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Restraining order issued against LawCo compost business

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has obtained a temporary restraining order against Black Oak Organics and CHP Environmental for violations of Missouri's Clean Water Law. Action was also taken against the company owners, Craig Post and Alan Chappell.

Koster said Black Oak Organics and CHP Environmental operate a composting facility in Lawrence County. The facility composts food, vegetative and certain construction wastes and sells the resulting mulch primarily for landscaping purposes.

According to Koster, inspections by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) found that storm water flows over the organic compost piles, sawdust piles and asphalt shingles. The run-off becomes contaminated with organic matter. The water runs into a receiving stream that discharges into Honey Creek, where it can seep into the groundwater table.

The facility, located on more than two acres approximately three miles north of Verona and a mile and a half west of Highway 39 in Hoberg Township, has been in operation since 2007. Wells in the vicinity have been tested for contamination. Black Oak Organics and CHP Environmental have business addresses in Springfield on file at the Lawrence County Assessor's office.

Koster filed suit against the companies and their owners in June 2010. A settlement was proposed at the time, which the defendants refused. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources started investigations into company operations in June 2007, due to complaints about odor.

"We all must serve as stewards of our state's environmental integrity," Koster said. "Missouri understands this obligation and has passed laws to ensure that our rivers and streams remain unpolluted. This office will continue to enforce those laws aggressively."

The court has barred the defendants from operating the composting facility, a solid waste disposal area, or a solid waste processing facility until further orders are entered by the court. Attorney General Koster is seeking a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 per day for each violation of the Clean Water Law, as well as requiring the defendants to pay all costs associated with the case.



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