AG Van Hollen: Owner of Trempealeau County dairy farm to pay $7,251.37 for violating pollution laws

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Dana Brueck 608/266-1221

MADISON — Under the terms of a stipulation, Richard J. Kulas of Arcadia admitted liability to violations of Wisconsin’s environmental laws related to the protection of navigable waters from the discharge of pollutants and related reporting violations. On December 12, 2011, Trempealeau County Circuit Court Judge John A. Damon accepted the stipulation and ordered Kulas to pay $1,497.50 in forfeitures, statutory surcharges and court costs, and $5,753.87 in costs incurred by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in cleaning up manure spills from Kulas’s dairy farm.

According to the civil complaint, filed at the request of the DNR, on March 30, 2007, and September 25, 2007, manure from Kulas’s dairy farm flowed from his farm, over County Highway JJ and into a culvert destined for the Trempealeau River. On October 26, 2010, Kulas discharged manure to a creek near his property which ultimately led to the Trempealeau River. Kulas did not contact the DNR or any other state officials regarding the September 2007 and October 2010 spills, nor did he take any action to minimize the effects of the spills, in violation of state law.

The DNR paid $5,753.87 to clean up the first two spills. After Kulas refused to reimburse the DNR for these costs, the case was referred to the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ). The October 26, 2010, spill occurred after the case was referred to the DOJ.

The manure wastes generated at Kulas’s farm contain ammonia, phosphorous, bacteria, viruses and protozoa which, if discharged to a waterway, harm the biological integrity of the waterway. When manure decomposes, it depletes the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. Phosphorous contributes to algae growth and pathogens can be harmful to stream and river life.

In addition to paying the $7,251.37, Kulas also stipulated to violations for not reporting and not minimizing the harm from two of the spills.

“The illegal discharges to the waters of the state in this case caused environmental damage and warranted a state response,” Attorney General Van Hollen said. “We will continue to work with the DNR to make sure that Wisconsin’s environmental laws are followed.”

Copies of the complaint, stipulation and order for judgment, and judgment are available at the following links.

Assistant Attorney General Mary Batt represented the State in this case.