahoma to give families in the area safe drinking water and identify the extent of existing contamination.

"This is the first time that we have seen elevated nitrate concentrations in drinking water that can be directly linked to hog operations and their lagoons," said Gregg A. Cooke, EPA Regional Administrator. "When our water sources become polluted and dangerous to drink, we understand just how fragile they are."

This action will protect public health and the environment from potentially dangerous levels of nitrate arising from several swine production facilities in central Oklahoma. In response to concerns raised by local citizens, EPA conducted sampling and analysis at the facilities discovering nitrate levels in groundwater at concentrations up to ten times acceptable health-based levels. The highest concentration found at an adjacent household drinking water faucet was 15 milligrams per liter (mg/l) nitrate-nitrogen, where the acceptable level is 10 mg/l. Nitrate contamination results when hog manure lagoons, some ranging in size up to two football fields side-by-side, leak through the soil into the water-table underground.

This groundwater provides much of the drinking water source for residents of Oklahoma through private or municipal wells. Today's action is intended to prevent nitrate concentrations in nearby household drinking water from continuing to rise, and to prevent dangerous levels of nitrates in groundwater from traveling into additional household drinking water wells.

Nitrate in drinking water is colorless and odorless. Ingestion of nitrate, converted to nitrite in the body, interferes with the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, potentially causing cyanosis, and at higher levels, asphyxia.

High levels of nitrate in water can cause "blue baby syndrome" in infants that can be fatal if left untreated. At 10 mg/l or higher concentrations, nitrate poses a health threat to the population in general, and an acute threat to infants younger than 6 months old.

After consulting with state and local officials, EPA issued Emergency Orders to three companies: Seaboard Farm, Inc.; Shawnee Funding Limited Partnership; and PIC International Group, Inc. The orders require the companies to take immediate action to protect the public's health around five facilities in Kingfisher and Major Counties.

The orders require the companies to provide safe drinking water to four homes located near the facilities. Additionally, the companies are required to conduct more sampling and analysis to determine the extent of contamination in and around the facilities.

If you live in the vicinity of any of these sites, it may be important to contact an attorney who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit.

See Also

  1. Specific Contaminated Sites
  2. Blue Baby Syndrome: Overview
  3. Breathing: Overview
  4. Cyanosis: Overview
  5. Skin Disorders: Overview
  6. Spleen Disorders
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